Posted: 28 Sep 2013
As we’ve known for a while, contracts for the main rides in MotoGP for 2014 have all been signed and sealed; we already know that Yamaha and Honda will keep hold of their current riders; Ducati will switch Nicky Hayden for Cal Crutchlow who will in turn be replaced by Pol Espargaro joining Bradley Smith at Tech 3.
Bike Social’s Scott Redding will join the Gresini team on a Honda production racer, alongside Alvaro Bautista who is 99% certain to be keeping his prototype ride, for 2014 at least and Germany’s Stefan Bradl will remain with LCR Honda.
However there’s still movement in the paddock that is worth keeping an eye on… Forward Racing recently announced they’d be running Yamaha M1s in 2014 with the Dorna spec-ECU. Essentially, it’ll be a 2013 Yamaha prepared by British company FTR but the most important aspect to this project is by running the spec-ECU, these bikes are permitted to use four extra litres of fuel. This has made the Forward Racing Yamaha’s the most sought after bikes in the paddock as in the past few months with a large queue of riders wanting to get on one. Now it’s looking all-but-confirmed that Aleix Espargaro will jump from the Aspar Team to join Forward’s current rider, Colin Edwards on these new Yamahas for 2014.
One question arising from this however is whether Aleix Espargaro’s move is to be the right one… Aspar are said to be getting some serious upgrades and a lot of support from Aprilia for 2014, with expectations leaning towards the Italian manufacturer making a factory entry in the next few years. Nicky Hayden has made no secret of the fact he’s being courted by Aprilia, his family were seen coming out of the Aspar trucks in Misano and his paddock scooter was spotted parked up next to the Aspar truck yesterday in Aragon. What’s more, the 2006 MotoGP champion admitted in a press conference that things are looking good but said a deal is yet to be done. If paddock rumours are to be believed, Hayden won’t be joining current Aspar rider Randy de Puniet, who looks set to turn to a full-time role at Suzuki testing their new prototype ahead of their 2015 return. Whether this will include 2014 wildcard rides remains to be seen. The most likely candidate to replace de Puniet for 2014 is Eugene Laverty, who has been cast out of Aprilia’s World Superbike effort despite having taken more wins than any other rider in the production based series so far this year.
With regard to the remaining CRTs, little is certain. Karel Abraham’s team have allegedly bought a Honda production racer and rumour has it Paul Bird has signed British Superbike star Alex Lowes on a two year deal to partner Michael Laverty in the all-British outfit. Laverty’s seat for 2014 is yet to be confirmed though, he’ll switch from the PBM-01 machine to Yonny Hernandez’ ART machine for the remainder of the season as the Colombian replaces Ben Spies at Pramac Ducati.
Hernandez is said to be guaranteed a seat in MotoGP for 2014, however where that’ll be remains to be seen. Latest rumours from the World Superbike paddock suggest Ducati are planning to move Spies to champion the 1199 Panigale project so the Pramac seat could well be available for Hernandez if not someone else.