As first reported by The Race some weeks ago, NASCAR frontrunners Trackhouse Racing will officially enter the MotoGP grid in 2024, taking over the satellite Aprilia spaces vacated by the now-collapsed Cryptodata RNF Racing team and signalling their intention to take on the world of two-wheeled racing in a serious way.
Led by team boss Justin Marks but set to be run on a day-to-day basis by ex-Alpinestars figures PJ Rashidi and Jeremy Appleton, the new MotoGP squad’s European operations will be based out of Aprilia’s racing department in Noale and looks set to bring a considerable technical boost to Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez in 2024.
"Well, honestly...I'm a student of the game, I love all forms of motorsports, I love experiencing all the different types of motorsport events," Marks explained at the team's launch.
"I travelled out to the Austrian Grand Prix this summer, just to see a European MotoGP race, I'd never been to one before, just to see what the engagement was like, what the fan experience was like, what the action was like - and I was completely blown away. It was life-changing for me.
"So, being the entrepreneur and the business owner, I started asking questions and learning about the series from Dorna and from the different manufacturers and riders and understanding the business model. And on the flight home, I just couldn't help but start thinking about what an entry in MotoGP would look like."
Keen to not just run a satellite team as RNF did but rather to expand to become a full Aprilia partner more akin to how Pramac operates with Ducati or Tech3’s links to the KTM group, it looks set to mean that at least one of the team’s riders will receive 2024-spec machinery next year ahead of a full two-bike factory expansion for 2025.
However, it’s perhaps not Trackhouse's on-track contributions to MotoGP that has series boss Dorna most excited. Joining NASCAR in only 2021, when it took over the stock car operations of Chip Ganassi Racing, it has since then established itself as one of the biggest players commercially as well as in terms of sporting success.
Engaging new audiences through partnerships with people like international music superstar Pitbull, one of the team’s key partners, and by running innovative projects like Project91, a part-time grid spot designed to bring international racing drivers to NASCAR, it has so far proved to be a success at establishing itself.
The space for Trackhouse to enter the grid came after Dorna voided its contract with the CryptoData-owned RNF team late last month for ‘repeated infractions and breaches of the Participation Agreement affecting the public image of MotoGP'.
Initially threatening legal action against the series for the decision, the company’s Romanian owners have now, as confirmed earlier on Tuesday by Dorna, reached an amicable agreement with the series organisers - one that is believed by The Race’s sources to see both itself and former team principal Razlan Razali essentially be bought out to the tune of millions of Euros.
“Dorna, IRTA [International Race Team Association] and RNF,” Dorna announced in a statement, “have been able to amicably solve their differences that arose in the last part of the 2023 season.
“Although the RNF Team will not participate in the 2024 season of MotoGP, Dorna and IRTA wish the best of success to RNF and CryptoDATA in their commercial ventures.”