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RNF set to lose title sponsor ahead of Aprilia MotoGP switch – The Race

WithU Energy, title sponsor of the WithU RNF Yamaha team, has announced that it will not continue with the team in 2023 as the team moves from Yamaha to Aprilia machines.

That leaves Malaysian team boss Razlan Razali looking for a new title partner for the second time in just two years following the explosive withdrawal of former sponsor Petronas last year.

The shock news has yet to be officially confirmed by the Italian energy supplier or the team, but comes from an interview in Italian daily l’Arena with WithU boss Matteo Ballarin. as translated by another Italian outlet GPOne.

The Italian businessman confirmed to the newspaper that his company will pull out of MotoGP next year to focus on other domestic sports, citing volleyball as the likely beneficiary of the support.

“It’s very difficult and the market situation so far does not provide visibility,” he admitted. “With volleyball, we want to explore options and move forward because we’re very involved. We feel like an actor. This does not mean that we will increase volleyball sponsorships.

“However, yes, no more MotoGP.”

It’s no secret that WithU has been in financial trouble lately, largely due to its role as an energy supplier amid a looming catastrophe in household bill prices thanks to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the international sanctions that followed. about Vladimir Putin’s regime.

However, what this means for Razali’s new team remains very unclear. Forced to essentially start over for 2022 following the withdrawal of Malaysian oil giant Petronas and the subsequent collapse of the Sepang Racing team, he founded a new team for this season with backing from Yamaha before announcing a switch to Aprilia for 2023, signing both Miguel Oliveira and Raúl Fernández from KTM.

Italian rider Andrea Dovizioso had arrived in the team alongside WithU but couldn’t make it work on the Yamaha M1 and has now retired with six races to spare in his 2022 campaign – his struggles and exit early probably didn’t help WithU get the most out of their partnership.

Andrea Dovizioso WithU RNF Yamaha MotoGP

With the support of the Italian factory and parent company Piaggio, it is far-fetched that the team is at imminent risk, however, with factory racing boss Massimo Rivola unlikely to allow his new structure satellite from collapsing before it even spins a wheel.

However, Ballarin’s words should be a warning not only to other MotoGP teams, but also to series boss Dorna. Marking the second major withdrawal of the year following the unexpected news that Suzuki’s factory efforts would also come to a halt at the end of the season, the CEO’s comments on moving to other sports where he feels as a real “role player” should be a red flag.

Amid a drop in TV ratings and an absolute crash in race attendance at the two Italian rounds this year, it’s another warning that the sport is on the brink of a dangerous fall from grace that continues to persist in Italy especially after departure. by Valentino Rossi last year.

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