Silly Season So Far, Post-Crutchlow - Who Is Going Where

With the announcement that Cal Crutchlow is to move to the LCR Honda team for 2015, making space for Andrea Iannone to move up to the Factory Ducati team, the beginnings of a MotoGP grid are starting to emerge for 2015. Both Repsol Honda seats are confirmed, as are both Factory Ducati riders and Valentino Rossi at Movistar Yamaha, with Jorge Lorenzo expected to announce a deal with Yamaha very soon. In the satellite teams, only Pol Espargaro is confirmed at Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, as is Crutchlow at CWM-LCR Honda.

With those names in place, we can start to draw up a list of who will be where, and who could be where for 2015. We have broken that list into three separate tables, based on the certainty of their deals: riders with confirmed contracts; riders and teams with deals that are expected to be confirmed very soon; and deals which are likely to happen, but are still not certain. The confirmed deals speak for themselves, those riders will definitely be on those bikes in 2015 (or longer - the contract date is in the last column of the table). The interest is in the expected and possible tables, where things are still far from certain.

Jorge Lorenzo is certain to stay at Movistar Yamaha, the question is more when his contract will be announced. At Gresini Honda, Scott Redding will stay on for another year and is almost certain to take over the full factory RC213V currently being ridden by Alvaro Bautista. The only details which remain to be debated are the choice of brakes and suspension: Redding would like to switch to Ohlins and Brembo, Gresini are keen to retain their deal with Nissin and Showa. Though nothing has been officially announced, it seems certain that Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales will form Suzuki's MotoGP team in 2015, while Yonny Hernandez looks a shoe-in to retain the Open bike at Pramac Ducati. The Avintia team will switch from Kawasaki to Ducati, with Hector Barbera almost certain to stay.

Aprilia's participation seems certain to go ahead in 2015, though the question of who will ride for them remains open. There are strong rumors that Marco Melandri will make the switch with Aprilia, though they could leave Melandri in World Superbikes, and bring Eugene Laverty back into the fold to race in MotoGP. Alvaro Bautista looks like a solid candidate for the Aprilia ride, given his extensive experience in MotoGP, and with Aprilia in the past.

As for the rest of the riders - the second Tech 3 bike, the other Open Hondas at LCR (now looking certain to take place), Gresini, and the second seat at Aspar, the two Forward Yamahas - it is hard to determine who will go where. The most desirable ride is surely the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha bike, and Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal had been looking at young riders to take the place of Bradley Smith. The problem is that most of the young talent is already under contract, Herve Poncharal told me: Maverick Viñales is off to Suzuki, Alex Rins and Alex Marquez will be going to Moto2, Jonas Folger is locked into a contract in Moto2, and Jack Miller is in the hands of HRC. That makes Bradley Smith a more attractive prospect once again. "We will for two more races, and see if Bradley can fulfil his potential," Poncharal said. There was no rush to make a decision. "We can wait until Silverstone if we have to."

At Forward, the odds are good that Stefan Bradl will take one of the two free slots, though Bradl is also being linked to the open seat at Pramac, as is Danilo Petrucci. Jack Miller's future is still undecided - the Marc VDS Racing team have accepted that he will not be riding for them in 2015, but are still pursuing the claims of the contract they hold with the young Australian - with HRC keen to put Miller in MotoGP, with strong backing from Dorna. Miller also has a slot with the Pons Moto2 team, which would be the logical place for him to land.

There are a couple of names waiting in the wings from the World Superbike championship as well. Eugene Laverty is being strongly linked to rides in MotoGP next year, and Jonathan Rea is also a strong candidate. Rea is rumored to have been chasing the LCR Honda ride, but lost out when Crutchlow grabbed that seat. From Moto2, Mika Kallio has strong interest from several Open class teams, even stronger than last year. A ride at Aspar or Forward could be possible for the Finn, though his future is far from decided. 

With the paddock set to reconvene at Indianapolis in a couple of days' time, negotiations will move to a higher gear. Many satellite riders had contracts forbidding them to open negotiations for next year before 31st July, and Indy is the first opportunity to hold face-to-face meetings discretely. The Red Bull Indianapolis GP is likely to see several deals closed, and a provoke further flurries of speculation.


Repsol Honda    
  Marc Marquez 2016
  Dani Pedrosa 2016
Movistar Yamaha    
  Valentino Rossi 2016
Factory Ducati    
  Andrea Dovizioso 2016
  Andrea Iannone 2015
LCR Honda    
  Cal Crutchlow 2015
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha    
  Pol Espargaro 2015
Drive M7 Aspar    
  Nicky Hayden 2015
Cardion AB    
  Karel Abraham  



Movistar Yamaha    
  Jorge Lorenzo 2016 (option to leave after 2015)
Go&Fun Gresini Honda    
  Scott Redding 2015
Suzuki Aleix Espargaro ?
  Maverick Viñales 2017
Pramac Ducati    
  Yonny Hernandez 2015
  Alvaro Bautista?  
  Eugene Laverty?  
  Marco Melandri?  
Avintia Ducati    
  Hector Barbera  


Possible deals and strong rumors

Monster Tech 3 Yamaha  
  Bradley Smith?
Forward Yamaha  
  Stefan Bradl?
  Alex De Angelis?
Pramac Ducati  
  Danilo Petrucci?
Go&Fun Gresini Honda  
  Jack Miller?
LCR Honda  
  Jack Miller?
Multiple teams  
  Johnny Rea
  Mika Kallio


Back to top


I've always been a fan of the Fin. I would love to see him have the opportunity to get back on a MotoGP bike. Doesn't seem likely, but I don't think he's ever been given credit due as a rider.

With all of this talk of various manufacturers planning their return; have there been any rumors of Kawasaki or BMW possibly joining the party anytime soon? Or are they content to just focus on WSBK and be the only ones not in MotoGP? It would seem that the next year or two would be the best time to do it if either were inclined to do so.

The Avintia team was Kawasaki putting a toe in the water, without any direct involvement. I suspect that they had the lessons of their last involvement confirmed: that it costs fistfuls of money to not even be competitive. Kawasaki are happy dominating World Superbikes at a much lower cost.

As for BMW, they have pulled out entirely from direct participation in racing. They have decided that they can benefit a lot more by backing privateers in various championships around the globe. BMW issues press releases when their privateers win, claiming some of the glory, but when their privateers come in 8th, or 12th, or 23rd, they don't have to take any responsibility, and can just carry on as if nothing had happened. It's much cheaper, a more effective marketing tool, and by choosing their collaborations carefully, still provides a return in terms of R&D.

It's common knowledge that I'm an Alvaro Bautista fanboy, but the fact remains that he's the only non-factory rider with a podium finish this season. I know Gresini expects more, and I know he has the potential, so I hope he gets a decent running machine (if he goes to Aprilia). I'd hate to see him just fade out of the class, if not out of the sport.

I somehow find it difficult to believe that Aprilia will hasten its entry into MotoGP when their "star" designer Luigi Dall'Igna has only recently left them. I know nothing about Romano Albesiano but thus far I have not heard or read that he is a person who can fast track things. To me this seems to be a question mark but with a potential no as an answer.

I really do not know what Avintia are doing in MotoGP. They seem to have money but they do not show any intention of moving up the grid. The fact that they still claim to be negotiating with Ducati along with Yamaha and Kawasaki might be a ploy to get the Ducati bikes at a lower price but really what good will the Ducati do? If they have the resources that they are supposed to have, why not become an aggressive team looking for better motorcycles?

BMW is not into any motor racing as per their own proclamation. They will restrict themselves to supporting gentleman racers with spare parts etc and Kawasaki, my favourite marque, don't seem to want to have serious competition. After having ended with the wooden spoon in all the years that they have participated in MotoGP in the 21st century, they seem to be reluctant to comeback to the series and win the wooden spoon again. And I guess that is understandable.

I'm not so sure about Kalio. I remember his last attempt at MotoGP and he definitely looked the most likely to fall off, or get in someone's way. I've no doubt he's improved but, I don't know, it feels to me as if he's only just now consistently hitting the high notes.

Bautista is flawed as well I reckon. It was the same on the Suzuki - inconsistent, unreliable, it always feels that he's right on the edge. And he may have had a podium but he still has four other satellite riders in front of him in the championship, including two rookies.

Smith is in that horrible place inhabited by Toseland a few years ago. I hate to see him so desperate to hang on to his ride although I suppose the fact that the desirables coming through are limited will help. We know that Herve is a bit of an Anglophile - how about a punt on Sam Lowes?

... that is pretty harsh on Kallio. After all he outperformed his teammate consistently and Ducati picked him to join the Factory team to cover Casey Stoner's illness. He performed admirably- so much so, I believe, he is the next most successful Ducati rider after Stoner in that period (post 2007).

Admittedly, the end of his time in MotoGP was less successful but apparently he had significant troubles in his personal life. No excuse but given his earlier performances, riding a bike no one but Stoner could ride competitively, were worthy of another chance.

MotoGP riders should have a short shelf life. It's the pinnacle of the sport; older, underperforming riders should be moved aside for exciting, new possibilities. This year's Moto2 and--especially--Moto3 races show how many talented, young riders there are out there. How someone like Alvaro Bautista can still be taking up a MotoGP ride is beyond me.

In no particular order, here are the riders I think should no longer be considered:

Alvaro Bautista
Hector Barbera
Alex D'Angelis
Scott Redding
Eugene Laverty
Marco Melandri
and, I hate to say it, Nicky Hayden

Okay, there was a particular order--I put Nicky last, because it really pains me. But if I'm going to be honest about my premise, his name has to be included.

Man, I watch any Moto3 race, and all I can do is wonder where all these completely deserving kids are going to fit. Especially if, year after year, I keep seeing Alex D'Angelis at the back end of the MotoGP grid. Or Mika Kallio, for that matter. Wow, this is going to piss some people paraphrase the Soup Nazi, "No stars for you!"

"Especially if, year after year, I keep seeing Alex D'Angelis at the back end of the MotoGP grid. Or Mika Kallio, for that matter."

Sorry, but both Kalio and DeAngelis have not been in MotoGP for a few years now. DeAngelis has been a mid-pack racer in Moto2 with several teams since he left the big show and Kalio has been a top 5-10 racer in Moto2 since he joined a top team (MVDS Racing)

This is Redding's first year in the class. He is having to learn the Bridgestone tires and a vast range of set up options, including electronics. He is the fastest rider on a production Honda. I think it's a bit premature to be writing him off.

He can stay. But if we're going to keep all these riders, we'll need to find some more decent bikes.

especially that he's already here. I never understood how people like DeAngelis, Bradley or Barbera made it to GP with their results while previous world champions struggled to make a mark. As for Hayden he should have gone to SBK couple years ago.
And SBK boys moving to GP, I think Bayliss, Spies and co showed that even the best aren't necessarily able to make it in GP...

Chaps, I can't help jumping in and stating the obvious. Someone is always going to come in 20th or 21st aka last. As most riders generally earn their MotoGP ride through success and/or promise in the lower classes, it seems fair to assume that 9/10ths of the reason is the bike. So what would you do? Keep chucking out all those who never win or make the podium in the expectation that the next one along will do better? How many would you do this to in succession, on the same bike? How long would you give them? Or should the bikes and teams themselves be chucked out for not being able to compete with Yamonda?

To go on with the obvious, in reality a motogp race is several concurrent races. Redding isn't racing against Rossi, he's racing a variety of other mid-pack riders, principally Hayden. Crutchlow isn't racing Lorenzo, he's competing against Dovi. And so on. Riders should only really be compared to the segment they're racing in. In that context, if you think Redding should go you should also be calling for the dismissal of Lorenzo, Pedrosa & Rossi, because (for illustrative purposes only, mind) none of these three have been able to hold a candle to Marquez for the past year so they must be pretty rubbish too.

The other point I'd make is that almost all of these mid-pack riders were likely lads a few seasons back, and I can only think of 4 or 5 from the 30 or 40 'promotions' of the last 10 years who have gone on to really great things. So of the 5 or 6 coming up now in Moto3 and Moto2, chances are there's only one at most who might set the world alight, and all the remainder will do neither better nor worse than those they replace.

These guys take a lot of pain and hardship to get to MotoGP. Let them enjoy the rewards while they can.

Amen brother Lilyvani!

Well said. Gauging what is about to happen and what will follow that is possible for a given rider on your team's bike is a tricky difficult tea-leaf-reading divination. Timing is important (is a Moto3 rider REALLY best skipping Moto2 and tossed on a MotoGP bike in any case? And relative to an experienced rider who has had time on the tires and 'big bikes' which is the better bet for my team NOW to start this season, and help our team for the future?). Also, the bike is being developed and the team needs a rider that can help them do that...set up of the bike is critical.

You took the words out of my mouth w your post, perfectly stated.

I sometimes think when I read the hysterical comments here that there should only be 4 riders that deserve to be on the grid, oh no hang on maybe only one because he's the only one that wins!

All right maybe the satellites too, but only if they're always getting podiums to justify it, otherwise they get the sack immediately. Hang on again, only 3 podium places to go round...

Lilyvani is right, we need a full grid with contests going on everywhere. Anyone who's actually been to a race knows that a whole lot of the entertainment is watching those contests further down; i.e. the ones that don't get shown on TV. They are brilliant battles and often better than those broadcast, and the riders certainly deserve their place in MotoGP. In general terms most of the grid are the best riders in the world for that particular year. I've seen riders scrap like hell to get a 20th and not a 21st.

Respect to them all.

let's not sack everybody just yet - although some promotions to GP do confuse me - but I'd still prefer Hayden on a good SBK bike than on a bad GP one

Gracefully done Etienne. I too would like to see Nicky ending the weekend with an ear to ear grin, I always felt he got well and truly shafted by Honda. I'm no longer sure WSBK is the place to go to though, it's becoming a real backwater.

There are only four bikes worth having right now, and only four riders capable of wringing the most out of them day in and day out, race weekend after race weekend. The rest of the cast might have occasional moments in the sun, but we're in a rather special moment here, vis a vis the support classes' level of talent.

I get the role of the bike in a rider's success or lack thereof (here's hoping there are at least double the number of competitive bikes next year and even more the year after that), and I completely understand the race-within-a-race concept.

It's just that, rather than seeing the same names in the same positions next year and the year after that and the year after that, I'd prefer seeing if some new names might upset the apple cart. And this might be the best chance we've had in a long time for that to happen. I know, I know, no stars for me.

All views are valid in my book and it would be boring as hell if we all just agreed with each other. The same names, same positions thing is something particular to now in my view. If you look back over a long time period in more or less any series (or major sport for that matter) the 'norm' is that of gradual change. The top names are at the top for a fair few years but every one or two years someone emerges who starts nipping at their heels, and one of the 'names' begins to show signs of fading. In due course the veteran retires or drops away, the nipper becomes one of the names, someone else becomes the nipper, and so the cycle continues. The current situation is different to that. Ordinarily, Rossi should have faded away completely by now, but the stubborn old goat decided to get faster rather than slower. With two other 'names' (Lorenzo & Pedrosa) still at or around the peak of their performance curve, and a nipper turned name in Marquez, that blocks a natural promotion to one of the factory seats.

I don't think it will stay this way for too long, largely because of Marquez. By breaking the normal pattern and going straight to the top, he re-positions Lorenzo and Pedrosa in the cycle. I think the next couple of years sees them riding for their seats, whether they like it or not, and at least one of them will start going downwards. Both will be up around the 10 year mark on factory bikes by then and that's a long time on a top ride.

I no longer have a clue where Rossi sits in all this. He's defying all the normal rules just as much as Marquez, and I won't be in the least surprised to be watching a grizzled old geezer in parc ferme in 10 years time telling us that he's 'very 'appy, is good for my championship' as he picks up another bit of bling.

But realistically, I think the only one of the current top 4 that will still be there by 2017 will be Marquez. The current anomoly just means that, unfortunately for them, one or two potential stars won't get their moment in the sun.

However, I would say this. A few years ago, when Rossi was at his absolute peak, I became conscious that I was seeing something truly special. So right now anyone new-ish to the sport is getting a double-helping. They're occasionally getting to see Rossi showing what won him all those titles (racecraft) and at the same time seeing the beginnings of what I'm sure we'll come to call 'the Marquez era'.

Crutchlow was saying he was going to Ducati and then they gave him the boot to sign up with Dovi. Seems like the roles are now reversed... Ducati saying they'll continue with Crutchlow and a little while after CC's giving Ducati the boot :D
Well, at least he won't be able to say he's never known what it is to work in a factory team (although I think he still doesn't know what it truly is!).

I know there are a lot of Alvaro fans here, but I'd still love to see his place taken by upcoming talent, whether it's from Moto3, Moto2 or somewhere else. I think there's a lot more potential in that bike and he doesn't seem very consistent throughout the season either.
Same thing with Bradl... he's been WC in Moto2, but after his entry in MotoGP, I've been anything but impressed. The show would be a lot better if there was a higher flow of people entering and leaving the highest class. Teams seem to like being stuck with a slower rider "with experience" opposed to new experienceless talent. And it's not because a person gels with a Moto3 or Moto2 bike, that they're automatically set for success in MotoGP. Look at Aoyama, Bradl, Elias, they're all 250/Moto2 world champions who haven't impressed on the heavy machinery. Yet teams have held on to them for long times while other emerging talents have it so hard to get a foot in the door.

People like Iannone and Redding, who are impressing with their performances are being held back with stupid contracts and other restrictions.... It could all be so much more fun and exhilarating if everyone was on a 1 year contract and had to fight to stay in MotoGP every single year. Races would be much more fun to watch and there would be much better battles.

I hate the Suzuki rumor. His career is on such an incredible high right now, why throw it away by going to a factory with a known track record of underachieving? I wouldn't be surprised if the forward bikes are more competitive than the Suzukis next year. And who cares if you're a factory rider if the factory isn't going to invest everything. I swear he'd be better sticking around and trying again next year

... next year Forward won't be getting the Yamaha chassis that Aleix is running this year. He's pretty much running a Tech 3 bike now, but with open class electronics.
Next year they'll be forced to use the FTR chassis as Yamaha won't provide theirs.
So he'd get a worse bike than now, and no more money.
If he goes to Suzuki he'll get a factory bike(with at least hope of a better bike than at Forward) and factory money. Easy choice if you ask me.

someone will be suggesting that if you put Marquez on the PBM it will be on the podium.

Given that 'old' riders probably expect or bring a buck or two, why on earth would a team choose a slower rider if they think someone with no experience would do better? Randy's grid 'team' may have had an influence, but usually you would say go for the guy who can ride and you think you can work with.

The current penchant for unproven (recognising we are at best in the world level here) riders may get shown to be a case of the exception proving the rule with MM. The top 4 is effectively a lock-out. Being top 10 is some achievement. You can argue about the bottom 10 and whether they should be a few places higher, but my guess (which is all it is) is that team resources and the bike have a lot more to do with position than the rider.
Sure, those guys are perceived to only be amongst the top 30 riders in the world (I wish) but the extreme rankings/comments here belie the fact that none of them can objectively be said to be giving less than 95% even with broken limbs. Yes, we expect 100%, and by all means critique their riding or consistency, but to say things like Redding doesn't deserve a ride next year is to ignore the facts of his performances.

The bike/team combination plays a huge part in any rider's success, or lack thereof. But to say that Marquez is the exception that proves the rule isn't quite accurate. There's Marquez. Before him was Stoner. Before him was Rossi. (Lorenzo and Pedrosa fit in there somehow, but a bit below those three.) And there you have your dominant riders so far this millenium. All the rest are, to whatever degree, just chasing. But the fact that great riders only come along once in a blue moon is by no means proof that one shouldn't keep looking for them.

Why keep the same old people chasing year after year? Watch any of this year's Moto3 races and tell me there aren't ten riders who deserve a chance to move up at least to Moto2. Then watch any Moto2 race and tell me there aren't at least six who deserve a shot on a big bike.

It's not that the old MotoGP backmarkers aren't worthy, it's that there suddenly seems to be a banner crop of young contenders. Everybody was complaining about Marc Marquez getting his Repsol ride right off the bat; now everyone thinks he has a fair shot at winning every race this year. Had Repsol listened to the naysayers, we'd not have witnessed his genius.

Sometimes ya just gotta throw the noodles at the wall and see if they're ready to stick.

Can't believe someone calling for Redding to be culled - he's had half a season on the Honda proddy racer and is beating far more experienced MotoGP riders in the points.

IIRC Barbera brings sponsorship cash, which ensures his presence year after year. Bautista, who can't stop crashing, apparently rides for next to nothing salary wise and has to do the development for the Nissin/Showa combination.

I'm not convinced about anyone coming up from Moto2 though. A lot of the guys who are at the front this year, Maverick excepted, are those who were mid pack when Marquez, Iannone, Pol Espagaro and Redding were in the class. Or Mika Kallio, Simone Corsi and Alex DeAngelis who have been around since Noah was a boy.

However, I don't see Jack Miller shaking things up, sorry. I think a season of him head-to-head against Marc Marquez would end only one way and that would really harm his confidence, which appears a fragile beast for many a rider.

Redding and Iannonne both deserve the move ups they are getting. Those two I feel are emerging talent. Redding I would like to see on a bike with decent power, so he can show his true level of talent and not go around speaking about his weight holding him back, (because weight did not hold Simoncelli back). I think he could be up for winning some races. Championship...skeptical, wins I think he has the potential to get.

Iannone, the man has had stretches of pure brilliance in Moto2, and now has been doing quite well on a bike that is the worst of the factory , (not factory team, just factory made), bikes. With tires that really are not meant to last a whole race with the power output of the Ducati. But he has been making it work. A lot of top 10s, (good amount of 6th places), even with a rear tire that is going off more than many of the people he is racing. With the right bike he could definitely be in for some wins himself, (because at this point. Just seeing someone else win next year will give me hope.)

That's why I said 'may'. By all means keep looking, but we cannot have every 'promising' rider being put on one of the top bikes, because it will probably 'do their head in'.(Stuart put it better). Also, as you said, we don't have enough of them.
I agree with most of your 'dead wood' selection though - why Melandri should be brought back I don't know. He's had a good crack and presumably has made good money in his time. I would prefer to see Laverty's E or M on one of them and I'm sure Smith's manager has been making enquiries, along with lots of others.
I am not convinced by Miller either, but there are better form diviners in the paddock than I.

I honestly feel that the changes for 2016 will give Vale a chance at that 10th championship. I'd love to see (and it wouldn't totally surprise me) if Dorna pressured the 2016 changes (except for the tires) to be adopted early for 2015. Perhaps some incentive for Factories like fuel or more tire allotment (instead of having to conserve sets through practice)? I would strongly be looking at running 2016 rules if I were Yamaha in 2015.

As it sits, it's amazing to see Marc blitz the pack every race but it's hardly an exciting outcome. Motorsports viewership is dwindling across the board, and everyone in the marketing department at Dorna know they need competition to thrive if they can sustain a superfluous thing such as GP motorcycle racing.

As much as it pains me to say being a big Suzuki fan, I think Maverick Vinales has made a mistake signing for Suzuki. He probably needs another year in Moto2 and I honestly feel that he is one of the few guys coming through (Salom, Folger,Fenati, Rins, Miller and A. Marquez being the others) who could possibly end M. Marquez's dominance.

On another note I am really happy that A. Esparago has signed with Suzuki

As much as I'm not really a Suzuki fan I'm a big vinales fan I kinda like the idea. Signing with Suzuki ultimately worked out pretty well for Bautista. For all intents and purposes Bautista could be Hectar Barbera right now. Suzuki cut down to one bike but counted on Bautista, Barbera went backwards. Bautista went onto a better (equal?) ride. Barbera... well. I could see the exact same thing for Vinales and making a name for himself on a new bike as a rookie. And he'll have that excuse his first year.
That's why I don't like it for Espargaro. If he fails or gets mediocre results with Vinales close behind it's over, he'll never get REAL factory ride and that sucks. But as someone said earlier it IS his best shot

I am fellow Queenslander but I think JM is getting a little ahead of himself stepping straight up to MotoGP. There a big difference between a Moto3 bike and a MotoGP bike.

The reason why I think Jack Miller might not want to race for Marc VDS next is because of Honda and their sponsor Red Bull. Marc VDS are sponsored by Monster who sponsors Yamaha. I think Honda want to put him on layby and know that might not be possible if he is racing with MVDS

I think the same. It's what's called "promote-to-fail".

Promote a talented person beyond their experience and current skillset, let them struggle, then fire them when they can't keep up.

Normally it's what a company can do to someone they want to get rid of...