- Despite Aramco's claims, Rossi maintains a deal is in place
- Rossi hoping deal can improve Saudi human rights record
State-backed Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco has denied a commercial deal being struck with Valentino Rossi's MotoGP VR46 team, reports Autosport.
Tanal Entertainment, a Saudi Arabian holding company, announced a deal had been made between the two via a press release.
‘In 2022 the VR46 Team will debut in the MotoGP class together with Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media with Saudi Aramco, as the new Main Sponsor for the period 2022-2026,’ it read.
However, a report from Autosport has caused confusion, with Aramco claiming to the publication that is has no knowledge of this deal.
Yet, Rossi maintains that a deal has been struck.
"I don’t know sincerely," Rossi told Autosport. "We know that we have the deal with Aramco to make the team and in VR46 all the people involved are very happy because we work a lot for more or less ten years.
"We start from Moto3 in the Italian championship and arriving to race in MotoGP for us is great.
"A lot of people are involved in the project, and I think that is good.
"But I don’t know sincerely why Aramco say they don’t know."
After the deal was originally announced, it received backlash on social media due to Saudi Arabia's historically poor human rights record.
Series such as Extreme E, Formula One and Formula E all have deals in place to race in the kingdom, leading to Saudi Arabia being accused of sport washing.
Despite this, Rossi believes that the deal could motivate the kingdom to improve.
"Yes, especially Aramco in the last years support a lot of different sports from football and also it’s very much in the motorsport," he said to Autosport.
“It supports also Formula One. For us it’s an important partner and can help us to make the team in MotoGP.
"And after for the rest we will see, maybe we can do something to improve the situation. But under our point of view, our relationship is for that [racing]."
Elsewhere in MotoGP, series owner Dorna Sports has announced tyre supplier Michelin as the title sponsor of the Finnish Grand Prix.
The race, named the Michelin Grand Prix of Finland, is slated to take place between 9thand 11th July and will be MotoGP's first visit to the new KymiRing.
The 2021 MotoGP championship continues on 2nd May at Jerez.