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‘One day, we go to MotoGP’ – The meaning of VR46’s first win

by Simon Patterson
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Valentino Rossi’s best friend and Mooney VR46 Ducati team principal Uccio Salucci says that Marco Bezzecchi’s  first victory for the squad at Sunday’s Argentine Grand Prix marked the completion of a dream come true that stretches back all the way to 2014, as he and the original Moto3 cohort of team members finally achieved their premier-class ambitions at Termas de Rio Hondo.

Coming at the conclusion of an incredible weekend for the squad in only the second race of their second season, VR46’s Termas success started on Saturday when both Bezzecchi and team-mate Luca Marini finished on the podium behind winner Brad Binder in the sprint race.

However, the best was yet to come – and despite wet conditions threatening to neuter the pre-race pace from Bezzecchi that had so many of his rivals worried, he simply rode away from the rest of the pack and not only secured victory but did so by a huge four-second margin.

And, with many of the team personnel among those originally recruited by Rossi and Salucci when they first started the project as a Moto3 team with Sky backing in 2014 (pictured below on its debut, with future MotoGP champion Pecco Bagnaia the rider), the tearful Italian told The Race afterwards that he was overcome with emotion at finally seeing the dream through to completion.

Pecco Bagnaia Sky VR46 Moto3

“Amazing from the team,” he enthused. “For Bezz it was unbelievable, but also yesterday we did the podium with Luca also, and there are very many emotions. Big emotions for me, for Vale, for our team, because this project started from 2014 with the Sky Moto3, Moto2. More or less with the same guys working now in MotoGP.

“I’m very happy about that, because I promised the guys, I told them to please remain with us, because one day, not now, we will go into MotoGP. The mechanics always said ‘yes, yes’ and I always promised to them – and now it’s true, the dream has come true.

“I spoke to Vale already and he is very happy. He said thank you to me, and I told him: ‘No! Thank you to you!’.

“We are here because Vale wanted this project. He is the boss, he has given a lot to this team, and I hope we can give back to him something.

“I’m very happy, because I have worked at 100%, given all my experience, given all. I am finished now!”

Uccio Salucci Marco Bezzecchi VR46 Ducati MotoGP

Adding to the sweetness of the moment for the team is the way in which it’s come; not just with fast riders and a young team but with talent that was nurtured through the ranks for years, not just with the people in the garage but through the VR46 Academy too, with both Bezzecchi and Rossi’s half-brother Marini key members of that particular project since the very earliest days of their career.

“Maybe the people don’t understand very well,” Salucci explained. “We work with our riders from the Academy, when they were like this [very small]. When Bezzecchi was like this, when Marini was like this.

“Many years. And this for me is something special, because for sure the other teams are good, but they take the best guys, and say ‘OK, come with me!’

“For me, it’s not possible for us to do this. We need to work with our riders. Sometimes, it’s not easy, but anyway, we won in MotoGP and the dream has become true.”

Marco Bezzecchi VR46 Ducati MotoGP

The victory has presented one good problem to have for the team. Admitting that VR46 was fully expecting to win this season at some point, Salucci conceded that he didn’t foresee himself to be managing this situation quite so early in the season.

“Sincerely, yes,” he admitted when asked by The Race if he expected success in 2023, “because we’ve worked a lot, very well, during the winter, and Luca and Marco have some problems to fix.

“Luca some problems here, Marco some problems there. I used a lot during the winter with the Academy to try and make a good improvement.

“So yes, but not at the second race. Maybe in the middle of the calendar. Not now. Now is too early! Now is a disaster!”

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