Following the conclusion of the 2023 MotoGP season, Dorna Sports announced it would not be allowing RNF to continue participating in the series as of 2024.
In a statement, it highlighted “repeated infractions and breaches of the Participation Agreement affecting the public image of MotoGP” as the reason.
This is related to RNF majority shareholder and title partner CryptoDATA not paying what it owed for sponsorship of the Austrian Grand Prix, while numerous suppliers of the team also had outstanding debts.
Motorsport.com reported on 28 November – the same day as Dorna’s statement – that the grid slots leased by RNF would be taken over by Trackhouse Racing.
Trackhouse Racing, owned by Justin Marks and the musician Pitbull, races in NASCAR in North America and has scored five victories in the flagship Cup Series.
The team had already visited the MotoGP paddock earlier this year to sound out the possibility of joining the grid, with it originally planning to do so in 2025, as it felt it needed to expand out of America.
However, the situation with CryptoDATA making RNF’s position untenable led to Trackhouse fast-tracking its move to MotoGP.
Announcing its plans on Tuesday, the team tweeted about its arrival on the grid ahead of an official announcement later this afternoon.
Trackhouse will essentially take over the old RNF squad and its staff, while Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez – who are contracted to Aprilia – will remain as riders.
Marks said: “This is a monumental moment for Trackhouse Entertainment Group.
“It has been in the ethos of Trackhouse since the very first day to put in the work, have the vision, and deploy the enthusiasm and passion necessary to build one of the most valuable motorsports entertainment companies in the world. Our entry into the MotoGP World Championship is another step in the execution of that vision.”
He added: “We feel that MotoGP is perfectly positioned for massive growth in the coming years not only in the United States, but internationally.
“It has all the ingredients necessary to continue its rise to global prominence: a thrilling on-track product, aspirational stars, unmatched fan and partner experience, and an environment that’s fan-friendly and welcoming.”
Motorsport.com already learned in Valencia that Trackhouse will forge closer ties with Aprilia than RNF had, with the Italian manufacturer looking at possibly providing a third factory bike for one of the Trackhouse riders.
However, given the tight turnaround in getting everything together to build a third 2024 RS-GP prototype, this will be no small task.
Trackhouse’s involvement in MotoGP coincides with the series taking on more American influences, after former NBA chief Dan Rossomondo was installed as chief commercial officer at Dorna.
America also has a rich history in MotoGP, with Kenny Roberts Sr’s world titles from 1978 to 1980 laying the foundations for a dominant period through the 1980s and early 1990s with the likes of Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey and Kevin Schwantz.
The last American world champion came in 2006 when Nicky Hayden won the title, while there hasn’t been a full-time rider from the US since the late Hayden’s last season in 2015.
Ben Spies remains the last American rider to win a MotoGP race, doing so at Assen in 2011.