MotoGP Silly Season, Post-Crutchlow – Who Is Going Where

08/04/2014 @ 11:37 am, by David Emmett16 COMMENTS

MotoGP Silly Season, Post Crutchlow   Who Is Going Where Living the Dream MotoGP Jerez Tony Goldsmith 18 635x422

With the announcement that Cal Crutchlow is to move to the LCR Honda team for 2015, making space for Andrea Iannone to move up to the Factory Ducati team, the beginnings of a MotoGP grid are starting to emerge for 2015.

Both Repsol Honda seats are confirmed, as are both Factory Ducati riders and Valentino Rossi at Movistar Yamaha, with Jorge Lorenzo expected to announce a deal with Yamaha very soon. In the satellite teams, only Pol Espargaro is confirmed at Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, as is Crutchlow at CWM-LCR Honda.

With those names in place, we can start to draw up a list of who will be where, and who could be where for 2015. We have broken that list into three separate tables, based on the certainty of their deals: riders with confirmed contracts; riders and teams with deals that are expected to be confirmed very soon; and deals which are likely to happen, but are still not certain.

The confirmed deals speak for themselves, those riders will definitely be on those bikes in 2015 (or longer – the contract date is in the last column of the table). The interest is in the expected and possible tables, where things are still far from certain.

Jorge Lorenzo is certain to stay at Movistar Yamaha, the question is more when will his contract will be announced. At Gresini Honda, Scott Redding will stay on for another year and is almost certain to take over the full factory RC213V currently being ridden by Alvaro Bautista.

The only details which remain to be debated are the choice of brakes and suspension: Redding would like to switch to Ohlins and Brembo, Gresini are keen to retain their deal with Nissin and Showa.

Though nothing has been officially announced, it seems certain that Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales will form Suzuki’s MotoGP team in 2015, while Yonny Hernandez looks a shoe-in to retain the Open bike at Pramac Ducati. The Avintia team will switch from Kawasaki to Ducati, with Hector Barbera almost certain to stay.

Aprilia’s participation seems certain to go ahead in 2015, though the question of who will ride for them remains open. There are strong rumors that Marco Melandri will make the switch with Aprilia, though they could leave Melandri in World Superbikes, and bring Eugene Laverty back into the fold to race in MotoGP. Alvaro Bautista looks like a solid candidate for the Aprilia ride, given his extensive experience in MotoGP, and with Aprilia in the past.

As for the rest of the riders – the second Tech 3 bike, the other Open Hondas at LCR (now looking certain to take place), Gresini, and the second seat at Aspar, the two Forward Yamahas – it is hard to determine who will go where.

The most desirable ride is surely the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha bike, and Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal had been looking at young riders to take the place of Bradley Smith. The problem is that most of the young talent is already under contract, Herve Poncharal told me: Maverick Viñales is off to Suzuki, Alex Rins and Alex Marquez will be going to Moto2, Jonas Folger is locked into a contract in Moto2, and Jack Miller is in the hands of HRC.

That makes Bradley Smith a more attractive prospect once again. “We will for two more races, and see if Bradley can fulfil his potential,” Poncharal said. There was no rush to make a decision. “We can wait until Silverstone if we have to.”

At Forward, the odds are good that Stefan Bradl will take one of the two free slots, though Bradl is also being linked to the open seat at Pramac, as is Danilo Petrucci.

Jack Miller’s future is still undecided – the Marc VDS Racing team have accepted that he will not be riding for them in 2015, but are still pursuing the claims of the contract they hold with the young Australian – with HRC keen to put Miller in MotoGP, with strong backing from Dorna. Miller also has a slot with the Pons Moto2 team, which would be the logical place for him to land.

There are a couple of names waiting in the wings from the World Superbike championship as well. Eugene Laverty is being strongly linked to rides in MotoGP next year, and Jonathan Rea is also a strong candidate. Rea is rumored to have been chasing the LCR Honda ride, but lost out when Crutchlow grabbed that seat.

From Moto2, Mika Kallio has strong interest from several Open class teams, even stronger than last year. A ride at Aspar or Forward could be possible for the Finn, though his future is far from decided.

With the paddock set to reconvene at Indianapolis in a couple of days’ time, negotiations will move to a higher gear. Many satellite riders had contracts forbidding them to open negotiations for next year before 31st July, and Indy is the first opportunity to hold face-to-face meetings discretely.

The Red Bull Indianapolis GP is likely to see several deals closed, and a provoke further flurries of speculation.

Confirmed

Repsol Honda
Marc Marquez2016
Dani Pedrosa2016
Movistar Yamaha
Valentino Rossi2016
Factory Ducati
Andrea Dovizioso2016
Andrea Iannone2015
LCR Honda
Cal Crutchlow2015
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha
Pol Espargaro2015
Drive M7 Aspar
Nicky Hayden2015
Cardion AB
Karel Abraham

Expected

Movistar Yamaha
Jorge Lorenzo2016 (option to leave after 2015)
Go&Fun Gresini Honda
Scott Redding2015
SuzukiAleix Espargaro?
Maverick Viñales2017
Pramac Ducati
Yonny Hernandez2015
Aprilia?
Alvaro Bautista?
Eugene Laverty?
Marco Melandri?
Avintia Ducati
Hector Barbera

Possible deals and strong rumors

Monster Tech 3 Yamaha
Bradley Smith?
Forward Yamaha
Stefan Bradl?
Alex De Angelis?
Pramac Ducati
Danilo Petrucci?
Go&Fun Gresini Honda
Jack Miller?
LCR Honda
Jack Miller?
Multiple teams
Johnny Rea
Mika Kallio

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. Kev71 says:

    Melandri back in MotoGP? I bet Rossi will be thrilled to humiliate Melandri considering their colorful past. Tech3 should try for Bradl if AE is going to Suzuki ( bad move Aleix, your Current ride will be more competitive).

  2. L2C says:

    “Jack Miller’s future is still undecided – the Marc VDS Racing team have accepted that he will not be riding for them in 2015, but are still pursuing the claims of the contract they hold with the young Australian – with HRC keen to put Miller in MotoGP, with strong backing from Dorna. Miller also has a slot with the Pons Moto2 team, which would be the logical place for him to land.”

    Absolutely disgusting.

    That makes Bradley Smith a more attractive prospect once again. “We will for two more races, and see if Bradley can fulfil his potential,” Poncharal said. There was no rush to make a decision. “We can wait until Silverstone if we have to.”

    What does that even mean? Two races to fulfill his potential??? That, to me, sounds like Tech 3 is pursuing/negotiating some secretive deal with some rider and are using Bradley Smith’s situation as cover and distraction. What could Smith possibly achieve in two races that would instill confidence in the team and Yamaha to sign him for an additional 1/2 years? What has Smith achieved so far this season that would even inspire Poncharal to say something like that?

    I think that Smith’s future with Tech 3 is somehow hinged on what happens with Lorenzo’s deal with Factory Yamaha. And further, Tech 3 are probably interested in either Aleix Espargaro or Maverick Vinales, because if Suzuki can attract Vinales, Yamaha and Tech 3 certainly can — and Lorenzo signing a one or two-year deal with Factory Yamaha can set many things in motion. Particularly if he signs only a one-year deal, Pol will definitely move up to secure his spot making two seats available at Tech3: Smith’s for 2015 and Pol’s for 2016.

    Who knows how many details I have wrong, but with the talent coming up – that’s trying to break into the premiere class, I don’t see Tech 3 holding out too much hope that Smith’s performance will improve dramatically in the space of two weeks. Yamaha, Poncharal and company are holding some very valuable cards close to their chests. And Lorenzo’s ongoing negotiations with the Yamaha factory are key to how things will play out, of this I’m sure.

  3. “What has Smith achieved so far this season that would even inspire Poncharal to say something like that?”

    He’s been notoriously quick in practice, often setting quickest or almost-quickest times. Alas, those results don’t get points, and its been race day where he has struggled this season. If the boy would just crash less, he holds an awful lot of promise.

    I like Smith. He’s a thinking man’s rider and he approaches his craft with a high degree of professionalism. I just wish he’d stop falling off the damn bike and show what he can do on Sunday. He’s got all the right people in place for him, especially with Randy Mamola mentoring him. It’s now up to Smith to settle down and show his mettle.

  4. Frank says:

    ‘I like Smith. He’s a thinking man’s rider and he approaches his craft with a high degree of professionalism. I just wish he’d stop falling off the damn bike and show what he can do on Sunday. He’s got all the right people in place for him, especially with Randy Mamola mentoring him. It’s now up to Smith to settle down and show his mettle.’

    @ Trane Francks – well said. I completely agree. And I also like how candid he is with the press. He was quoted as saying something to the effect of ‘I wouldn’t hire me with my results this year.’ He’s got a good head on his shoulders and can be fast as $#!%. I’m not surprised that he will likely lose his seat next year but I do remember that the second half of his rookie season showed very noticeable improvement over the first and I expect the same this year. Hopefully he lands a good ride next year. He deserves to be in GP. There are number of riders rumored for seats in this silly season that certainly don’t merit the chance as much as Smith does.

  5. crshnbrn says:

    @ Mr. Goldsmith

    You very well may have captured the most/only humor JL will exhibit for all of 2014. Dare I ask the FPS it took to capture such a rare moment?

  6. L2C says:

    Hey, quite a few riders have been super-quick this season. And I’m not against Smith in any way, but given the climate: you got Crutchlow gaining a coveted seat based on his results in 2013 and losing one based on his results in 2014, Bradl losing a coveted seat based on his results in 2014, Maverick Vinales possibly gaining a factory seat based on his results in Moto3 and the ifs and buts of his year in Moto2, Jack Miller possibly gaining somebody’s RCV1000R, if not Bautista’s RC213V, based on…I have no fuggin’ idea because I don’t think his achievements in Moto3 are enough for him to be going anywhere but Moto2 next year, and who knows what Lorenzo is doing.

    Basically, every rider who retained their seat this season is either still their two-year contracts that end in 2015, or they have shown consistently that they are still on an upward trajectory. Rossi, Dani, Marc. Each are proving that old and new alike can learn new tricks to go even faster. These three are the prime examples of the entire grid of the premiere class. Lorenzo is hovering about but he’s “got some ‘splaining to do, Lucy,” and a very real challenge to prove that he can adapt like all champions must throughout their careers. As Rossi said, “If you want to stay in the game you have to always try to learn from the fastest, and try to improve always the style. It never stops.”

    About the curious case of Bradley Smith. To me, it seemed like Smith was under much more pressure this season than Stefan Bradl. At least Bradl won pole position and a 2nd place podium at Laguna Seca last year to help ease his worries a tiny bit. Smith has had nothing but his speed, which all riders in MotoGP possess. So nothing distinguishable from the rest, really.

    What I wanted to say was that Poncharal sounded like somebody’s mother. “You better do well on your history exam next week, young man, or else!” When a mom talks like that, she half expects you to fail and half expects you to succeed. But what you must really understand is that she is not looking for you to pull a C or a B, she means and expects an A.

    So what Poncharal is really saying is that Smith has two more races to beat either Rossi, Dani, or Marc two times! Clearly he’s at least saying that Smith has to beat Rossi in a dry race twice. Wet races will have to do if that’s all they’ll get at Indy and Silverstone, but Smith has to beat the third fastest regardless of the weather.

    Now…

  7. Peter says:

    According to a German publication Bradl at Fast Forward is a done deal. This deal actually preceded CC’s move to LCR. Only after Bradl made his move LCR decided to go after CC. Ducati according to that report was happy to let go of CC., because they already promised a factory bike to Iannone. This would have meant they would have to provide 3 factory bikes next year….

    I am just repeating here, I know nothing :-). Silly season it is!!!

  8. L2C says:

    @ Peter

    LOL, well that would throw a wrench and a couple of rejected M1 fuel tanks in all those worthless words I’ve been writing. No doubt I’ve been steered by commentary saying that Ceccinello was keen keeping Bradl with LCR.

    Whatevs whatevs whatevs…

  9. JHB1984 says:

    @L2C

    Lucio was keen on keeping Stefan, but HRC wasn’t … so Stefan had a look and turned Lucio down.
    regarding Stefans move, over to NGM … i hope he will steer them over to KALEX and get himself a nice frame/engine combo ;o)

  10. Filippo says:

    Such a shame Vinales is heading to suzuki. he deserved pedrosa’s or Lorenzo’s bike.If there is any rider in the paddock who can beat Marquez he is called Maverick.

  11. Frank says:

    @ Filippo… Bahahahaha. No sir. Maverick can beat ALEX Marquez at this point in his career but who knows if that will even be true in 3 years. He is talented for sure. I marshaled at COTA and his win was a masterclass in race management, but he will suffer on the Suzuki next year and will not beat his teammate Aleix Espargaro. If he beats Aleix once in a dry race or under normal conditions I will be impressed and pleasantly surprised. But to say he could compete with the top tier riders of GP is a stretch. Let’s see if he can consistently battle for the podium in Moto2 before we start throwing claims like that around. Right now, he needs to beat the riders in front of him in his own class. As it stands Rabat and Kallio are ahead of him in the standings are are usually ahead of him on the track. Domi is also coming on strong.

    To be fair- Vinales won his Moto3 championship with consistency not race wins. He will certainly need consistency to beat a relentlessly consistent MM93, but if is ever able to reach that level it won’t be in 2015.

  12. Filippo says:

    @Frank…If you think Kalio and Rabat are better riders than Vinales better don’t watch anymore motogp.Vinales is a rookie in the class while the guys you mentioned are racing in moto2 since 2011.Vinales won his first race in the category very soon while it took rabat 3 years to win his first race and Domi won after 5 years.Maverick didn’t win many races last year in moto3 because his ktm lacked top speed compared to his rivals. He is destroying Salom this year on the same bike.
    Let’s see how long it will take for Alex Marquez to be competitive in moto2 cuz i think he will struggle a lot in the begining like Espargaro,redding,bradl,smith. Only Marc and Maverick won straight away in moto2

  13. @Filippo: “If you think Kalio and Rabat are better riders than Vinales better don’t watch anymore motogp.”

    Maverick may have more raw talent, but both Mika and Tito have a great deal of experience. There’s good reason why Rabat is leading the Moto2 championship by a large margin at the half-way point of the season: He’s been damn near unbeatable. Rabat leads Kallio by 19 points and Viñales by a whole 50 points. When Maverick starts consistently beating Rabat, then I’ll think of him as the better rider. Till that time, he’s still developing his potential.

    How long it took Rabat to mature into the rider he is in 2014 doesn’t really matter. What matters is that if he keeps going the way he is, he’ll end up as 2014 Moto2 champion.

  14. L2C says:

    Thing about Rabat is that he gets his laps in on the daily. Doesn’t matter whether he is on holiday or between races, that cat is at the track getting his laps in. I think that dedication and discipline is going to pay huge dividends when he finally makes his way up from Moto2 to MotoGP.

  15. “I think that dedication and discipline is going to pay huge dividends when he finally makes his way up from Moto2 to MotoGP.”

    I have to agree. And as it is now, he’s almost freakishly consistent. He’s got that whole Lorenzo metronome thing going where he just cranks out lap after lap after lap all within a tenth or so of each other. He’s got the pace and the feel. And Marc VDS backing him up sure doesn’t hurt.

  16. L2C says:

    Just officially announced: Stefan Bradl to Forward Yamaha. :-(