The Sepang International Racing MotoGP team unleashed its 2021 premier class racing programme on Monday, revealing a tweaked livery for riders Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi in an online presentation.
SIC Racing-which also unveiled the liveries for its Moto2 and Moto3 programmes alongside the MotoGP launch- will continue to run in its traditional black and blue of title sponsor Petronas, its ’21 paint scheme largely the same as its ’20 paint job, featuring only a minor design change with sharper lines separating the colours of the M1 as opposed to a gradient-based scheme.
The Sepang International Circuit-owned squad has made waves in its first two seasons competing in the premier class with riders Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo, the former finishing as runner-up overall in 2020 while a sensational rookie year in ’19 and a sophomore campaign that saw him secure three victories harpooned a factory Yamaha berth for the latter in ’21.
SRT finished fourth in the teams championship in its first year just behind the factory Yamaha organisation that managed third, while the Malaysian team improved to an impressive second overall last season-despite losing 37 points after being penalised for running illegal Yamaha engines across the first two races- with the factory operation only sixth overall.
Morbidelli will be looking to turn to carry his formidable late ’20 form into this year as he eyes a maiden premier class world championship to add to the Moto2 world title he earned back in ’17 with the Marc VDS outfit, making his MotoGP debut with the Belgian team the following campaign.
The Italian racked up three wins across ’20 despite running a hybrid specification M1 that featured aspects from both the ’19 and ’20 machines, though it seemed the greater consistency afforded by the older bike in the cooler conditions found towards the end of the year may have helped Morbidelli in his late charge-having taken two wins in the final four races.
Joining him at SRT for this year is seven-time MotoGP world champion Rossi, who conducts a straight swap with the departing Quartararo to move in the opposite direction to Yamaha’s chief satellite outfit, though he continues to receive a full factory spec M1-though he will have to wait a little longer for updates-and will remain an important part in developing the machine.
Rossi has struggled for consistent form as of late as he ended ’20 a lowly 13th in the riders standings, scoring just a solitary rostrum in the second race of the year at Jerez before missing two races mid-season after contracting Covid-19.
He hasn’t won since ’17 at the Dutch TT, while his last top five championship result came in ’18 after finishing third.