2016 Silly Season Update - What We Know After Misano

With the flyaways fast approaching, MotoGP's silly season for 2016 is reaching its climax. All of the factory seats are taken – including the seat at Aprilia vacated by Marco Melandri – and the top satellite rides are filled as well, either officially or unofficially. A few pieces of the puzzle remain, but fitting those together is more or less complex, depending on the team and the rider involved. Here's a look at where we stand so far.

The five factory teams will remain unchanged for 2016. Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi will stay with Movistar Yamaha, Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa at Repsol Honda, Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales at Suzuki ECSTAR, and Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl will continue at Gresini Aprilia. Though Bradl is yet to be confirmed, off the record comments from the team make it clear that the German is to stay with Aprilia for 2016, and possibly beyond. Sam Lowes has signed a three-year deal with Aprilia for 2016 onwards, but Lowes will first take his seat in the Gresini squad's Moto2 team in 2016, seizing the chance on the Kalex Moto2 machine to take a shot at the championship.

The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha and LCR Honda teams have also been confirmed for 2016, with Pol Espargaro, Bradley Smith, and Cal Crutchlow all staying put. It looks extremely likely that LCR will be back to a one-man team in 2016, after the misadventure with CWM, whose owner is under investigation on a number of charges, virtually ruling out any chance of further sponsorship for next year. LCR will return to its extremely successful formula of race-by-race sponsorship, which has worked for Lucio Cecchinello since he first started using it in 2006.

LCR's reduction to a one-rider team leaves the place of Jack Miller up in the air. The Australian is in the first year of a three-year deal directly with Honda, so it is up to HRC to find a place to house him. At first, it had seemed certain that he would head to the cash-strapped Aspar squad, but it is looking increasingly likely that Aspar will be abandoning Honda in favor of a cheaper Ducati option.

As a result, Miller is caught between LCR and the Marc VDS squad. Putting Miller in at Marc VDS makes a lot of sense, as the team already has the infrastructure to support a single bike. Miller would be parachuted in as a second rider, complete with crew chief Cristian Gabarrini and the rest of his pit crew. Having Miller would also help solve the ongoing legal dispute between the Australian and the Belgian team, who had originally signed him to race in Moto2 for them.

The issue, as always, is money. The team is said to be willing to pay something towards the cost of Miller, but are unwilling to bear the full cost of having a second rider. Negotiations are still underway, with the issue likely to be settled at Aragon. If Miller cannot be placed with Marc VDS, then HRC would have no option but to bear the full cost of running the Australian in the LCR Honda squad.

Miller is also getting extra support from Honda, in the shape of Dani Pedrosa's former mentor Alberto Puig. HRC are said to be disenchanted by the level of commitment the Australian is showing, and have asked Puig to help focus Miller's mind. Puig will be working on improving the Australian's fitness, as well as providing coaching and guidance at races.

Miller's teammate at Marc VDS looks almost certain to be Tito Rabat. Team manager Michael Bartholémy has made no secret of his desire to have Rabat racing for him in MotoGP, and with the departure of Scott Redding to Pramac Ducati, Rabat is the obvious choice. Some details need still to be settled, but an announcement should come sometime after Aragon, along with the announcement of Rabat's replacement in Moto2. That seems almost certain to be the Italian youngster Franco Morbidelli.

The most interesting question in the Marc VDS MotoGP garage is who is to be Rabat's crew chief. Redding's current crew chief Chris Pike has been offered a job running Honda's World Endurance effort, a job too good to turn down for a role as crew chief in MotoGP. Rabat is currently working with Nicky Hayden's former crew chief Pete Benson, but Benson has shown no inclination whatsoever to return to MotoGP. There are no obvious candidates to take charge of Rabat's side of the garage, but that question will surely be settled soon.

Other rides which seemed already settled turn out to be no such thing. It was widely assumed that Yonny Hernandez would take the second Avintia seat alongside Hector Barbera aboard the Ducati Desmosedici GP14.2s the team will have next year. Now, it seems, Frenchman Loris Baz could be in the frame for that seat. After a modest start, Loris Baz has got up to speed very quickly in the second half of the season, finishing as top Open bike on a number of occasions, finishing in an incredible fourth at Misano in treacherous conditions, and currently leading the Open classification.

At the moment, the future of Aspar is entirely unclear. Up until a few weeks ago, it seemed obvious that the team would continue with Hondas, and hope to attract a rider who could bring in enough money to keep the team going. Eugene Laverty was concerned about his seat, with rumors of Aspar talking to several riders to replace the Irishman, despite the fact that Laverty has a cast iron contract with Aspar for 2016. Plans changed some time between Silverstone and Misano, however, with Aspar now rumored to be looking at Ducati to supply bikes, most likely, Desmosedici GP14.2s. That would suit Laverty, as he is held in very high regard by Gigi Dall'Igna, with whom he retains a very good relationship. With Baz going to Avintia, Yonny Hernandez could move to the Aspar squad to take the second seat.

It had looked like there could be an influx of British riders from Moto2 and Moto3 into MotoGP for 2016, but that now looks like it is on hold. As said, Lowes will stay in Moto2 for another year, but will ride a Kalex in the Gresini squad. And Moto3 championship leader Danny Kent will move to Moto2 with the Leopard Racing squad. Moto2 championship leader Johann Zarco declared some time ago that he was not yet ready for MotoGP, and will stay with his current team to defend the title he looks set to win.

What of Forward Racing? At Misano, team owner Giovanni Cuzari – now released from prison, with at least some of the charges against him dropped – was moderately confident of being back in MotoGP in 2016. It was in the hands of Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta, Cuzari said, and with some of the charges dropped, Cuzari believed Ezpeleta would be more inclined to grant him his two grid slots for 2016. That still leaves him without either bikes or riders, but Cuzari dismissed those concerns as trivial. "I can have Ducatis or Aprilias," he told us.

Below the 2016 rider line up as it stands at the moment:

Team Rider Bike Duration
Repsol Honda
  Marc Marquez Honda RC213V 2016
  Dani Pedrosa Honda RC213V 2016
Movistar Yamaha
  Valentino Rossi Yamaha YZR-M1 2016
  Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha YZR-M1 2016
Factory Ducati
  Andrea Dovizioso Ducati GP15 2016
  Andrea Iannone Ducati GP15 2015
LCR Honda
  Cal Crutchlow Honda RC213V 2017
Marc VDS Racing
  Tito Rabat Honda RC213V ???
  Jack Miller? Honda RC213V 2017
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha
  Pol Espargaro Yamaha YZR-M1 2016
  Bradley Smith Yamaha YZR-M1 2016
  ??? Ducati?  
  Eugene Laverty Ducati? 2016
Gresini Aprilia
  Alvaro Bautista Aprilia RS-GP 2016
  Stefan Bradl Aprilia RS-GP 2018
  Aleix Espargaro Suzuki GSX-RR 2016
  Maverick Viñales Suzuki GSX-RR 2017
Pramac Ducati
  Scott Redding Ducati GP15 2015
  Danilo Petrucci Ducati GP15 2016
Avintia Ducati
  Hector Barbera Ducati GP14.2 2015
  Loris Baz? Ducati GP14.2  
Forward Racing?


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What bike would Miller be on, still a production Honda or a full blown RC213V?

Would Honda produce only 1 production bike for Miller?

According to Jack's manager Aki Ajo he has a cast iron contract for a factory RCV213V of the same spec as the Repsol bikes next year.

(mentioned in SpeedWeek several times recently)

If Miller and Teams play their cards right, they can force honda to pay the way. Which would not hurt my feelings one bit. Personally I don't think Miller made the right choice, this probably ended his career before it got started in the GP class.

With Miller is there any indication of when he would be on a RCV213V as part of that three year deal?

Im pretty skeptical that Ducati would supply another two teams for next year (Aspar and Forward)

Did I once read here or somwhere that Pedrosa is going to move to a smaller bike?

Perhaps this is not politic to be on this site but I wanted to point out something important, notably to UK MotoGP fans.

I recently received my renewal for my MotoGP videopass and Dorna are asking DOUBLE the price for this season: from €99 to €199. In part this is due to removal of the standard videopass and compulsory purchase of of the multiscreen pass but however you cut it, doubling the cost is despicable.

Recent treatment of UK fans has been poor of course but at least with the option of the Videopass, those of us committed to the sport could continue to view. The doubling of the price now pushes this beyond my finances and as an avid viewer since before MotoGP existed I think this is poor treatment.

I note a few years ago Dorna said how important it was to support the teams that stuck with the sport through the lean times. Why not the fans too? I can afford €100 but not €200.

To be honest I think BT is a better deal. After ranting and raging for months last year and theatrical promises of kissing goodbye to MotoGP I not only took out a videopass but went to superfast BT broadband + BT sports + HD tv. If I'd been less emotive and more rational I could have saved myself £100 or more by skipping the videopass.

I guess videopass is worth it if you want all the extras that come with it, but quality-wise it can't (in my opinion) compete with proper HD on the TV. Plus with the tv option you get full WSK and BSB (with support races) as well. So while I still bitterly resent the fees being charged, I'm at least happy with the product.

Really? BSB and WSBK as well by having BT Sports? Or do you mean you pay for some extra package on top?

BT may get more appealing if they can become THE home for motorcycle racing - at least BSB, WSBK and MotoGP, preferably EWC, MotoAmerica and All Japan.

Still currently, I would have to almost double my monthly fee to get BT instead of Plusnet (£22.50 to £39.50).

All I wanted was to renew my MotoGP Videopass subscription at around the same price as this season. Shame. 2016 will be financially beyond me and MotoGP will lose a viewer they've had since it's inception.

I'm really surprised to read that Honda are disappointed with Miller's fitness and commitment. Firstly because I would imagine that Honda would be monitoring his progress from day one of his contract and I could not imagine that he would come this far into it before they did something about it.
Secondly, I was not all that long ago the Miller nearly didn't have a moto3 ride before Ajo picked him up so things have not come easy to him.
To think that he lacks commitment at this point is almost unbelievable from the outside looking in. I most certainly hope that this is not the case. He is the first man to be picked up directly from moto3 and how many rookie do you know run straight into a 3 year contract???