Valentino Rossi and Franco Morbidelli have unveiled a largely-unchanged 2021 Petronas Sepang Racing Team Yamaha challenger this morning, ahead of the start of MotoGP action later this month in Qatar.
With a design that’s essentially the same as the 2020 colour scheme, the main differences come from the addition of Rossi’s trademark dayglo yellow to the front of his machine as the nine-time world champion steps down to the satellite squad after 15 seasons with the factory team.
Rossi’s overalls also feature a dash of yellow, while Morbidelli’s are more similar to last year’s design.
He and Morbidelli will be hoping for a successful 2021 campaign, after Rossi’s protege came home in an impressive second in the championship last year.
Morbidelli has already told The Race that his goals for the coming year are to match that result.
“Everything is there now,” he admitted in an exclusive interview last month, “and this year we’re going to go into the season with a great trust in ourselves. Who knows, maybe three wins is too much, but we’re going to try to replicate that.
“I’m going to be the same person if not better, I’m going to be the same athlete if not better, and I’m going to have the same bike. I don’t see why we can’t replicate the results that we did.”
Rossi, who finished a career-worst 15th in the standings in a 2020 season disrupted by crashes and a COVID-19 diagnosis, will retain a factory-spec bike after his move to the Petronas squad, while Morbidelli will continue with an older-spec Yamaha M1.
“We had an incredible 2020 season, with Franky showing such strong results from the middle to the end of the year,” said team manager Johan Stigefelt. “It will be a challenge to continue [like that], but Franky is more determined and focused than ever, and I’m sure he wants to pick up where he left off in 2020.
“It’ll be a great experience and nice to follow the team into this new season, especially with a new rider in Valentino joining us.
“That’ll be another challenge for us to make him feel good and happy in the team and enjoy his riding again.”
As part of the launch presentation, the organisation also showed off its 2021 Moto3 bikes, which will be campaigned by John McPhee and newcomer Darryn Binder, and the Moto2 machines, which will carry an unchanged line-up of Xavi Vierge and Jake Dixon.