MotoGP Movers and Shakers
June 4, 2024 Off

MotoGP Movers and Shakers

By MRWadmin

By Rob Portman

The wonderful world of MotoGP just gets more and more exciting with every passing day, both on and off track. While the on-track action is faster and more intense than ever, so are the off-track affairs with rider and team rumors changing by the second. At the recent Mugello round, things looked to have found their way, but that was Saturday, come Monday and things would take a dramatic and surprising turn.

Source: Aleix Espargaró

Jorge Martin is set to join the factory Aprilia team. In an unconventional move, Aprilia Racing CEO Romano Albesiano announced via an Instagram post that the Pramac Ducati rider will replace the retiring Aleix Espargaro. This was later confirmed with an official statement revealing Martin had signed a “multi-year” deal.

This announcement ends weeks of intense speculation about the future lineup of the Ducati factory team. Initially, it seemed Martin would secure a seat in the factory Ducati team, while Marc Marquez was offered a GP25 ride with Pramac Ducati. However, Marquez publicly rejected the move to Pramac, arguing it made no sense to switch from one satellite team to another.

This rejection appears to have disrupted Ducati’s plans. Reports from Motorsport.com and Spanish daily AS.com indicate Ducati had offered Martin a contract with the factory Lenovo team, contingent on Marquez not winning the 2023 MotoGP title. Marquez reportedly declined this offer, indicating he had other factory team opportunities if not placed in the Ducati factory team. Marc seemed to push Ducati’s buttons by then heading into the Tech3 GasGas hospitality on Thursday at Mugello sparking rumors of both him and his brother Alex taking over the Tech3 team with factory KTM machinery.

Image by MotoGP

Ducati seemingly had to reconsider their strategy. It now appears they have offered Marquez the second seat in the factory team alongside Pecco Bagnaia, prompting Martin to sign with Aprilia. The Martin to Aprilia move literally happened overnight, with Aprilia management saying that Martin contacted us on Sunday night wanting to join the team. Aprilia quickly got their lawyers out of bed and put together the fastest contact ever for Martin and Aprilia to sign the next day at the official Mugello test. This was done at 5.30 pm local time and at 6 pm the news broke the internet.

Was this move down to Martin’s annoyance with Ducati to get the deal done? We think so, although it could also be Martin wanting to find his path and be the “number one” and most appreciated rider in the team, something he might not have got at Ducati, even if he does go on to win the title. It seems as if it was very much a “take Marc then, goodbye” approach from Martin, either way, the deal is done and makes the rest of the 2024 season and 2025 season very spicy indeed. Martin has more of a point to prove than ever now and will want nothing more than to take the number 1 plate away from Ducati and with his to Aprilia next season.

Although Ducati has yet to officially confirm, the likely factory Ducati lineup will be Pecco Bagnaia and Marc Marquez. This development has created uncertainty among satellite teams. Pramac faces the choice of remaining with Ducati or potentially switching to Yamaha, which seems increasingly likely. This could place factory Ducati GP25s in the VR46 squad, possibly with Fermin Aldeguer on one bike. Additionally, it opens the possibility of two more Yamahas with factory support.

Before all this madness, KTM officially announced that Pedro Acosta would join the Red Bull Factory KTM Racing team for 2025. A new multi-year deal with the 20-year-old Grand Prix sensation sees #31 equipped with a KTM RC16 for his fifth season at the highest level and second in MotoGP. The Spaniard has been an outstanding sight in 2024 and his first attempt at the premier class. Acosta has already totaled two podium finishes to date – one of the youngest riders in the sport to stand on the rostrum as well as the youngest to grab back-to-back silverware – and is roaming the fringes of the top five in the world championship standings.

Image by KTM press (Rob Gray Polarity Photo)

It was also confirmed that Pedro would join the team alongside Brad Binder, ending all speculation that Brad would be pushed aside to make way not only for Pedro, but also potentially Marc Marquez.

More news regarding KTM broke unofficially on Monday with the news that Enea Bastianini would be joining the Tech3 team for 2025 but not in GasGas colours, but rather that of full factory Red Bull KTM orange. This has been confirmed by Carlos Pernat, Enea’s manager, but no official word from KTM just yet (this may have been confirmed as you read this). KTM’s reason for going with four KTM factory-branded bikes could be to prevent the “B” team from outshining the “A” team, something that has happened with Pedro and Tech3 so far this season. With all 4 bikes in the same livery and same spec, no matter which rider crosses the line first it will be a factory KTM, rather than the “B” team GasGas. The flip side is also KTM putting pressure on Dorna and new MotoGP owners, Liberty Media, to allow them 2 more bikes – GasGas, Husqvarna, or MV Agusta. This is all just our minds wondering off though, no confirmed substance to it all.

It seems as though, if true, Enea will take the place of Pedro in the Tech3 team with the second spot still up for grabs. Jack Miller has been mentioned as the second rider, but judging by Jack’s comments after Mugello he is not sure what his next move will be. Talk is that he could be on his way to the factory Honda team, replacing Joan Mir, who is undecided if he wants to carry on racing in MotoGP or pack it all up, for now. We can’t honestly see Mir carrying on and certainly not with Honda. His best bet would be a move to Gresini Ducati or Trackhouse Aprilia, which are genuine possibilities for him.

With the talk of MM93 heading to the factory Ducati team that leaves his spot in the Gresini team up for grabs. This is a hot ticket seat, proven by MM93 this season and Enea in the previous. No doubt many riders will have their agents on the phone to the team. The likes of Miguel Oliveira and Joan Mir could use a move like this to reignite their racing careers. Miguel’s name has also been mentioned with the vacant Pramac Ducati, or Yamaha ride for 2025.

And then there’s the curious case of Maverick Vinales. What does the Spanish rider do now that Martin will be joining? What seemed like a done deal with Vinales and Aprilia is now up in the air, with “nothing being confirmed yet” according to both parties. Will Vinales be happy to have Martin as a teammate? Will he be happy to be the potential “second” rider in the team behind Martin? Will he be looking at a move to Pramac Ducati (if they stay with Ducai), or Gresini Ducati? Time will tell. We think staying with Aprilia would be his best move. Vinales’ decision could also impact the Enea to KTM deal, as it’s just been reported that Enea is waiting in the wings for the 2nd seat at Aprilia if Vinales does not sign.

With four weeks until Assen, expect a flurry of announcements as these negotiations unfold. Stay tuned to our channels for up-to-date news.