The next piece of the 2017 MotoGP Silly Season puzzle has fallen into place. Today, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team announced that they have signed the German youngster Jonas Folger for the 2017 season, with an option to keep him for a second year into 2018.
That Tech 3 should sign Folger is no real surprise. Hervé Poncharal made no secret of his opinion of Folger, mentioning the German in every conversation about finding riders for Tech 3.
Poncharal had tried to sign Folger previously, hoping to get him into MotoGP in 2014, but the German was in the middle of a two-year deal, and unable to get out of it. Two year’s later, Poncharal has his man.
Folger had also been a target for KTM. As a German speaker, Folger would have been a good fit with the Austrian manufacturer, and give them the young Moto2 rider they are looking for to slot in alongside Bradley Smith. The lure of a proven bike at Tech 3 may have been the deciding factor for Folger, though.
The question of who will join Folger at Tech 3 is still wide open. Bradley Smith is already headed to KTM, and Pol Espargaro’s recent criticism of Yamaha have made it clear he has lost patience with the Japanese factory, and is looking for a change of manufacturers.
As Espargaro is on a Yamaha factory contract – Yamaha have the right to place a rider with Tech 3, should they wish to – it has been widely assumed that Alex Rins will be the rider to fill Espargaro’s seat.
But Rins is still holding out for a seat in a factory team, and has so far turned down Yamaha’s attempts to get him into the Tech 3 seat.
If Rins isn’t placed in Tech 3, then the second rider could also come from Moto2. Poncharal has also spoken highly of Johann Zarco, and though Suzuki has an option on the Frenchman, he could find a home at Tech 3.
Yamaha World Superbike rider Alex Lowes has also been linked to the seat, but Lowes has another year on his contract with the Pata Yamaha WSBK team, and Tech 3 could not afford to buy him out of that option.
If none of these options work out, then keeping Pol Espargaro could be an option for the French MotoGP team.
Source: Tech 3
This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.