silly season


Around this time in a normal year, we would be back from the launch of a couple of the MotoGP manufacturers, and looking forward to a couple more as we prepared to travel to Sepang for the first test of the year. But this is not a normal year, of course. Nor was last year, for that matter.

So instead of packing my bags in preparation of the test at Sepang – originally scheduled for February 19th-21st – I, like the rest of the media, are checking our microphones and internet connections to get ready to do the MotoGP launch season from home.

And not just the launch season: in all probability, the media won’t be allowed to physically attend a MotoGP race for the first half of the 2021 season at the very least. But at least we will have a 2021 MotoGP season.

The 2021 MotoGP grid is finally complete. Or complete-ish, anyway. Aprilia has finally made a decision on their second rider for 2021, and their decision is that they will decide after the winter tests at Sepang and Qatar have finished.

Both Lorenzo Savadori and Bradley Smith have been signed for 2021, to fill the roles of second contracted MotoGP rider alongside Aleix Espargaro, and MotoGP test rider.

Andrea Dovizioso’s future is becoming increasingly clear, and his choices are going to have a knock on effect for the test rider market.

According to a report from Motorsport.com‘s Oriol Puigdemont, Dovizioso has decided to take a sabbatical and spend a year racing motocross, in the hope of making a return to MotoGP in 2022.

The penultimate piece of the 2021 MotoGP rider puzzle has fallen into place.

As has long been reported, Luca Marini and Enea Bastianini will be riding for the Avintia Ducati team next year. The young Italian pairing will be riding updated Ducati GP19s, with strong support from Ducati.

It was an open secret that Bastianini would be moving up to MotoGP after the Italian Moto2 rider announced as much at Misano in September.

Marini’s move was also long-anticipated, as protracted negotiations continued over how the VR46 Racing structure would replace the funding lost by replacing Tito Rabat, who had a contract with Avintia for 2021.

Those details took a long time to sort out, but are finally settled.

American motorcycle racing fans will continue to have a countryman to cheer for in the 2021 WorldSBK Championship, as Garrett Gerloff has seen his contract with the GRT Yamaha squad renewed for next season.

The news comes off an strong race weekend in France, as Gerloff topped the timesheets in FP2, qualified fifth, and fought for a podium during Race 1, which left an impression on the SBK paddock.

This result added to his already noteworthy time at Catalunya, where he scored his first WorldSBK podium, likely made retaining Gerloff an easy choice for Yamaha’s racing program.

As Pecco Bagnaia let slip at Barcelona on Sunday night, Ducati today announced their rider line up for the 2021 season, in both the factory team and the Pramac squad.

As expected, there were no surprises: Pecco Bagnaia gets a promotion to the factory team alongside Jack Miller, while Johann Zarco is promoted to the Pramac team, where he will be partnered with current Moto2 rider Jorge Martin.

Bagnaia had been expected to get the nod over Zarco after a string of strong performances since his return from injury.

Tom Sykes will spend a third season with the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK racing team, signing a one-year deal with the German outfit this week.

He will be joined in the garage by Michael van der Mark, who will take his first season on the BMW S1000RR next year.

The re-signing of Sykes is no surprise, though the real news here might be the shifting of Michael van der Mark from the Yamaha squad to the BMW outfit.