RNF has officially confirmed that it will field Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez on its Aprilias for the 2023 MotoGP season.
RNF has now revealed that the rider lineup for the upcoming season will be completely different, with four-time MotoGP race winner Oliveira and his current KTM stablemate Fernandez signing one-year contracts.
They take the place of seasoned rider Andrea Dovizioso, who will retire after this weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix, and Darryn Binder, who will probably return to Moto2 after this year’s direct promotion from Moto3 to the top division.
The team, which was renamed for 2022 after the fall of the SRT Petronas outfit, would switch from Yamaha to Aprilia machinery the following year and become the official satellite team for the Noale based outfit. However, RNF will run RS-GPs that are older than a year.
Oliveira joins from the Red Bull KTM team after turning down the chance to return to Tech3. The Portuguese rider raced with Tech3 for two seasons, earning the team’s first-ever victories in the premier class in 2020.
Oliveira received a promotion the following year and won in Barcelona once again as well as earlier this season in Indonesia. However, his results weren’t always consistent and both parties decided to part ways. Now Brad Binder sits next to Jack Miller in instead of Oliveira in KTM’s 2023 lineup.
Oliveira’s future was uncertain until recent days, despite Fernandez having told KTM earlier this season that he would not be sticking on through the conclusion of this, his debut season.
Fernandez also departs from the Tech3 Premier Class lineup and KTM setup after just one season. With only five points scored so far on the RC16, last year’s Moto2 rookie sensation has struggled, similar to teammate Remy Gardner.
“We are extremely excited to welcome Miguel Oliveira and Raúl Fernandez to the WithU RNF MotoGP Team from 2023,” RNF team boss Razlan Razali said. “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!”
Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola added, “Our satellite project with Team RNF is taking shape in the way we conceived it from the very beginning… We have succeeded in securing two extraordinary talents, two riders whom I greatly respect both from a human point of view and for their technical skills.”
“Miguel has shown his talent in all categories… although he is still very young, he has already accumulated a lot of experience, winning four races in MotoGP, sometimes with dominant performances.”
“At his side will be Raul, a rider I make no secret of having sought out several times… I think he is one of the most crystal clear promises of recent years, what he did in Moto2 on his debut speaks volumes about his speed.”
“We’ll have to be good at offering them both a technical package that will allow them to perform at their full potential.”
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank KTM who, showing their great sportsmanship, have allowed Miguel and Raul to ride on our bikes immediately after the end of the 2022 Championship.”
Oliveira’s move to RNF means that Moto2 championship contender Augusto Fernandez, will move up from Red Bull KTM Ajo to ride for GasGas Factory Racing in MotoGP next year.
Oliveira and Gardener join Aprilia during the manufacturer’s peak in MotoGP. With one victory and five podium finishes so far in 2022, factory rider Aleix Espargaro is now contending for the 2022 MotoGP championship. Espargaro is 32 points off Fabio Quartararo who currently tops the standings.
Maverick Vinales is also beginning to feel at home with the RS-GP after switching from Yamaha in the middle of 2021. In two of the last three races, the Spaniard has managed a podium finish.