Who will go where in 2023? The MotoGP transfer market is about to go into crisis, at the same time as the return of the European Grands Prix. The next races and weeks will be decisive for the composition of the future grid. GP-Inside takes stock of the signed signings and the rumors circulating before the Portuguese Grand Prix.
2020 world runner-up, but disappointing since the start of the 2021 season, Franco Morbidelli will have until the end of 2023 to find his way back to victory with Monster Energy Yamaha. The name of his companion is not yet known. The Blues would like it to be Fabio Quartararo, but time is given for reflection.
The Frenchman sees his results seriously hampered by the M1’s power deficit. His last dry podium under normal conditions dates back to October 2021. His ball qualities show, and everyone knows that if he finds himself struggling between 5th and 10th, the reasons are material.
What options do they have? Except explosive surprise, it will not go like Ducati, KTM and Aprilia. Stay therefore: expand to Yamaha if the project presented to him for 2023 suits him; knocking on the door of Suzuki, whose machine is the most similar to the M1, but with more power; join Marc Marquez at Honda.
The situation of the WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team is unclear. The team has difficulties, on the court but also outside. What will this mean? Hard to say. First, the Malaysian structure RNF will have to extend its contract with Yamaha, which the Japanese manufacturer hopes to do this summer. Then we have to solve the question of pilots.
Rookie in MotoGP, Darryn Binder could take advantage of this condition to benefit from a second year, to finish his apprenticeship and leave to see if he has his place or not. As for Andrea Dovizioso, he made it clear that he was not there to fight for points, which he is doing at the moment. Its adaptation to the M1 is making little progress. But a move would complicate the team’s affairs, because sponsor WithU is there to support the Italian veteran.
Who to join RNF in case of change? The name of Raúl Fernández is circulating, as he initially wanted to debut in MotoGP with a Yamaha. Also that of Jake Dixon, a Moto2 rider who Dorna would like to see in the premier category for the sake of the British market: there is no representative from Great Britain. And why not, simple idea, the current leader of the intermediate category, Celestino Vietti.
What about Toprak Razgatlioglu? The Superbike world champion wants to move up to MotoGP, but not at any price. He hopes that Yamaha will give him a place on the official team. This can only be done if Fabio Quartararo leaves. But other alternatives exist, such as placing it in RNF with factory support. Case to follow.
Marc Márquez will live his eleventh season with HRC in 2023, and even the twelfth in 2024 since it is already signed. Less certain, however, that Pol Espargaro remains his teammate. The Spaniard has secured two podiums since joining Repsol Honda in 2021 and will need more to keep his place.
Already this winter it was rumored that Honda was looking for a replacement for Polyccio. The names of the last two world champions, Joan Mir and Fabio Quartararo, were mentioned, both lacking podiums in recent months: the Spaniard has obtained one in the last six races, compared to one in seven Grands Prix for the French .
As for the LCR team, it seems increasingly difficult to keep the troops currently on the move intact. Alex Márquez and Takaaki Nakagami usually battle between 10th and 15th on good days, and on bad days struggle for points.
Nothing has been circulated about possible replacements yet, but there is a lead that leads to Ai Ogura. The LCR Honda team is sponsored by Japanese brand Idemitsu for the box side of Takaaki Nakagami. However, Idemitsu and Honda want to have a Japanese representative in MotoGP. That’s fine, Ai Ogura is currently second in the Moto2 world.
Under contract until 2024, Brad Binder already has an official KTM named after him. And the other three? “We want to continue as we are now”, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team principal recently stated. Which would mean extending Miguel Oliveira to the South African side, as well as Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez to Tech3.
The decision would correspond to the pilots, according to the Italian, and he does not mention it by chance. If Miguel Oliveira says he wants to extend, rumor has it in the paddock that he would be tempted to look elsewhere. A way to finally find consistency, what is able to dominate races – Portimao 2020, Barcelona 2021, Mandalika 2022 – then disappear the following week.
In the Tech3 team, Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez do not have the expected MotoGP debut: only the Australian has scored a point in four Grands Prix. Being beginners, the Austrian brand has to give them time, so at least one more year. It remains to be seen whether other manufacturers will listen. We know, for example, that last summer, Raúl Fernández wanted to be on a Yamaha instead of a KTM in 2022.
Partners since 2019, Alex Rins and Joan Mir could go on a fifth joint adventure with Team Suzuki Ecstar. In any case, this is the desire expressed by the team’s new coach, Livio Suppo, upon his arrival in the area.
The results are for Alex Rins, who has just signed two consecutive podiums and is second in the classification. Joan Mir is not yet in the table, but he is getting close and has just taken two fourth places. These results, and the progress of the Suzuki GSX-RR, are assets up the Japanese brand’s sleeve.
However, for a while there was talk of a transfer of Joan Mir, contacted by Honda. That possibility still officially exists, but it seems to have diminished. Should he leave, Suzuki would have to find a replacement for him. The name of Fabio Quartararo is mentioned, because the bike is the closest to the Yamaha, but with the power that it currently lacks.
Francesco Bagnaia has already signed for 2023 and 2024 with Ducati. As with Honda, KTM and Yamaha, the questions concern the name of the team’s official second rider. In this position since 2021, Jack Miller risks losing it to Jorge Martin.
The Spaniard is in pole position to join the Ducati Lenovo Team, adding his name to the list of promoted riders for the Pramac team. Enea Bastianini was also mentioned, but the odds are lower. The Italian is more likely to move up to Pramac or stay at Gresini, but with greater support from Ducati. Bestia’s latest statements on the matter are that he is not ruling anything out, and will assess the transfer window later.
A Ducati rider since 2020, Johann Zarco hopes to still be a Ducati rider in 2023. Pramac team boss Paolo Campinoti was very supportive. And this is where the equation gets thorny: between Enea Bastianini, Jack Miller, Johann Zarco and Jorge Martin, there are four drivers to carry three GP22s: one in the official team, two with Pramac.
At Gresini Racing, obviously, we dream of keeping Enea Bastianini but it won’t be easy, due to the status of a player he is in the process of acquiring. His teammate Fabio di Giannantonio should be able to stay in his place. Little is currently known about the Mooney VR46 Racing Team, but the proximity of Luca Marini and the speed shown by Marco Bezzecchi make us believe that they will not miss an expansion proposal.
Winner of his first Grand Prix in Argentina, Aleix Espargaró has never been as fast as he is now with the Aprilia RS-GP. His results encourage him to want to extend two seasons, he has been with Noale since 2017. But the first contacts with the Italian brand were “very disappointing”.
By his own admission, the Spanish pilot expected more and hopes that his work will be valued in a different way than the proposal received. As far as GP-Inside was able to learn, this would be an economic problem to be solved.
Coming into September 2021, Maverick Viñales is making progress and believes it is only a matter of time and adaptation before he joins the main group. In these circumstances, it is a safe bet that the Spaniard and his company will find common ground to continue their journey together. Stopping now would make no sense.