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MotoGP: Update on the rider market

MotoGP: Update on the rider market

The 2012 season is rapidly approaching its final phase and the rider market has been extremely interesting, managing to create some fresh, even if not completely new, scenarios for 2013.

The biggest move definitely came from Valentino Rossi, who after two lackluster years on the Ducati decided to return to Yamaha, making the announcement on August 11th.  When the nine time world champion returns to the Japanese team he will find a situation that he is quite unfamiliar with, being the number two rider behind Jorge Lorenzo, who signed his own contract extension in July.

Over at Honda, the situation has been clear for quite some time.  With Casey Stoner retiring at the end of the year, rising Moto2 star Marc Maquez will join Dani Pedrosa at Team HRC.  This will make it an all-Spanish squad, from sponsor to riders, further demonstrating the current superiority of the Spanish school to that of its Italian counterpart.

Continuing the theme of factory teams, Ducati has found another Italian rider to replace Valentino Rossi.  It will be Andrea Dovizioso picking up where Valentino has decided to leave off.  Dovizioso, who is having a great season on the satellite M1 of Team Tech3, will be tasked with improving the competitiveness of the Desmosedici.  Working alongside him will be Nicky Hayden, the American having signed a two year contract extension.

Among the privateer teams, the arrival of Bradley Smith to replace Dovizioso in Hervè Pocharal’s team, alongside the talented Cal Crutchlow, has caused something of a stir.  The rider from Oxford has yet to achieve promising results in the middle class, and many are wondering how he will adapt to a competitive yet difficult prototype like the Yamaha M1.

Still undecided is the future of Ben Spies.  The Texan, who announced his decision to leave the factory Yamaha team shortly before Rossi signed in his place, was rumored to be joining BMW in WSBK.  Lately, however, many expect to see him on the privateer Honda at Team Gresini, replacing Bautista.  For its part, the Italian team has denied the arrival of Spies and stated that instead they intend to confirm Bautista.

Spies’ name is also being mentioned in connection to Team Pramac, a squad expected to field two riders again next season with the arrival of Andrea Iannone up from Moto2.  The American would be useful in carrying out the considerable development work needed by the Italian manufacturer next season, but a question mark remains over this arrangement as well.

Expected to stay put is Stefan Bradl.  The 2011 Moto2 champion, who is having a strong rookie season in MotoGP, is set to continue with Team LCR for next year as well.  The German has shown he is worthy of a factory ride, but HRC preferred to make room for Marquez, the more desirable choice especially for their Spanish sponsors.

With regard to the CRT contingent, many situations have yet to be clarified.  Danilo Petrucci, who will begin riding a Suter-BMW from the upcoming San Marino GP, is likely to remain at Team Ioda next season, having a contract with them through 2013.  Michele Pirro, who is currently riding an FTR-Honda for Team Gresini, still hasn’t declared his plans for 2013, while Team Forward is expected to make a change, adding a second rider to partner with Colin Edwards.

The two most stable CRT teams for 2013 should be Team Aspar, probably confirming Aleix Espargarò and Randy De Puniet, and Team BQR Avintia, back with Yonny Hernandez and Ivan Silva.

4 September 2012