The Last Missing Parts of the 2023 MotoGP Rider Market

As the 2022 MotoGP season comes back to life this weekend at Silverstone after a long five-week summer break, it’s also time for the final pieces of the silly 2023 season to fall into place as well.

More than half of the grid is already entered, of course, but there are still some very important moves to be made as the grid continues to reshuffle following the shock news of Suzuki leaving at the end of this year.

Throwing a spanner in the works for many riders and upsetting the plans of Joan Mir and Alex Rins in particular, both hoping to continue with the team for 2023, means we may be delayed to find out exactly who will be in what . colors next year – but shouldn’t have to wait too long to find out.

Ducati factory

Martin versus Bastianini

Who will be on Ducati’s second factory next year alongside Pecco Bagnaia is one we at least almost have an answer to, with Ducati being completely open that it’s now a battle between Jorge Martin and Enea Bastianini to replace Jack Miller.

The deadline for a decision is expected to be around the Austrian Grand Prix later this month, meaning an announcement at Ducati’s home round at Misano in early September wouldn’t be much of a surprise.

Despite a strong start to the year for Bastianini which featured three wins, it seems the odds have now swung in favor of Martin, whose own start to the season has been beset by crashes and the lingering aftereffects of the massive crash at last April in Portimao. .

Pramac Ducati

The consolation prize (decent)

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The one of the Martin/Bastianini pair that does not end up in factory red will remain with tier-one satellite team builder Pramac Racing.

Ducati has stressed that whoever ends up having to “settle” for the Pramac ride will suffer no contractual downgrade over the other, and will have the same machine specs and level of support.

Nonetheless, and despite the sleek new look of the Pramac bikes introduced mid-season, it just isn’t quite the same as the prestige of full Ducati red, is it?

Whoever gets the Pramac ride will be joined by Johann Zarco, who, although not yet announced, is interested in staying and has the backing of the team to do so.

VR46 Ducati

Everything is done except the announcement

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Expect no changes to VR46 for 2023, although we haven’t officially confirmed that yet.

The team is happy with both Marco Bezzecchi (a podium last time out in Assen) and Luca Marini (making big improvements throughout the first half of the season), and it’s hard to see either or the other go elsewhere, especially with the dead end of Ducati at Pramac. and the factory team.

The main loser is Moto2 championship leader Celestino Vietti, of course, with no place for him not only in his own team’s premier class effort, but elsewhere on the MotoGP grid either, leaving him stuck in the series of middleweights for at least one more year.

Repsol Honda

Superteam unofficially secured

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Just because there hasn’t been official word yet confirming Joan Mir at Honda doesn’t mean the deal hasn’t been done – and the fact that Mir hasn’t been in contention for another previously open seat (like the LCR spot taken by Alex Rins) is a pretty big hint that the 2020 world champion is going to join Marc Marquez in 2023.

No one can guess when exactly we can expect the news to come out, but even as soon as this weekend’s British Grand Prix would come as a huge shock to no one.

LCR Honda

The fight for the “Japanese” seat only goes one way

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After committing to Rins as a replacement for Alex Marquez, LCR have been pretty coy about which way the wind is blowing for the other ride, which is backed by Japanese company Idemitsu – which is widely described as a question for Honda to decide.

This is known to be a case of Moto2 rider Ai Ogura against incumbent Takaaki Nakagami, and Ogura’s performance in 2022 has been strong enough that there is hardly any expectation that Nakagami can hope to win a reprieve after five seasons of MotoGP which did not present all the podiums.

Tech3 KTM

Expect a reunion

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It is clear that KTM has not prioritized maintaining an unchanged line-up for Tech3, as it is known to have offered a place there to Miguel Oliveira – excluded from the works team following the long contract Brad Binder’s term and Miller’s signature.

But Oliveira did not accept the proposal, and KTM will not oppose his departure, choosing instead to offer sanctuary to Pol Espargaro – a “lame duck” at Honda now thanks to Mir, and someone whose Best years in MotoGP so far have been spent on a KTM RC16.

Despite a brief disagreement between KTM and its manager, Remy Gardner is expected to be retained by the team.

RNFAprilia

KTM contract spat could be a heist

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That theoretically leaves Gardner’s teammate Raul Fernandez, but KTM insisted he retain an option on Fernandez’s services, hinting it would take a financial deal to get him out of contract.

Only Aprilia’s future satellite team RNF is in a position to act on this, having already been heavily linked with Fernandez when it was still the Petronas-backed Yamaha satellite team RNF.

RNF has Darryn Binder and Andrea Dovizioso on the books right now. Dovizioso has shown less than zero public interest in extending his MotoGP career beyond 2022, while Binder wants to be in the mix but is realistic in admitting he is not first choice. But he’s at least a presumed fallback if KTM’s demands for Fernandez’s release prove prohibitive.

Either way, Oliveira appears to be a lock for the other side of the garage.

Probable composition of MotoGP 2023

Ducati: Pecco Bagnaia/Enea Bastianini or Jorge Martin
Yamaha: Fabio Quartararo/Franco Morbidelli
Aprilia: Aleix Espargaro/Maverick Vinales
KTM: Brad Binder/Jack Miller
Honda: Joan Mir/Marc Marquez
Pramac Ducati: Johann Zarco/Enea Bastianini or Jorge Martin
Gresini Ducati: Alex Marquez/Fabio di Giannantonio
Ducati VR46: Marco Bezzecchi/Luca Marini
RNF Aprilia: Miguel Oliveira/Raúl Fernandez
Tech3KTM: Pol Espargaro/Remy Gardner
LCR Honda: Alex Rin/Ai Ogura

Runners in italics = transaction not yet officially concluded or announced

Earnest L. Veasey