As the 2020 MotoGP season finally gets underway after a lengthy delay, the 2021 grid is already taking shape after several big rider announcements came out on Monday with yet more still to follow.
Speculation has been swirling for the past few weeks over Alex Marquez’s uncertain future at Repsol Honda. Despite only gracing the distinctive Honda powered machine for testing, it was announced he would be moving to the satellite LCR unit and Pol Espargaro would instead be claiming the lucrative spot alongside reigning world-champion Marc Marquez who signed an extraordinary five-year extension with the Japanese manufacturer.
Whilst the move seems somewhat harsh on the young Spaniard, the Honda is a notoriously difficult bike to get to grips with for any rider, let alone a rookie during such a bizarre, tightly packed season. It is yet to be confirmed who will be teaming up with A.Marquez for 2021.
KTM were one of the first to announce their full line-up in June as they announced Miguel Oliveira would partner Brad Binder at the factory team whilst their satellite team, Tech3, would retain Iker Lecuona and welcome current Ducati Corsi rider Danilo Petrucci to the Austrian based outfit.
Petronas also announced they had renewed with Italian Franco Morbidelli for another two years. The news comes after it was announced earlier in the year that current teammate Fabio Quartararo would be moving to the Yamaha factory team to join Maverick Vinales. It has yet to be announced who will join Morbidelli at Petronas but rumours of a deal with nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi has been gaining momentum over the extended break. Whilst many may see the possible move for Rossi as a demotion, the Petronas team displayed how capable they are of producing a competitive bike and running at the front of the pack during their duet year in the premier class.
Suzuki also made the decision to retain both of their riders for two-years. In May, they announced America race winner Alex Rins and 2017 Moto3 World Champion Joan Mir would continue with the team.
Whilst several teams have announced their 2021 line-ups over the recent months and their plans to retain some, if not all, of their current riders, there are still many with seats waiting to be announced.
Ducati are one of who are yet to announce their full line-up after revealing they would be taking on the services of Australian rider Jack Miller as he moves from the satellite Pramac team up to the factory team. Reale Avintia already announced in 2019 they will be keeping Tito Rabat on until at least 2021 whilst Aprillia stated they would be continuing with Aleix Espargaro for an additional two-years with no word on who will be teaming up with the Spanish rider.
With Andrea Iannone’s fate yet to be completely decided and a lengthy ban looking to be in the pipeline, that leaves five riders who have yet to sign and six vacant seats, possibly opening up an opportunity for one of the rising Moto2 stars to get their big break.
The MotoGP season gets underway on Friday with Free Practice for all three categories as well as the MotoE class.