Miguel Oliveira, MotoGP, British MotoGP 6 August 2022 // Gold & Goose / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202208060101 // Usage for editorial use only //
RNF Racing has unveiled an all-new rider line-up of Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez that will pilot the squad’s new Aprilia RS-GP’s in 2023.
The Malaysian-registered team has been long rumoured to be signing the current KTM riders following the pairs rather fractious relationship with the Austrian marque, with the news confirmed on Tuesday afternoon ahead of this weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix.
RNF elected to switch from being Yamaha’s official satellite operation to Aprilia for 2023 amid a tough 2022 campaign as well as the lack of support from the Japanese manufacturer, Aprilia keen to treat the team like a second factory outfit akin to that of KTM’s relationship with Tech 3 and Ducati’s with Pramac Racing.
RNF Team Principle Razlan Razali says he is “extremely excited” to welcome in a new era for the still relatively-new team, the Malaysian admitting that he and new partner Aprilia “were very clear on the riders we wanted.”
“We are extremely excited to welcome Miguel Oliveira and Raúl Fernandez to the WithU RNF MotoGP Team from 2023,” said Razali.
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“It has not been a simple process, but together with Aprilia we were very clear on the riders that we wanted.
“They are both young riders with a good combination of experience, coming from Miguel, and Raúl who I’m personally a fan of since he shocked the Moto2 category last year to become Vice Champion.
“To finally secure him, is fantastic. Both Aprilia and we believe in the talent of both riders, so we can’t wait for them to ride for us next season!”
Oliveira elected to turn down a fresh deal to remain with KTM – though with the secondary Tech 3 squad rather than the factory team he has campaigned with for the past two seasons – in order to sample the Aprilia going forward, a machine that has shown great promise in 2022 between Aleix Espargaro – who won the Argentine GP in April – and Maverick Vinales.
Fernandez meanwhile had been looking to escape the clutches of KTM for some having been keen to join the RNF outfit for this season on a Yamaha rather than step up with KTM – though the brand stamped its authority on the youngster by actioning the contract it had on him and effectively forced to him to ride a Tech 3-run RC16 for this season.
The 2021 Moto2 runner-up has had a dreadful season rookie year thus far having scored only two points finishes across the opening 12 events, a best result of 12th coming at the Sachsenring in the German Grand Prix, while Oliveira lies tenth having won the Indonesian GP at the start of the year.
RNF’s current line-up of Andrea Dovizioso and Darryn Binder therefore look to both be on their way out of the premier class, with Dovizioso deciding to retire from the series completely following the San Marino GP while Binder will likely be forced to try and track down a Moto2 berth after a promising maiden MotoGP term.