NASCAR’s Trackhouse Racing, co-owned by rapper Pitbull, announced on Tuesday they will enter MotoGP next year in partnership with Aprilia as replacements for the dropped RNF Racing team.

Aprilia-backed Raul Fernandez of Spain and Portugal’s Miguel Oliveira, who raced for RNF this year, will ride for the new team.

“When Trackhouse was started it was always going to be more than just a NASCAR team,“ said founder and CEO Justin Marks in an online presentation.

“We wanted to create something really special in motorsport, something that was globally relevant, that had an American vibe to it but had no borders. No borders on ideas, creativity and geographically.”

The United States has provided a string of motorcycle champions, from Kenny Robert Sr in the 1970s to Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz and the late Nicky Hayden.

Recalling the great names, Marks said motorcycle races at Laguna Seca in northern California had served as his introduction to big time motorsport.

“Nicky Hayden was really one of my early racing heroes and so its humbling and a little bit empowering for Trackhouse to be able to hopefully be a continuation of a great American story in GP motorcycle racing,“ he added.

MotoGP will be racing at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas in April and the United States is a market the sport wants to be more involved in.

American Don Rossomondo joined commercial rights holder Dorna from the National Basketball Association this year as the Spanish company’s chief commercial officer.

“It’s a very special moment for us to introduce a new team into the premier class of MotoGP,“ said Dorna’s chief sporting officer Carlos Ezpeleta.

“It’s a project that we loved from the beginning. The States is a really interesting market for Dorna and MotoGP and especially for our manufacturers.

“We’re really psyched to see what they (Trackhouse) can do on track and off track as well. I think we can both learn a lot from each other.”

RNF lost their entry last month for what MotoGP said were repeated breaches of the participation agreement.

The team was founded in 2021 by Malaysia’s former Sepang circuit boss Razlan Razali after sponsor Petronas withdrew from a previous race-winning Yamaha Sepang outfit.

MotoGP said earlier on Tuesday that all parties had amicably resolved their differences.

“Although the RNF Team will not participate in the 2024 season of MotoGP, DORNA and IRTA (the teams’ association) wish the best of success to RNF and CryptoDATA in their commercial ventures,“ it added. - Reuters

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