The Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team burst onto the MotoGP grid in 2019. With Valentino Rossi’s protégé Franco Morbidelli and the apparent heir to Marquez’s throne Fabio Quartararo in the saddle, the team had a bright future ahead. By mid-season 2021, Quartararo and Morbidelli both moved up to the Yamaha Factory squad, leaving Petronas SRT with the retiring Valentino Rossi and returning Andrea Dovizioso.
By the final rounds of the 2021 MotoGP season, Petronas pulled its support from the team, leaving Yamaha and team boss Razlan Razali to scramble for a new title sponsor. Italian telecommunications brand WithU quickly stepped in to help form the WithU Yamaha RNF Team. On January 24, 2022, the new team unveiled its Yamaha YZR-M1 with a special event at the Philharmonic Theater in Verona, Italy.
Of course, the WithU logo and brand colors feature prominently on the race bikes, but the 04 and 40 rider numbers command just as much attention. In 2022, Darryn Binder will become only the second rider to leapfrog Moto2, joining the MotoGP ranks directly from Moto3. Binder’s older brother, Brad Binder, is a veteran KTM MotoGP rider, and Yamaha hopes to find that same race-winning pedigree in his younger brother.
Returning for his 20th year of Grand Prix Racing, Andrea Dovizioso is coming off a sabbatical following a messy split with the Ducati Factory team. Dovi spent eight years with the Bologna squad, but prior to his stint on the Desmosedici GP, but he also nabbed an impressive fourth-place finish in the 2012 championship aboard Tech 3 Yamaha’s YZR-M1. Of course, Team Blue’s prototype has moved on in the last 10 years, but Dovi is meeting the challenge head-on.
“I’m really ready for this season! I am training a lot in the gym and on my dirt bike,” stated Dovizioso. “I am convinced that this will help me a lot to better face the tests and races of 2022. I know more about the bike, the engineers and the team in general. I am looking forward to taking part in the tests in Malaysia. In the last two years we haven’t been able to race there, so I’m really happy to go to Sepang.”