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Valentino Rossi, His New Team And A Saudi Prince

"I have spoken with the prince eight times in the last weeks and he has told me that he is very happy with the project," defended Valentino Rossi in July, but then it was already clear that Team VR46, the new MotoGP team for 2022 that will direct, the illusion to which he will surrender after the withdrawal, was in doubt. Or even worse.

In fact, today, a few weeks before the preseason starts, he does not have the money to compete in the World Cup. And that there was a moment when everything seemed assured.

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The 'affair' began last April, when Rossi had not even formalized his goodbye as a pilot . In a statement, Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media, a company owned by Saudi prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Saud , announced an agreement between the rider and Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil company, so that the new MotoGP team would have everything they need - some 18 million annually for five seasons - and could fight for the title. There was jubilation in the paddock, images of the team's motorcycles and the riders' uniforms were even published, but Aramco herself stopped the party.

Through its UK press office, Brunswick Group, denied the existence of any contract - "Aramco confirms that it has not signed any agreement with the VR46 team or any other MotoGP subsidiary" - and on the subsequent visit of its leaders of the Assen circuit refused to be in negotiations. What had happened?

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Rossi insisted over and over that the deal was a done deal and even called a press conference at the private residence in Saudi Arabia of Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Saud, but the deal was never signed. The reason could be found hidden in one of Aramco's communications to the Italian press: "There has never been any commercial relationship between Tanal Entertainment and Aramco."

Rossi had negotiated with a Saudi prince, but not with the Saudi prince.

Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media is a company owned by a Saudi prince, a member of the country's royal family, but it is not owned by the Saudi prince, Mohammad bin Salmán bin Abdulaziz Al Saud , and above all it does not seem to have any link with Aramco, the The main company in the country and the producer of 10% of the world's oil. Apparently, after all, Rossi's contact was not in a position to close the sponsorship between Aramco and the new MotoGP team.


"I don't know precisely what the situation is. There are some critical problems. Right now I only know that we will make a MotoGP team, that we will be on the MotoGP grid next year," Rossi said the last time he was asked about the matter, at the beginning of September in Alcañiz. According to 'Motorsport', within the team itself they already say that Aramco's money is lost -if it ever existed- and they are working now to find a sponsor to cover the expenses.

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Despite having reached an agreement with Ducati and supposedly having signed two riders, Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini , Rossi's own half-brother, the project right now depends on the hook that 'Il Dottore' may have in the offices. As he struggles to score points in his last active races, as he will do this Sunday in Austin (9:00 pm), he is looking for a company that will ensure his future in the coming years.

According to the latest information from Tanal Entertainment, there could be other Saudi companies interested, but in the end it is more possible that the project will be saved by the Sky chain, with whom Rossi has been associated for years, or one of the many companies that have accompanied him throughout his life. career. The team is commercially attractive and the agreement may include the sponsorship of its Moto2 and Moto3 teams and even its Academy, from which the majority of Italian riders in recent years have come.

What seems increasingly clear is that Aramco, the world's largest oil company, will not offer multimillion-dollar support and, above all, that there are many Saudi princes.

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