Razlan Razali (WithU): Which drivers does Aprilia want? / MotoGP

Because Yamaha again only offered a one-year contract and Aprilia made an attractive offer, WithU-RNF will drive with Aprilia in 2023 and 2024. Now the driver search is in full swing.

More than half a dozen spots are still vacant in the 2023 MotoGP field. Only 22 instead of 24 slots are available because Suzuki Ecstar is withdrawing. With Celestino Vietti and Ai Ogura expected to be two new Moto2 riders in the premier class, four current riders from 2022 will have to switch to another series.

No wonder that the driver candidates are now queuing up for the teams with vacancies. “I spoke to four driver managers over two days here on Friday and Saturday,” Razlan Razali told SPEEDWEEK.com. In between, the American Moto2 pilot Sean Kelly from the American Racing Team introduced himself to him at the WithU Hospitality, but he is out of the question given the oversupply and also has a contract with his current team for 2023.

Razali signed a two-year deal with Aprilia Racing for his satellite team on Thursday, so the Malaysian is coordinating driver selection closely with Aprilia Racing Director Massimo Rivola, as has been the case with Yamaha for the past four years.

Razali’s WithU RNF team chose Aprilia because Yamaha again only offered a one-year contract, but the WithU contract has two more years left and stability was desired.

Razali had to accept Yamaha’s decision but had had an attractive alternative in Aprilia for weeks.
In Mugello it was heard that Yamaha had been on the high horse during the talks and had let the RNF team know that they would be told in Mugello on Thursday at 11 a.m. whether they could expect Yamaha material again in 2023.

By that time, those responsible for the WithU-RNF team had long since met all the managers and top technicians from the areas of engine development, chassis development, aerodynamics and electronics in Noale. During these talks, all of the RNF troops’ concerns were allayed.

Razali: “That’s why even our team manager Wilco Zeelenberg supports the decision, in whose veins blue Yamaha blood flows.”

“Our goal is to act as a junior team for Aprilia and train young riders for higher expenses, like we did at Yamaha with Quartararo and Morbidelli and are now trying with rookie Darryn Binder,” Razali told SPEEDWEEK.com Celebration.

But there’s no way the WithU-RNF Yamaha team will be competing with two rookies in 2023. “Because there are currently relatively young drivers on the market who already have a lot of MotoGP experience,” revealed Razlan Razali. “We would therefore like to engage a young pilot with MotoGP experience who can reach a level like Aleix Espargaró, and we would like to build a newcomer.”

Razali recalls how Fabio Quartararo, as a rookie on his team, claimed six pole positions and five podiums in his first season at Petronas-Yamaha in 2019. “As the Aprilia customer team, we want to help make the RS-GP a user-friendly motorcycle like the Yamaha M1 was back then, which every rookie wants to ride,” said Razali.

For the time being, only Aleix Espargaró, second in the World Championship, is consistently good for top results on the Aprilia – like Fabio Quartararo at Yamaha.

RNF will equip both riders with Aprilia RS GP22 machines next year. They will have the technical status of the factory team from the World Cup final in Valencia in 2022, but will be equipped with the permitted updates during the 2023 season.

The list of candidates at RNF is long. There are probably drivers like Oliveira, Rins and Darryn Binder in discussion, maybe Alex Márquez and Nakagami if they are no longer wanted at LCR. Pol Espargaró should no longer be considered a junior at Aprilia at the age of 31, but Raúl Fernández or Remy Gardner could be an issue. There is also interest in Moto2 driver Vietti, as sponsor WithU and Aprilia want an Italian in the team.

“We’re in no hurry,” stressed Razali. “We’ll just wait and see for the next three races in June.”

Results MotoGP race Mugello (29 May):

1. Pecco Bagnaia, Ducati, 23 Runden in 41: 18.923 min
2. Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha, +0,635 sec
3. Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia, +1,983
4. Johann Zarco, Ducati, +2,590
5. Marco Bezzecchi, Ducati, +3.067
6. Luca Marini, Ducati, +3,875
7. Brad Binder, KTM, +4,067
8. Takaaki Nakagami, Honda, +10,944
9. Miguel Oliveira, KTM, +11,256
10. Marc Marquez, Honda, +11,800
11. Fabio Di Giannantonio, Ducati, +12.916
12. Maverick Vinales, Aprilia, +12,917
13. Jorge Martin, Ducati, +17,240
14. Alex Marquez, Honda, +17,568
15. Jack Miller, Ducati, +17,687
16. Darryn Binder, Yamaha, +20,265
17. Franco Morbidelli, Yamaha, +20.296
18. Michele Pirro, Ducati, +21.305
19. Remy Gardner, KTM, +30,548
20. Andrea Dovizioso, Yamaha, +31.011
21. Raul Fernandez, KTM, +42,723
22. Lorenzo Savadori, Aprilia, 1 lap down
– Enea Bastianini, Ducati, 10 Runden zurück
– Alex Rins, Suzuki, 16 laps back
– Joan Mir, Suzuki, 16 laps back
– Pol Espargaró, Honda, 19 laps down

Drivers’ championship standings after 8 of 20 Grands Prix:

1. Quartermaster, 122 Points. 2. Aleix Espargaro 114. 3. Bastianini 94. 4. Bagnaia 81. 5. Zarco 75. 6. Rins 69. 7. Brad Binder 65. 8. Miller 63. 9. Marc Marquez 60. 10. Mir 56. Oliveira 50. Pol Spargaro 40. 13. Nakagami 38. 14. Viñales 37. 15. Martin 31. 16. Marini 31. 17. Bezzecchi 30. 18. Alex Marquez 20. 19. Morbidelli 19. 20. Di Giannantonio 21. Dovizioso 8. 21. Darryn Binder 6. 23. Gardner 3 .

Constructors’ Championship:

1. Ducati, 181 Punkte. 2. Yamaha 122. 3. Aprilia 115. 4. KTM 93. 5. Suzuki 80. 6. Honda 75.

Team World Cup:

1. Aprilia Racing, 151 Punkte. 2. Ducati Lenovo 144. 3. Monster Energy Yamaha 141. 4. Suzuki Ecstar 125. 5. Red Bull KTM Factory 115. 6. Prima Pramac Racing 106. 7. Gresini Racing 102. 8. Repsol Honda 100. 9. Mooney VR46 Racing 61. 10. LCR Honda 58. 11. WithU Yamaha RNF 14. 12. Tech3 KTM Factory 3.

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