FRANCO MORBIDELLI JOINS YAMAHA FACTORY RACING MOTOGP TEAM FOR 2021-2023
It is with great pleasure that Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. confirm Franco Morbidelli as a Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team rider for the remaining races in 2021 and for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. The Italian will make his highly anticipated return from injury debuting with the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team this weekend at the Gran Premio di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini.
Misano Adriatico (Italy), 16th September 2021
Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. are delighted to announce that Franco Morbidelli has signed with the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team for the remaining races in 2021 and for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. The Italian will make his long-awaited return after injury this weekend, debuting with the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team at the Gran Premio di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini. He will be part of the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team‘s rider line-up for the upcoming five 2021 GP events and a full-time Factory rider in 2022 and 2023.
Morbidelli has shown great riding and motivation so far in his three seasons of racing with Yamaha in the MotoGP World Championship. The successful partnership led to a second place overall for the Italian in 2020, having secured five podiums including three victories that season.
The PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team rider‘s 2021 season was hampered by injury. He decided to have surgery on the meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on 25 June, causing him to miss the Dutch, Styrian, Austrian, British, and Aragon GP. After following a rehabilitation programme, Morbidelli is now ready to return to action.
This weekend, the 26-year-old will be reunited with former PETRONAS Yamaha SRT teammate Fabio Quartararo, this time as part of the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team. He aims to use the remainder of the 2021 season to adapt to the new team surroundings and the 2021 Factory-spec YZR-M1, and gradually work up to 100% fitness level.
With two further years as a Factory rider on the horizon after the 2021 season, Morbidelli can count on Yamaha‘s full support and the opportunity to fight at the front for big milestones on many occasions.
MANAGING DIRECTOR, YAMAHA MOTOR RACING
“First of all, we want to thank PETRONAS Yamaha SRT for allowing Franky to make his dream come true and letting him step up to the Factory team ahead of schedule. Originally, we had planned for Franky to move up from 2022 on, but following a sudden rider line-up change mid-season, we had the chance to let him upgrade early.
“Secondly, I want to give a warm welcome to Franky. He is an exceptional talent. This was even further highlighted last year when he secured second place in the championship and achieved five podiums and three wins on the satellite Yamaha. It shows the type of rider that he is: committed to extracting the best from the YZR-M1 under all circumstances.
“Naturally, we‘re thrilled that Franky will be back in the paddock and that he is well enough to start racing again. He will have to find his form gradually, in line with his physical improvements, as he is still recovering. We will be using the remainder of 2021 to get him settled in the team and comfortable on the bike.
“We have already locked down our plans for 2022 and 2023, with Franky receiving full Factory backing from Yamaha Motor Company. We feel certain that a skilled, calm, and experienced rider like Franky will strengthen the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team and will enjoy great success in the future.”
“I’m very pleased and happy about facing this weekend and this highly anticipated new chapter with the Factory Yamaha team. I’ve been trying to recover as much as possible for the final stage of this championship. I wanted to make my comeback at a track I know well and have great memories of, like Misano.
”I’m looking forward to jumping on the bike and starting my journey with the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team. Of course, I need and I want to thank all the people who made this happen, starting with Ito-san, Lin, Maio, Sumi-san, the VR46 Riders Academy, and all other people who made this collaboration possible.”
Date of birth: 4 December 1994
Place of birth: Rome, Italy
First Grand Prix: San Marino GP 2013 (Moto2)
First Grand Prix Win: Qatar GP 2017 (Moto2)
Grand Prix Wins: 11 (3x MotoGP, 8x Moto2)
Podiums: 27 (6x MotoGP, 21x Moto2)
Pole Positions: 8 (2x MotoGP, 6x Moto2)
Fastest Laps: 14 (1x MotoGP, 13x Moto2)
2020 MotoGP World Championship (2nd – 158 points) [Vice Champion, Top Independent Rider]
2019 MotoGP World Championship (10th – 115 points)
2018 MotoGP World Championship (15th – 50 points)
2017 Moto2 World Championship (1st – 308 points) [World Champion]
2016 Moto2 World Championship (4th – 213 points)
2015 Moto2 World Championship (10th – 90 points)
2014 Moto2 World Championship (11th – 75 points)
2013 Moto2 World Championship (31st – only 3 races)
2013 European Superstock 600cc (1st – 154 points) [European Champion]
2012 European Superstock 600cc (6th – 74 points)
2011 European Superstock 600cc (17th – 32 points)
The son of a racer, Franco Morbidelli has been riding bikes since he was old enough to walk.
Franco Morbidelli‘s passion for motorcycles comes from his father Livio, an Italian ex-rider who built his son his first bike when he was just two years old. When Franco was young, the Morbidelli family moved from Rome to Pesaro, near Tavullia, where Franco‘s racing education started in the smaller Italian categories. After two years of success it led to a season of racing in Spain in the Cuna de Campeones series.
His next step was to move up to the European Superstock 600 Championship, winning the title in 2013. Morbidelli‘s good results in that series opened the door for three wildcard rides in the Moto2 World Championship (also in 2013) at the San Marino, Japanese, and Valencian Grand Prix.
The following season he was offered a full-time spot in the series, making gradual progress before finishing fourth in 2016 and then, after taking eight wins and twelve podiums, being crowned Moto2 World Champion in 2017.
Following his inaugural year in MotoGP in 2018, Franco joined the ambitious PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team for 2019 and showed his talent again with the Malaysian squad. Achieving his personal best finish of fifth place four times and qualifying on the front row for three races.
In 2020, Franco delivered exceptionally well. Whilst his early season performance potential was masked slightly by some technical and contact issues, he came back strong in the latter part of the season to deliver three race wins and take second in the overall rider standings, finishing as top independent rider.
2021 would have been Franco‘s third season with the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team, but it was cut short due to a knee injury, a lengthy recovery process, and ultimately the Italian‘s step-up to the Yamaha Factory team.
More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Yamaha:
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP START SAN MARINO GP WITH NEW RIDER LINE-UP
Misano Adriatico (Italy), 16th September 2021
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team have travelled straight from MotorLand Aragón to the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli for the first of two races held at this track this season (Round 14 and Round 16). It will be a special event, as Franco Morbidelli will be reunited with former teammate Fabio Quartararo, this time in the Factory Yamaha pit box.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP is looking forward to commencing this weekend‘s Gran Premio di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, which the team and new recruit Franco Morbidelli consider their home race.
Fabio Quartararo is determined to put his mark on the upcoming race at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli after a disappointing end to the Aragon GP. He enjoys the San Marino track and is feeling positive about his potential here this weekend.
The Frenchman is leading the championship with a 53-point advantage over his closest rival. Whilst he doesn‘t bother about the standings too much, his goals for this weekend do include a visit to the San Marino rostrum again. He stood on the podium there once before when he scored a second place in the MotoGP class in 2019, and he also came close last year when he took a fourth place in the Emilia Romagna GP.
The San Marino race weekends are always special to Morbidelli, especially because he rode his very first Grand Prix at the Misano circuit in the Moto2 class in 2013. This time round the San Marino GP will be even more special, as he will make his highly anticipated comeback after injury as well as his Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP debut.
The Italian opted to have surgery on his knee on 25 June. Following a rehabilitation programme, he is now ready for action again. However, the recovery process did mean he missed five race weekends (the Dutch GP, Styrian GP, Austrian GP, British GP, and the Aragon GP). He is currently in 17th position in the rankings, with a total of 40 points.
The Misano circuit, constructed in 1972, was a regular scene for Italian Grands Prix throughout the 80s and early 90s. The 4.2 km track is ridden clockwise, since a radical renovation was done to meet MotoGP’s safety regulations in 2007 that put the circuit back on the MotoGP calendar. The upgrade also included a new chicane, resulting in the current lay-out of six left and ten right corners, and giving the track increased race excitement.
Those who wish to be reminded of Misano‘s lay-out can refresh their memory by watching Lorenzo Daretti (Trastevere73) and Michael Amara (Vindex182)‘s eRace at this well-liked track.
We are looking forward to this race weekend. The entire team always enjoys the Misano track a lot, and we think of it as our ’home GP‘. The atmosphere here with the fans in the grandstands is something very special. Fabio is also very keen to start the San Marino GP. He likes the Misano circuit. He got a podium here once before in the premier class, and we expect that we can do a good job here again this weekend. This Grand Prix is also very significant for the team for a second reason: Franky will be joining us for the first time. We are so pleased to have him back in the paddock after his injury, and the team will fully support him this weekend to make the transition as easy as possible. So, all in all, we think we will be in for an exciting race weekend. Of course, we also have the test here on Monday and another round following the GP at COTA, so we are motivated to get off to a good start and hit the ground running on Friday morning.
I was a little disappointed with how the Aragon GP ended, but that was mainly because we did good work leading up to the race. But what‘s done is done. It‘s only natural that sometimes the lead decreases, and then it can increase again. I‘m not worried by it. I just want to focus on doing a good race here this weekend. I really like Misano, and we will be racing here twice, so that‘s something I‘m quite excited about. For sure, we will work hard this weekend and do our best.
The main feeling right now is that I’m really looking forward to jumping on the Factory M1. I really want to start working with the team and start making laps with the bike because it’s been a long time that I haven’t been riding, and I’m starting to feel a bit uncomfortable. So I’m really looking forward to riding again. Moreover, my comeback is going to be in such a great environment – Misano is a circuit I know well and like a lot – and on a great bike. I’m really looking forward to practicing my sport again!