Author: Oli Rushby Posted: 04 Aug 2015
After a three-week break, the MotoGP paddock is currently reassembling itself in Indianapolis with the second half of the season about to get underway.
It’s been an unusually quiet summer break. By this point there is usually lots of news flying around about who will ride where next year, but with the main players all sorted for 2016 – silly season almost seems non-existent.
Yamaha and Honda will both retain their all-star line-ups next season while Andrea Dovizioso is also on a two-year contract with Ducati, who will almost certainly keep Andrea Iannone for 2016 too.
Suzuki will keep Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales while Aprilia also has Alvaro Bautista under contract for next year.
MORE OF THE SAME - TECH 3 TO STICK WITH ESPARGARO AND SMITH?
On top of this, with new electronics rules and Michelin tyres being introduced for 2016 – satellite teams are reluctant to ditch the riders they are running this season in order to keep something the same. Taking on a new rider, as well as new electronics and tyres would be a tall order.
With that in mind, plus their historic victory at Suzuka just two weeks ago, Tech 3 Yamaha look set to retain their line-up, with Pol Espargaro having already penned a deal with Yamaha and Bradley Smith's new contract rumoured to be around the corner.
Smith currently sits sixth in the championship, joint on points with Andrea Dovizioso and leading satellite rider ahead of fellow Brit Cal Crutchlow. While Espargaro’s season hasn’t been that impressive, his performance at Suzuka will have done him many favours when it came to renewing his deal directly with Yamaha.
CRUTCHLOW AND REDDING, TEAM MATES?
The biggest piece of news we are waiting on is from Honda regarding how many bikes they will field next year. There are currently eight RCV machines on the grid, four RC213V factory bikes and four RC213V-RS production racers.
It’s highly likely there won’t be eight Hondas on the grid next season. Karel Abraham’s Cardion AB Racing team is likely to leave MotoGP and there’s a huge question mark over whether Jorge Martinez can continue to fund the two-bike Aspar squad following the withdrawal of sponsor Drive M7 earlier this year.
On top of that, Lucio Cechinello could struggle to fund two RCVs next season should his sponsor CWM disappear amidst their legal troubles. Scott Redding is likely to retain his seat at Marc VDS and Honda are keen to keep hold of Cal Crutchlow too. The problem they have is what to do with Jack Miller. The Aussie has a three-year contract with HRC so they have to place him somewhere and what’s more is they’ll have to foot the cost too.
A one-rider team with Jack Miller, funded largely by HRC is an attractive prospect for a financially strapped team like LCR or Aspar.
Should LCR opt to keep Miller in a one-rider outfit, Honda then need to find somewhere for Crutchlow. It is here where rumours place the Brit alongside Scott Redding in Estrella Galicia Marc VDS colours – with Michael Bartholemy thought to be keen to expand.
However, with both Aki Ajo’s (who manages Jack Miller) outfit and Leopard Racing both rumoured to be interested in stepping up to MotoGP in the grid slots left vacant by teams allegedly set to leave the premier class, Forward Racing, Ioda and Cardion AB, Honda’s satellite line-up could be far from sorted.
Danilo Petrucci will remain at Pramac Ducati next season, with the team getting two Desmosedici GP15s. Given the factory team’s success on the new bike there is a hefty queue forming at Franceso Guidotti’s door.
Eugene Laverty is contracted to Aspar for 2016, but the Spaniard is rumoured to have told both Laverty and Hayden to look elsewhere in case he cannot finance the team.
Hayden looks set to head to World Superbikes with Aprilia while Laverty could take the second GP15 at Pramac Ducati given his strong relationship with Gigi Dall’Igna. This would see Yonny Hernandez move back to the Avintia Racing team.
Aprilia has just signed Stefan Bradl to replace Melandri for the remainder of 2015 and it’s thought the German could have clauses relating to next season in his contract. This could scupper a potential deal for Sam Lowes to move into the premier class, but as the only German in MotoGP Bradl will have Dorna on side.
Things are as political as ever in MotoGP at the moment and with some teams uncertain about they’re future, they aren’t likely to be signing up riders any time soon. Some deals, such as Smith to remain at Tech 3 should be announced in the next few weeks but the remainder of this year’s news may take a while to wriggle out of the woodwork.