Maverick Vinales has signed a new two year contract with Movistar Yamaha, keeping him with the team until the end of the 2020 season.
The Spanish rider finished third in the championship in 2017, his first season with the team and will be hoping to challenge more closely for the title in 2018.
After his switch to Yamaha in 2017, Vinales was the early season favourite after opening wins in Qatar and Argentina. However, he won only one more race over the course of the season as his challenge faltered. With all of the factory riders out of contract at the end of 2018, Vinales is the first to sign a new contract.
With speculation still surrounding whether team-mate Valentino Rossi will re-sign with the team, Yamaha have moved early to sign Vinales for the upcoming seasons. Rossi traditionally decides after the first few races whether he wants to continue before negotiating a new contract.
Announcing the move, Vinales said:
I’m really happy that Yamaha and I have extended our contract by two more years. It’s great for me and the team that we were able to make this announcement this early on, because it gives us a sense of calm: we know that I will continue riding my M1 for the coming three seasons, so now we can just focus on the actual racing.
Lin Jarvis, Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Racing said:
I’m very happy we have reached an agreement for Maverick to continue as a factory rider for Yamaha. The announcement that he will be staying with the team for two further years after 2018 is a fantastic way to start the new season: it shows clear commitment by both parties and affirms a reciprocal confidence that together we can achieve our mutual goal of becoming MotoGP World Champions.