Valentino Rossi’s half brother Luca Marini has been confirmed as a rider for the Forward Racing team in Moto2 from next season. The young Italian will ride alongside fellow VR46 Academy rider Lorenzo Baldassarri in the all Italian team.
With the team suffering financial difficulties throughout the 2015 season, they will concentrate on their Moto2 team and had included Marini on the provisional entry list but have now confirmed that the young Italian has signed a “multi-year contract” with the team and will line up on the grid for all 18 races next season.
Whilst this is his first full-time ride, Marini isn’t completely unfamiliar with the MotoGP paddock having taken part in the Moto3 race at Misano in 2013 as a wildcard rider, where here he qualified 29th on the grid but unfortunately crashed out of the race on the opening lap. He will be hoping for better fortunes as he makes the step up to Moto2.
Despite having a wildcard in Moto3, he has been competing in the CEV Moto2 series where he finished the 2015 season in an impressive 5th place in the general classification and it was this impressive performance that convinced Forward Racing Giovanni Cuzari to give him a full-time ride in 2016.
Announcing the move, Cuzari said:
I’m really happy to announce the arrival of a new rider for the 2016 season. Luca is a young rider that we are proud to welcome to our team with the goal of growing together. Luca will be deployed alongside the “Balda” and together will form a pair of talented young Italians riding the Kalex of Forward Racing. To confirm the confidence and support that VR46 Riders Academy wanted to give our project for 2016 is also for me a further reason for satisfaction.
Luca Marini is the half-brother of nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi and there will be undoubtedly be pressure on the young rider to emulate his older sibling, but he is just 18 years old and will need time to gain experience this year and adjust to his new team and bike throughout the season.
Speaking of his happiness at joining the team, Marini said:
I am happy and at the same time excited for this great opportunity! Next season will be very important and demanding. Going to Forward Racing is a great opportunity for me to grow and learn from the team and from my teammate: I want to exploit this to the fullest! I want to thank Giovanni and the VR46 Riders Academy for this opportunity and I hope to repay their trust in me with my work.
Forward will be hoping to remain competitive in the Moto2 class next season, having previously claimed podium finishes in the past.