The RNF Aprilia MotoGP team has confirmed the removal of team principal and 40% shareholder Razlan Razali from his position within his eponymous team due to "the pressure made by the shareholders following poor performance and financial decisions" as part of a more detailed statement countering many of the claims made about the team’s future in the past days.
Razali has been a part of the team’s structure in one shape or form for a decade, initially putting the squad together while still the CEO of the Sepang circuit in Malaysia.
First running in the Moto3 and Moto2 classes before expanding into MotoGP as the Petronas Yamaha squad in 2019, he captained the operation to an impressive opening two seasons in which Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli won multiple races each and fought for the 2020 title.
He gained overall control of the team in 2022 when Petronas unexpectedly withdrew its funding, rebranding it as RNF Racing as he split from the Malaysian circuit and took it under sole ownership, launching something of internal coup against team director Johan Stigefelt to take over the team singlehandedly.
However, after a tough debut season for RNF, he then sold a 60% stake of the company to new title sponsor CryptoData, with the Romanian IT security firm joining as RNF switched to Aprilia machinery for 2023.
This past season has been something of an unmitigated disaster for RNF, however, with repeated injury for lead rider Miguel Oliveira meaning he was never able to capitalise on on-and-off-again podium pace, while sophomore rider Raul Fernandez's gradual improvements were clearly not enough to sate the appetite of the team’s new ownership, according to the statement.
"The RNF Team is still owned 60% by CDT SPORTS AND MEDIA SRL and 40% by Razlan Razali," the team ownership said in a statement released on Saturday night at the Valencia season finale. "The company RNF Racing Ltd is subject to an internal audit by the majority shareholder [CDT] to review the internal processes and the activity of the employees.
"The changes in the management of the team will come with certainty as this was a transition year and after the audit we will put into place optimisation processes of the human resources in order to implement the strategy with tactics to obtain performance in the team.
"The decision for Razlan Razali not to be part of the RNF Team management was not only from yesterday [Friday], but was taken more than one month ago, due the pressure made by the shareholders following poor performance and financial decisions."
The Race quizzed Fernandez about Razali departing earlier on Saturday and he cut a puzzled figure, insisting that Razali hadn't communicated an exit decision.
While CryptoData RNF has now confirmed Razali's exit (first reported on Thursday by The Race), this has come alongside fervent denials.
With representatives from race-winning NASCAR team Trackhouse Racing in the paddock and thought to be in discussions over securing a MotoGP entry as the runners of Aprilia's satellite outfit, CryptoData RNF has insisted that - while having received an offer recently - it retains the right to a MotoGP grid slot until 2026.
"One thing is clear," the statement said, "CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team has a contract for participation in the MotoGP championships that is valid until 2026 - which was assigned from Sepang Racing Team.
"This contract has very clear terms and conditions and until now we have not even been notified about a breach of a contractual obligation. Even more, we did not receive a termination notice of this contract.
"It's true that RNF had received an offer for the place on the grid, in Madrid at Dorna Office, however this offer was rejected officially more than two weeks ago and since then no other negotiation was initiated."
However, with CryptoData believed to be in a separate contractual dispute with Dorna over its title sponsorship of this year's Austrian Grand Prix, it may well be that there remains an option for Dorna to revoke the entry should the terms of the separate agreement be deemed not have been met.
The team's majority owner also denied that there was any issue with finances, something that had come up in previous media interviews with Razali - and something potentially hinted at by Fernandez's comments earlier this season suggesting that repeated technical DNFs were a result of wear and tear on components that had been on the bike too long.
"Moreover, RNF has a valid contract with Aprilia and we did not receive a notice to terminate this contract as well," the team added. "The speculations with respect to the quality of the parts for motorcycles provided by Aprilia due to 'alleged' debts are false.
"There are no debts towards Aprilia and all amounts are settled since earlier this year. Also, in addition to what was in the contract, we have agreed to additional mechanics and carried out with fulfilling the extra costs.
"The CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team does not have any debts or disputes with its suppliers and all the activity is carried out according to the business plan and according to the contractual terms with the suppliers."