The official announcement that Alex Rins has signed a two-year deal with the LCR Honda team means that the 2023 MotoGP grid is now officially half full. The factory Yamaha, KTM, and Aprilia seats are all confirmed, as is the Gresini Ducati team.
There has been official confirmation of one side of the Repsol Honda, Ducati Factory, and LCR Honda teams.
Does that mean that the remaining 11 seats are still wide open? Not all of them. There are some which are sure bets, while others are still very much open.
Alex Rins is to race for the LCR Honda team for the next two years. The official announcement only came today, but that Rins would end up at LCR was a foregone conclusion since the MotoGP race at Assen, where the Spaniard had admitted as much.
“We are almost done and everybody can imagine where I will go next year with the exit of Alex Marquez going to Gresini,” Rins had told us on the Sunday night of the Assen race.
The next piece of the 2023 puzzle has fallen into place. Today, KTM and Ducati announced that Jack Miller would be leaving the factory Ducati squad at the end of 2022, and joining KTM for the 2023 and 2024 season to race in the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing squad.
Miller is no stranger to KTM. The Australian raced for KTM in his final year in Moto3, before making the move to MotoGP. He is managed by Aki Ajo, the veteran team manager of KTM’s Moto2 and Moto3 squads.
So a return to KTM is no surprise, and had been the subject of rumors for several weeks now.
Fabio Quartararo has signed on for two more years with Yamaha. The Frenchman will be racing in the factory Monster Energy Yamaha team for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.
The move had been long expected. Despite early rumors that Quartararo was disappointed with the offer Yamaha had made, the two sides were destined to end up together.
The WithU RNF team is to switch from Yamaha to Aprilia for the coming seasons. An agreement was reached with Aprilia between the Le Mans and Mugello rounds for the team to become a satellite team for the Noale factory, and field two more Aprilia RS-GP MotoGP machines from 2023 and beyond.
The deal came about after talks with Yamaha failed to yield satisfactory results for RNF. The Malaysian team had long been hoping to play a role as a junior team to the factory, in the mold of Pramac at Ducati and Tech3 at KTM. But RNF never felt they got the support from Yamaha which they had wanted.
A switch from Yamaha to Aprilia allows them to make that step forward. Though details are sparse in the press release, it is clear that RNF will get much stronger support from Aprilia than they did from Yamaha, with the team to serve as a conduit for talent into the factory team.
The deal was announced just before MotoGP FP1, a surprising moment to choose. But that was a result of factory rider Aleix Espargaro prematurely tweeting and then deleting a welcome to RNF to Aprilia. But by then, it was too late to retract.
The original plan had been for an announcement to be made in the afternoon, but Espargaro’s over-eager thumbs forced Aprilia and RNF to announce earlier.
The move by RNF leaves Yamaha with just two bikes on the grid for 2023. The Japanese factory had been in talks with the VR46 Mooney team to race Yamahas next season, but the team is currently still set to race Ducatis.
RNF’s departure is the second time a satellite team have left for greener pastures. Tech3 dropped Yamaha and switched to KTM at the end of 2018.
Source: RNF; Photo: Aprilia
Eleven days after the members of the Suzuki’s MotoGP team were informed and the news leaked out, on the Monday after Jerez, Suzuki have finally issued a press release confirming the news.
Suzuki have decided to withdraw from MotoGP at the end of the 2022 season.
Despite the fact that almost the entire MotoGP grid started the year without a contract for 2023 and beyond, it has been extremely quiet on the contract front so far this year.
The only new contract announced was the unsurprising news that Pecco Bagnaia is to stay in the factory Ducati team for the next two seasons, with that contract announced between the Mandalika test and the season opener at Qatar.
The general feeling seems to be one of wanting to wait and see. An informal poll of team managers at the Sepang test suggest that they expected to wait until Mugello at the earliest to start thinking about next year.
At the moment, it seems likely that major moves will not be made until after the summer break.
The first big contract to be signed in MotoGP’s so far torpid silly season is one of the least surprising.
On Monday, Ducati announced that they had signed up Pecco Bagnaia for two more years, meaning the Italian will stay with the Bologna factory for the 2023 and 2024 MotoGP seasons.
It had been the intention of both parties to continue for the foreseeable future, especially after Bagnaia’s exception 2021 season, in which he came close to preventing Fabio Quartararo from taking the MotoGP title.
A move that has been rumored and tipped for some time now, Danilo Petrucci is headed to the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship for the 2022 season, on a Warhorse HSBK Ducati racing a Panigale V4.
The Italian rider all but confirmed the news when he was on our Paddock Pass Podcast, and even then the news was widely expected to come to reality soon, with Petrucci simply saying that the paperwork needed to be completed before he could make an announcement.
That day is here now though, and the Italian’s arrival in the MotoAmerica paddock is certainly going to help elevate the status of the series, not only with American fans, but also with international racing enthusiasts.
It is the second week of January, and there as yet no substantial rumors of MotoGP rider contracts being signed.
Compared to recent years, that is a bit of a late start to Silly Season, given that all but a handful of riders have their contracts up for renewal at the end of 2022.
Another American will be in the grand prix paddock next season, as American Racing has signed Sean Dylan Kelly for a two-years deal inside the Moto2 team.