The first step toward the 2022 MotoGP grid has taken place. With a new five-year contract period between Dorna, the manufacturers, and IRTA as representative of the teams starting in 2022, grid slots are open for application once again.
Gresini Racing, led by Fausto Gresini, is to separate from Aprilia and become an independent team once again, they announced in a press release.
It is no secret that Gresini was to become independent, as both Fausto Gresini and Aprilia have spoken about it openly. The press release merely makes official what was already known.
The partnership between Gresini and Aprilia had been a marriage of convenience from the start, a stepping stone to allow the Noale factory to return to MotoGP in 2015 without setting up major infrastructure.
This is why Aprilia was still regarded as an independent team, rather than a full-factory effort, for the purpose of the Independent Team Standings.
Though the press release reveals no details of Gresini’s future plans, the team has been in extended talks to run as a Suzuki satellite team.
The VR46 team, which is also expected to become a full-time MotoGP operation in 2022, is also a candidate for the Suzuki bikes, should they become available. But, there is also an option that Gresini continue with Aprilia as a satellite operation, alongside Aprilia’s own full-factory team.
Gresini is one of a number of changes expected to take place in 2022. As mentioned, the VR46 team is expected to become a full-time two-bike MotoGP effort, taking over the slots from the Esponsorama (formerly Avintia) team.
VR46 will be making their debut from the 2021 season, where they are running Luca Marini in the Esponsorama team aboard a Ducati Desmosedici GP19.
Beyond that, there may be some changes in the bikes that independent teams will be running. Gresini and VR46 have been linked to Suzuki, as have Petronas, who are rumored to be looking to switch from Yamaha to Suzuki.
If the Yamaha satellite bikes are vacated, then VR46 would be almost certain to take over those machines.
Aprilia is also interested in having a satellite team, though whether an independent team would be interested in running Aprilia RS-GP machines unless they were heavily subsidized is open to question.
All six MotoGP manufacturers have stated their intention to remain, barring unforeseen circumstances.
2022 is a key date in MotoGP racing because Dorna runs its contracts on a five-year cycle. Dorna signs contracts with manufacturers and teams for a five-year period, to ensure the continuity of the sport.
In return, Dorna subsidize the teams and factories during that period, to give them the best chance of survival for the duration of the contract.
Source: Gresini Racing