Early in the week before the Valencia event, Team Principal of the RNF Cryptodata team, Razlan Razali, announced that he was leaving the team. Did he jump or was he pushed? was the immediate question. We didn’t have to wait very long to find out. First, a bit of background.
The team is basically the same team that ran in MotoGP under the banner of Petronas, the Malaysian petroleum giant and the former Sepang Racing Team till the end of 2021. When the duo announced that they were quitting, Razali took over the remains of the operation, formed a partnership with Aprilia to run as a satellite team and renamed the team with its new name.
Now, a quick check on the web has you running down rabbit holes trying to find out who RNF Cryptodata really is. It appears to be a high-end IT company but it gets murkier the further you go into it (as much of the crypto world actually does.)
Anyway, Razali announced Miguel Olivera and Raul Fernandez as the riders and colourful team release events took place. On track it was starting to look good until Miguel suffered a series of nasty injuries that blunted the team’s efforts. Fernandez seemed to be finding his feet late in the season but few were (it seems) prepared for Razali’s precipitate departure and the events of the following few days.
An announcement from DORNA on the eve of the Valencia event stated that the team had been suspended from MotoGP competition, DORNA citing a number of infractions of the rules that govern the teams. Mention was made of financial indiscretions and DORNA shut the door on discussion of the situation, saying merely that the riders would be continuing to ride Aprilia bikes under the auspices of a new team whose details were yet to be announced. Fernandez competed at Valencia (and did quite well), Olivera was out injured.
In the mean time, RNF fired back announcing that they were going to sue DORNA for defamation, breach of contract, whatever (I didn’t read the small print). RNF stated that there HAD been financial shortcomings but that they had been between the team and Aprilia, not between the team and DORNA and that the problem with Aprilia was settled earlier in the season. That much, at least, appears to be plausible. It seems unlikely that Aprilia would continue to make their machinery and expertise available to a team who was in default of their financial commitments.
In the mean time, an announcement from America said that the team was being taken over by a former NASCAR competitor, Justin Marks. As the riders are directly contracted to Aprilia it seems that this would have the effect of allowing the team to continue, if, and here is the big if, Marks’s offer is genuine and he is in the position to be able to fund the team. Here, again, the whole thing looks a little murky.
The only positive out of this whole absurd situation is that it has come at the end of the season and should allow whatever negotiations are necessary to be completed before the 2024 season begins.
I guess my usual “watch this space” most certainly applies here.