KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian oil and gas giants Petronas have moved into the MotoGP, the premier class of world motorcycling racing Grand Prix, for the first time.
Petronas announced yesterday that they had signed a three-year agreement with Yamaha Motor to become official sponsors and premium partners of Fiat Yamaha, who have reigning MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi of Italy and Jorge Lorenzo of Spain in their ranks.
Fiat Yamaha were also the manufacturer’s champions last season.
Under the partnership, Fiat Yamaha will carry the Petronas branding on the team’s liveries, including on the bikes of Rossi and Lorenzo, as well as on team equipment and material.
Petronas and Yamaha Motors did not specify the amount of the sponsorship.
However, the latest collaboration with Yamaha will enable Petronas to continue building the position of their international lubricants business through a strategic partnership with another globally successful manufacturer and brand.
The managing director of Yamaha Motor Racing, Lin Jarvis, welcomed Petronas’ decision to enter MotoGP despite the current economic climate.
“This is a very exciting development for Yamaha and for the sport of MotoGP. Yamaha and Petronas already have a successful business relationship away from racing, and this new long-term business partnership will see the ties between the two multi-national companies strengthened further.
“It is especially good to see a global company of Petronas’ stature making the decision to enter into our sport at this difficult time and we look forward to working hand in hand with them to develop a long and mutually beneficial relationship.”
The new livery of Fiat Yamaha and the bikes with Petronas branding will be seen for the first time today as the riders begin free practice for the Qatar GP at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
It will be a night race kicking off the new season, which comprises of 17 rounds. Malaysia will stage the penultimate round on Oct 25.
MotoGP is the second most watched motorsports event after F1, which Malaysia have been the hosts since 1991.
The world motorcycle racing championships also have two other classes of competitions — 125cc and 250cc.
The promotions director of Two Wheels Motor Racing Sdn Bhd, the organisers of the Malaysian Cub Prix Championships, Ron Hogg, welcomed Petronas’ move into MotoGP and believed that it would benefit the local side in the long run.
“Petronas have been supporting national and Asian level motor-racing championships for the last few years,” he said.
“We are also trying to groom riders to compete at the Asian level and with Petronas’ presence in the MotoGP, we have a Malaysian link at the highest level. It is an avenue for riders to grow into that direction.”
Petronas were last involved in the world championships with TVK Petronas Sprinta Yamaha in the 250cc class in 2002. And Shahrul Yuzy was the first and only Malaysian thus far to have competed in two full seasons of the World GP.