Valentino Rossi Signs With Harley-Davidson for 2016 MotoGP

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Valentino Rossi Sings With Harley-Davidson

In a surprise announcement Harley-Davidson has today confirmed that it will be running a two-bike full factory team in the 2016 MotoGP series after agreeing terms with nine times World Champion Valentino Rossi.

For some months it has been speculated that Harley-Davidson was looking at a major return to international motor sport to promote its brand to a wider audience, particularly in the Asia and African markets.

A H-D spokesperson today confirmed that the company had been evaluating the MotoGP series for the past three years and had been in brief discussions with Rossi to establish when the Italian’s current contract with Yamaha would end and what Rossi’s plans for the future would be.

rossi

“With the forthcoming rules changes in MotoGP next year, we felt the time was right for Harley-Davidson to return to international motor sport,” said a H-D spokesperson. “MotoGP has consistently shown that you need to have a fast, fully developed sports motorcycle to win and we’re working on that and launching a range of MotoGP team merchandise prior to actually racing to show that we are serious about this.”

At present, there are no details on which specific bike will be used by the H-D team for the 2016 World Championship but sources have indicated that the company is considering using its sporty V-Rod model as the basis for a MotoGP.

An insider, close to the fledgling H-D MotoGP team, said: “The V-Rod is perhaps the most sporting model we have. The frame is pretty strong and we think our v-twin engine can be developed a little bit more to make it go faster. The new standard ECU unit that will be introduced to all MotoGP teams in 2016 means that we still have a bit of time to work out if the electronics are going to be compatible with our engines.

“If that don’t work we may go back to using our systems as they have served us well since 1903. But we will definitely be running ABS which is a first for H-D on a sporty racing bike.”

For the past 18 months, Harley-Davidson has been in contact with Rossi and his management team to agree terms for Rossi to become the number one rider for the H-D factory MotoGP team. “We have left a couple of messages on Rossi’s phone, but he’s been pretty busy lately and hasn’t called us back yet,” confirmed the H-D spokesperson. “We’re sure he’s interested and we’re optimistic he’ll turn up for the first race of the 2016 season on one of our bikes, providing nothing else comes up.”

  • Jake Isbill

    C’mon Tim, I am waiting for someone to say “April Fools”.

    • Davidabl2

      So you haven’t heard the news about Eric Buell building Rossi’s racebikes/

  • Rob

    Definitely April Fools!

  • HammSammich

    April Fools!?

    Oh man!? So, the news that John Deere is fielding a car in F1 next year is probably bogus too?! ;)

  • Richard Gozinya

    Nice April Fool’s, but you never know, there was a time in the 80′s where Ducati was getting slaughtered by Harley in the BOTT series.

    • Davidabl2

      And you’re not doing your own April fools joke? It’s hard to imagine how anybody could have stacked the racing rules deck enough for it to happen…
      During most of my lifetime Harley racing has been about like the Special Olympics…

      • Richard Gozinya

        Yes, it’s totally an April Fool’s joke, I even borrowed a time machine to come up with this video.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHIxDGtNsYs

        • Davidabl2

          Right. Times have certainly changed in the past quarter century…

          • Richard Gozinya

            Why are you trying so hard to make excuses for Ducati? It was Battle of the Twins, and the Harley was based on a 10 year old XR750. It was called Lucifer’s Hammer, built by some Harley Dealership, and ridden by a guy whose only experience was flat track. The bike that came in 2nd in that race was built by NCR, and ridden by a MotoGP champion. Gene Church on that Harley was unbeatable in BOTT for something like 5 years.

            • Davidabl2

              I actually don’t have a dog in that fight..just curious and haven’t done y homework yet :-)

      • Piglet2010

        Such as letting H-D/Buell run an 1125cc Rotax V-twin against Japanese 600cc I-4 bikes in Supersport?

        • Davidabl2

          Yep.

      • Micah Christie

        To be fair special olympics athletes have amazing dedication and are truly world class. I think it’s offensive to compare them to Harley racing.

        • Davidabl2

          Why not? It’s all about overcoming obstacles and handicaps with determination.

  • drsus

    Bro… Do you even trying

  • Vitor Santos

    so after quitting moto gp to open up a restaurant (saw this in other site…) is going to join motogp again running for hd… Interesting… :D

  • Davidabl2

    How could you have missed the paired announcement that Eric Buell Racing has dropped it’s foreign associate and has come back to the mother ship ?
    EBR bikes will be labeled as H.-D. and, yes, Rossi IS coming aboard. He said he’d only do it if Eric Buell would build his bikes…

  • http://kemalkautsar.wordpress.com Kemal Kautsar

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRISmm3dpVw

    it would be believable if you write article like “Suzuki cancels their MotoGP program”

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/emmetoconnell/ Emmet

    April Fool’s!

  • Dennis Hightower

    Speaking of Rossi’s “former” team… what ever happened to the little R25 reveal that was to have occurred a couple of Tuesdays ago?

  • Clint Keener

    Redbull buying Dorna was actually believable.

  • zedro

    I liked how merchandising was mentioned, that was the believable part.

  • LS650

    What day was this posted, again?

  • mishko01 .

    Hardley Ableson will likely field an Elecraglide or a Fatboy to compete, could hardly wait.

  • Mariano

    Ooops, sorry…..I thought the April fools joke was the ad of Frank and Oak with that model and the word “manly” co-existing in the same piece of Internet real estate, my bad.

  • Mr. White

    Rossi would have to gain 60 lbs., grow a beard, his leathers would have to be black with a big-ass screaming eagle embroidered on the back. He would also have to forget how to corner. And yes, I’m kidding here.

    • Michael Howard

      Actually, he wouldn’t even have to forget how to corner. The limited lean angle (and floorboards) would prevent any decent cornering.

  • Mark Hodson

    While this is in jest and very funny, Harley could easily race MotoGP. They have won many championships in the past with great bikes, I believe Randy Mamola started his career with HD.

    All HD lacks is the will to do it. I ever they changed their minds, look out.

    • Piglet2010

      H-D also lacks the money – remember that Honda has a higher revenue selling Civics in US than H-D’s total sales revenue.

  • highdesertslim

    Even with Chris Carr and Yvonne DuHamel, Harley’s last attempt at road-racing was pretty much a disaster, with I believe just one podium finish, and that was a 3rd place. And have you noticed how many of those new water-cooled 500′s and 750′s are plying the streets nowadays? Yeah, me, neither. Harley will continue to offer, “Yesterday’s technology today”, and the only time it can win is when the rules are stacked in their favor or they have a special class all to themselves. Why can’t they devote themselves to building a modern-day inline or V-4 with a 6 or 7 or 8 speed transmission WITH ABSOLUTELY ZERO CHROME OR LEATHER TASSELS? Oh, that’s right, that WOULDN’T be a real Harley.