Author: Oli Rushby Posted: 09 Sep 2015
As the MotoGP circus prepares to resume in Misano the puzzle that makes up the 2016 grid is almost complete.
With all but one factory ride taken until the end of next season, there were only limited options available in MotoGP this year.
2016 will see the return of Michelin as the spec-tyre supplier and spec-electronics will be rolled out across the board, meaning many teams have been keen to retain their existing line-ups to ensure some form of consistency.
In line with this, both Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro will remain at Tech 3 Yamaha each on one-year deals; Espargaro having signed with the Yamaha factory and Smith with the Tech 3 team itself.
Cal Crutchlow will remain with his LCR Honda team having signed a two year deal ahead of last month’s British Grand Prix. Who will line up alongside him in the Lucio Cechinello outfit remains to be seen…
MILLER: 'I WILL BE ON A HONDA, BUT I DON'T KNOW WHERE'
Crutchlow’s current team mate, Jack Miller, is contracted by HRC until the end of 2017 meaning the Japanese factory have to find somewhere for the Aussie to race.
Having lost their title sponsor, CWM, it’s said the LCR Team are unsure if they can afford to field a second RC213V next season but given HRC’s obligation to Miller it’s likely they’ll foot the bill for him to remain.
If Miller doesn’t stay at LCR, he will almost certainly be placed in the Aspar Team, which is also struggling for funds to run next season. Eugene Laverty has a two-year contract with the Jorge Martinez outfit, but it’s thought he’s assessing his options for the future with rumours surfacing of a return to the World Superbike championship. However, should Honda foot the bill for Miller to ride with the team, Laverty could retain his seat.
KENT DESTINED FOR MOTOGP
Danny Kent is still thought to be considering a step up to the premier class next year despite having turned down a ride with Pramac Ducati. It is rumoured the potential Moto3 World Champion is in talks with Honda about long-term deal which could see him placed in either the LCR or Aspar teams for 2016 should he choose to bypass Moto2.
“Ducati was an option but the offer they made me was not acceptable,” Kent told Bike Social last month. “Since then, we’ve got more options in MotoGP. While Moto2 is still an option, if we can get a good option to go to MotoGP next year is the perfect year to make that step.”
LOWES TO REMAIN IN MOTO2
Another young Brit pondering a step up to the MotoGP class next year is Sam Lowes, who had looked set to progress to the premier class with Aprilia next year. While it’s almost certain Lowes will pen a deal with the Noale factory, it’s now thought that deal will include another year in Moto2 on Kalex machinery.
“I want to go to MotoGP and learn but I also want to stay in Moto2 and try and win the title,” said Lowes speaking to Bike Social. “If we can mix those two things together it would be the perfect option. If I can do something that’s a multi-year agreement that’s going to have my back over the next few years there aren’t many people in the paddock that have that so we can go from there.”
An announcement on Lowes’ future is expected this weekend in Misano, with Stefan Bradl to remain with the Aprilia team next season should Lowes opt for Moto2.
RABAT PROMOTED AT MARC VDS
Tito Rabat is expected to replace Scott Redding in the Marc VDS Honda Team, although this is by no means certain with more news from the Michael Bartholemy-run outfit is expected in the next few weeks.
Avintia Ducati are expected to retain open-class leader Hector Barbera, with Yonny Hernandez moving back to the Spanish squad after losing his Pramac seat to Scott Redding.
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?
The final question, which is unlikely to be answered until later in the year, revolves around which teams could be leaving the championship. Forward Racing have been in difficulty since the arrest of their team boss earlier this summer and their future in MotoGP is currently unknown. Yamaha have been unable to commit bikes to the team, meaning they could run a Moto2-only effort next season.
IODA Racing are another team thought to be throwing in the towel next year. The Italian outfit is still running the hugely out-dated ART Aprilia and is another team to be struggling with finances since losing title sponsor OCTO to Pramac earlier this year.
Karel Abraham could also disappear from the MotoGP grid next year. It’s not thought the Cardion AB Racing team will get a Honda RC213V to race leaving them with little choice but to leave. They have been in talks with KTM about running their MotoGP project from 2017 onwards and other rumours link the squad to a World Superbike switch.
The final movers and shakers should be revealed in the next couple of weeks to end what has been both a remarkably late and short MotoGP silly season, but worry not – with all factory contracts ending next year, the 2017 rumour mill won’t be far away.
2016 MotoGP Grid
Movistar Yamaha: Valentino Rossi & Jorge Lorenzo
Repsol Honda: Marc Marquez & Dani Pedrosa
Ducati Team: Andrea Dovizioso & Andrea Iannone
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha: Bradley Smith & Pol Espargaro
Pramac Ducati: Scott Redding & Danilo Petrucci
Ecstar Suzuki: Maverick Vinales & Aleix Espargaro
LCR Honda: Cal Crutchlow & Jack Miller? Danny Kent?
Marc VDS Honda: Tito Rabat?
Aspar Honda: Eugene Laverty? Danny Kent? Jack Miller?
Aprilia: Alvaro Bautista, Stefan Bradl?
Avintia Ducati: Hector Barbera? Yonny Hernandez? Mike di Meglio?