The Comprehensive MotoGP Silly Season Update, Revisited

07/21/2014 @ 4:56 pm, by David Emmett10 COMMENTS

The Comprehensive MotoGP Silly Season Update, Revisited living the dream catalunya assen motogp tony goldsmith 19 635x422

The Danish physicist and father of quantum physics Niels Bohr is reputed to have said “Prediction is hard, especially about the future.” Just a few days after our comprehensive silly season update was posted, at the World Ducati Weekend event, Andrea Dovizioso, Andrea Iannone and Cal Crutchlow all confirmed they would be staying at Ducati for next season, throwing our predictions into disarray.

None of the Ducati riders were leaving for Suzuki – or in Cal Crutchlow’s case, a satellite Honda – meaning that the Japanese factory was forced to make a few adjustments to their plans. And not only Suzuki: since the Ducati announcement, more of the pieces of the 2015 MotoGP puzzle have started to fall into place. Time to revisit what we know so far, and what we expect in the next few days.

Andrea Dovizioso’s signing was the domino that set off a chain reaction of other moves. Dovizioso extended his contract for two more years, keeping him with Ducati for 2015 and 2016. Dovizioso had been Suzuki’s top target, but with the Italian no longer available, Suzuki is reported to have decided to pursue another direction.

Instead, according to the eminently reliable Spanish magazine Solomoto, Suzuki is set to announce they have reached agreement with Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales to race with them when the Japanese factory returns to MotoGP in 2015.

Espargaro had previously been linked to replacing Dovizioso at Ducati if the Italian had left, but with Dovizioso staying with Ducati, the elder of the Espargaro brothers was Suzuki’s prime target. Espargaro has shown himself to be highly competitive on the Open class Forward Yamaha this season, and has been angling for a full factory ride since the beginning of the year.

The signing of Maverick Viñales had been rumored for some while, but it now looks set to happen. The young Spaniard is reckoned to be among the first of the post-Marquez generation of riders who are being tipped to challenge the reigning world champion, Marquez currently unbeaten in the first half of the season.

Suzuki have so much faith in Viñales that they are expected to sign him to a three-year deal. His early departure from Moto2 – he is still in his first season in the intermediate class – will leave a seat vacant in the Pons team, a place which could be taken by Jack Miller, if the Australian youngster doesn’t make the rumored jump straight to MotoGP from Moto3.

More confirmation has also come that Suzuki will not be the only factory making a return in 2016. As reported previously, Aprilia looks set to come to MotoGP in 2015 as a full factory team, taking the place of the PBM squad. According to German website Speedweek, Aprilia will race with an updated version of the RSV4 currently being fielded by IODA Racing, which will include pneumatic valves and a seamless gearbox.

In the meantime, Aprilia Corse chief Romano Albesiano will work on an all-new prototype machine for 2016, based around the spec electronics and new-for-2016 Michelin tires. Riders at Aprilia are rumored to be Alvaro Bautista, who will have to hand over his factory RC213V to Scott Redding in 2015, and Eugene Laverty, who is currently riding for Suzuki in World Superbikes, but has been linked to both Aprilia and Pramac Ducati in MotoGP.

If the new factory lineups are confirmed – and once Jorge Lorenzo finally gets his way at Yamaha, with a two-year deal with an option to leave at the end of 2015 – then MotoGP will have five factories competing again.

The factory line up will have a worryingly homogenous look, however: of the ten factory seats available, six will probably be held by Spanish riders, along with two Italians and a couple of riders from the British Isles.

Dorna has been trying to reduce the number of Spaniards in the premier class, though with little success. The Spanish CEV championship is still churning out top riders, though fortunately, nowadays such top riders are often not Spanish. All eyes are on French sensation Fabio Quartararo, who is currently leading the CEV Moto3 title chase.

Though there are ten official factory seats, there will be twelve, or possibly even thirteen factory riders. Pol Espargaro is already riding with the Tech 3 team on a factory Yamaha contract, and as part of the deal to keep Andrea Iannone at Ducati – something which is rumored to have required a lot of effort, after Dovizioso and Crutchlow decided to remain at the factory – the Italian has been offered a full factory ride in a separate team.

If they could, Ducati would run a three-man factory squad, but the rules state that factories are only allowed two riders in the factory team, and two riders in satellite teams. The rules also state that factories must supply both members of a satellite team with equal equipment, if both riders are entered under factory option rules.

The setup at Pramac where Iannone runs under the factory option rules and Yonny Hernandez rides a Desmosedici GP13 under the Open class rules looks set to continue in 2015, though whether Hernandez remains is as yet unknown.

Apart from Pol Espargaro and Andrea Iannone, the only other certainty for a satellite ride is Scott Redding. Redding looks set to take over the Honda RC213V vacated by Alvaro Bautista, as dictated by his contract.

Who the other satellite riders will be is still uncertain. Rumors persist that Jack Miller will make the leap from Moto3 straight to MotoGP with LCR, though it is also unclear whether he will race the factory RC213V, or will ride a Honda production racer RCV1000R in his first season.

Who will take the second seat at Tech 3 Yamaha is less certain, after Jonas Folger denied he would make the move to MotoGP for 2015.

The waiting now is for the official Suzuki announcement, expected this week, and news from Aprilia, which could take longer. The satellite rides will take longer to fill, though the chances are that at least one more rider will make the move up from Moto2.

Both Stefan Bradl and Bradley Smith are likely to be looking for a job, though with Forward Yamaha losing both Aleix Espargaro and Colin Edwards at the end of the season, their names are both being strongly linked to the Open class Yamahas. Those deals will likely take much longer to finalize, however, and will not be done before the summer break ends.

Currently Confirmed Contracts and Likely Factory Riders:

TeamRiderContract through (final year)
Repsol Honda
Dani Pedrosa2016
Marc Marquez2016
Movistar Yamaha
Valentino Rossi2016
Jorge Lorenzo2016 (option to leave after 2015)
Factory Ducati
Andrea Dovizioso2016
Cal Crutchlow2015
Pramac / Factory Ducati
Andrea Iannone2015
Pramac Ducati
???
SuzukiAleix Espargaro?
Maverick Viñales2017
Aprilia?
Alvaro Bautista?
Eugene Laverty?
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha
Pol Espargaro2015
???
Go&Fun Gresini Honda
Scott Redding2015
???
Drive M7 Aspar
Nicky Hayden2015
???

Names in italics have not been officially confirmed.

Photo: © 2014 Tony Goldsmith / TGF Photos – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

Comment:

  1. Brandon says:

    Redding to the Honda? Why? I thought Pol had something in his contact to get a Factory Yamaha? And I was excited about the Aprillia’s but, if its just an RSV4 with upgrades, it won’t be able to compete.

  2. Jw says:

    How many bikes can race in a Motogp event ? With the addition of factory teams, is there a limit on the actual grid of the race?

  3. Haggis says:

    Any news on Broc Parkes?

  4. smiler says:

    “Dorna has been trying to reduce the number of Spaniards in the premier class, though with little success. – Comedy gold.

    We can now look foward to a Spanish Sponsor for Suzuki too.

    It also seems Dorna are less interested safety than just a couple of years ago. Vinales stright to a factory team and Miller jumping stright from Moto3 to MotoGP. Given the significant number of severe injuries last year and this, seems economics are Dorna’s priority as dictated by the Sponsors.

    Odd that the CEV championship is pushing out so many Spanish riders much to Dorna’s apparent opposition, all but one round is in Spain. Funny that.

    Well there will be five manufacturers so Honda will not get their own way.

  5. Alclab says:

    @smiler:

    You do know what the CEV championship stands for, right? CEV = Campeonato Español de Velocidad = Spanish Speed CHampionship. It’s just like any other national championship. So if anything, it’s weird that one round is NOT in Spain.

    The fact that so many competitive riders have come from it, that motorcycling is so popular and adopted in Spain, that there is support both in sponsors and in scouting as Alberto Puig), makes it a natural feeder for the World Championship.

    This makes it so that riders from other countries (like Casey Stoner) try their best to compete in it, despite not being Spaniard, (while competing in Italy and Britain as well) to get the most exposure to talent scouts as possible.

    Anyway, I hope if Aleix goes to Suzuki, he’ll finally get a competitive bike. He’s shown he has what it takes. Also I would hate to see Bradl leave MotoGP, he’s talented and works hard, so let’s hope he stays at least in Forward-Yamaha.

  6. Frank says:

    Thank you Alclab. I was thinking the same thing when smiler mentioned the CEV rounds being in Spain. Haha.

    And for a Spanish championship – 3 of the top 5 riders in the Moto3 standings are NOT Spanish. CEV Moto3 seems to be the biggest feeder class for Moto3 as far as GP-bound talent goes in recent years. The Estrella Galicia team championship leader is Fabio Quartararo, a French rider. Japanese rider Hiroki Ono is in third and Italian rider Andrea Migno is in 4th.

    But as Alclab astutely pointed out Spain is simply THE hot bed for motorcycle talent in the world at the moment. You can either continue to complain about it and be miserable, appreciate contemporary moto racing for what it is or support your own local race scene and try and promote talent from your own country of origin (which I can assume is not Spain…???)

  7. Heh. Our smiler is so predictably anti-Spain that I’d guess he hated The Princess Bride simply because Inigo Montoya was Spanish.

    As for the RSV4 with upgrades, it would be disallowed by the regulations. All bikes on the MotoGP grid are still required to have prototype frames. The ART bike has been rumoured to be a dressed-up Superbike, but I highly doubt that description applies. As soon as you change the frame, it’s an entirely different beast. That applies equally to next year’s Forward Yamaha, which will not be running the factory Yamaha frame any longer.

  8. Westward says:

    What about LCR ?

    I wonder why E. Laverty was not considered for a seat at Suzuki. Also what about Kallio or D’Angelis, both have experience, and Kallio is even in the hunt for the title in Moto2.

    Maverick may be being rushed through the system as a contender to unseat Marquez, but he is not even close to matching Marquez’s skill, not to mention the Suzuki does not seem a likely candidate to match the Honda. Yamaha barely can.

    Maybe the Michelins will be a factor, but we just won’t know till then…

  9. Frank says:

    ‘Maverick may be being rushed through the system as a contender to unseat Marquez, but he is not even close to matching Marquez’s skill’

    - exactly. These moves seem short-sighted bringing up these young riders so quickly. Suzuki was smart because if Maverick were to stay in Moto2 another year, he would likely win a championship and enter MotoGP in 2016 or 2017 on a better bike than they would be able to offer. This is possibly their only chance to snatch up a rider with his level of potential. For Vinales and all of those praying for a young rider to beat Marquez, the move seems hasty. Vinales is a great talent for sure. That is undeniable. But I think people forget what Marc did in the lower classes. His exploits in 125 and Moto2 were unprecedented. Winning a flag to flag from the back of the grid with only 9 laps to go in Lisbon (after having wrecked his bike on the warm-up lap of the restart) in 125s, winning from the back of the grid in Moto2 and winning after stalling out at the start in Japan. And all of that on what was considered the ‘inferior’ Suter chassis in his Moto2 days. All they could do was claim he was cheating. That seemed to be the only explanation. I think Maverick has shown the race craft, raw talent and certainly the balls to take Marc on straight up and I’d love to see them battle but that simply won’t happen if he’s on a Suzuki…

  10. Alclab says:

    Completely agree with you, Frank. It’s a shame many thought back then he was cheating, it’s obvious now his talent is unsurpassed, and that it’s something many forget nowadays seeing him in Honda, that he has won in inferior bikes, the combo: Marc and Honda just made them both even better.