In the upcoming season of MotoGP, there will be a new team competing on the grid. The SIC Petronas Yamaha team will replace the Angel Nieto team in the paddock in 2019. Here is what you need to know about this brand-new team.
Due to the Tech3 team switching to KTM engines, Yamaha needed a new satellite team on the 2019 grid. This is how the Sepang International Circuit team got into MotoGP. The team already compete in the Moto3 and Moto2 classes and will now have a MotoGP team in 2019. The bikes will Yamaha YZR-M1 engines for the upcoming season.
Azman Yahya, chairman of the Sepang International Circuit, said in an Autosport article: "The formation of this team completes our motorsport development programme for Sepang.
"We started four years ago with Moto3, moving to Moto2 this year, and within a four-year period we are present in Asian Talent Cup, Spanish CEV, Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP, it is an unprecedented position for any team in the world.”
The team then announced in August last year that they would be sponsored by Petronas. Along with this announcement, their rider line-up was confirmed.
2017 Moto 2 World Champion and VR46 academy member Franco Morbidelli will ride for the team next year. The Italian will move from the Marc VDS team where he go the Rookie of the Year title last season.
Morbidelli will be joined by Fabio Quartararo who will make the step up from Moto2 where he won one race last season and two podiums with the Speed Up Racing team.
The bikes will have two different specs of engines. Morbidelli will get the ‘A spec’ engine which the factory team will also start out with and Quartararo will have a ‘B spec’ engine.
In the end of season test at Valencia, Morbidelli’s best placed finish was sixth place. In a motorsport.com article, Morbidelli spoke about riding the Yamaha M1 at the test and said: “I think the Yamaha is better suited to me, yes. Certainly my riding style has always been very smooth, so it's better suited to the M1.
“The rider has to do a lot of things to ride a Honda well. You learn things that can be useful when riding on other bikes. The Yamaha is more intuitive.”
The next big date in the MotoGP calendar is the Sepang Test which starts on February 6 for three days.