January 12, 2023

Valentino Rossi denies sale of VR46 MotoGP team to Saudis

Reports emerged last week in the Italian press that Rossi would be selling his VR46 organisation, including its grand prix race teams, for 150 million euros to Tanal Entertainment and Saudi Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Saud bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

Tanal Entertainment is the company allegedly behind the VR46 MotoGP team’s title sponsorship deal with Saudi oil giant Aramco for 2022.

However, Motorsport.com has received two statements from Aramco in recent months denying any involvement with VR46, while the CEO of Aramco has said as such in meetings during the Dutch TT weekend in June.

While the relationship between Aramco and VR46 remains a mystery, Rossi – who announced his retirement from MotoGP at the end of 2021 on Thursday – moved to deny reports of a sale of his VR46 company.

“It is absolutely not true that we want to sell VR46 to the Saudis,” Rossi said on Friday after practice for the Styrian Grand Prix. “This is just made-up news, we don’t even think about it.

“We like it, we have our whole world there and it’s something that I have no idea how it came out.”

Luca Marini, Esponsorama Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Tanal Entertainment is set to hold a press conference soon regarding its Saudi Vision 2030 initiative and its tie-up with VR46, but Rossi says he doesn’t know much about the event.

“As for Tanal, I don’t know much about this press conference,” he added. “Our lawyers and accountants are working in VR46, who are trying to do everything.

“But maybe I’m not the right man to talk about these things, because I know up to a point.”

Rumours have also emerged of ex-Rossi team-mate Maverick Vinales potentially joining the VR46 team next year alongside Luca Marini.

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Vinales will quit Yamaha at the end of this season after his relationship with the marque soured irreparably during a tough start to 2021 and is expected to join Aprilia.

But Rossi has moved to quash rumours of Vinales racing for his team, stating: “We like Maverick a lot because he is a top rider, and then I always got along very well with him when we were teammates.

“There is a lot of respect between us, but we thought about making this team to make the riders of the [VR46] Academy race and this is our programme.”

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