Miller Moves To Marc VDS - 2016 MotoGP Grid Now Nearly Complete

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, in the press conference at Phillip Island, Jack Miller announced that he would be riding for the Marc VDS Estrella Galicia 0,0 team in 2016. It had long been known that Miller would end up at the team, but there was still the question of a few loose ends to tie up. With those tidied up, Miller's home GP was the obvious place to announce his future plans.

The Australian will move to Marc VDS along with his crew chief, Cristian Gabarrini, and the rest of his pit crew. As Miller is contracted to and paid for by HRC, it was a simple matter for them to move the mechanics and engineers from LCR to Marc VDS. Miller will have a standard satellite Honda RC213V next year, the same spec as that of his current teammate, Cal Crutchlow, and new teammate Tito Rabat. 

There were one or two obstacles to Miller's move to Marc VDS, not least the broken pre-contract the Australian signed with the team to race in Moto2. Miller was supposed to join Marc VDS in 2014, but Aki Ajo - also Miller's personal manager - persuaded him to stay in Moto3 with the Red Bull KTM team. The legal dispute over that contract is still ongoing, but will be much easier to put to an end now that Miller is with Marc VDS. 

The other obstacle to Miller's move was financial. Though Miller rides for HRC, Honda still wanted the team who took him to cover at least some of the costs. That was a problem for Marc VDS, as they had taken a financial hit moving up to MotoGP in 2015 with Scott Redding. As a new team in MotoGP, they were not eligible for financial support with transport costs or free tires. That imposed an extra financial burden - believed to be around €1.6 million a year - on the team. If Miller was to join Marc VDS, then they needed to be sure that both grid slots would be eligible for financial support, and they had to be sure that they could afford to pay Honda's asking price. After a period of negotiation, agreement has been reached on these issues.

With Miller confirmed alongside Tito Rabat, the 2016 MotoGP grid is nearing completion. The Repsol Honda, Movistar Yamaha, Ducati Factory, Gresini Aprilia and Suzuki ECSTAR teams all remain unchanged, as does the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha line up. Cal Crutchlow remains as the single rider at LCR, Lucio Cecchinello's dreams shattered by the legal problems of a former sponsor. Scott Redding replaces Yonny Hernandez at Pramac Ducati, the Colombian moving to Aspar, where he will line up alongside Eugene Laverty. If, that is, Aspar has the funds to run a second bike. With the Avintia Ducatis of Loris Baz and Hector Barbera, there will be a total of eight Ducatis on the grid next year.

The grid is likely to be a good deal smaller than in 2015. So far, it looks like there will be 21 riders instead of 25, with three teams likely to withdraw. Forward Racing have already been told they do not have grid slots in MotoGP, so they will continue in Moto2, and, if the reports are correct, race MV Agustas in World Superbikes. AB Racing also looks likely to make the switch to WSBK, though Karel Abraham is trying to remain in MotoGP. The Ioda Racing team is trying to hang on for one more year on a minimum budget, waiting for 2017 when the funding for teams increases radically. That looks like a tough task, however. 

Below is the 2016 grid as it stands at the moment, complete with the length of the contract for each rider. Underneath that is the press release from Marc VDS.

Team Rider Bike Contract Duration
Repsol Honda    
93 Marc Marquez Honda RC213V 2016
26 Dani Pedrosa Honda RC213V 2016
Movistar Yamaha    
46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha YZR-M1 2016
99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha YZR-M1 2016
Factory Ducati    
4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati GP16 2016
29 Andrea Iannone Ducati GP16 2016
Gresini Aprilia    
19 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia RS-GP 2016
6 Stefan Bradl Aprilia RS-GP 2018
Suzuki ECSTAR    
41 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki GSX-RR 2016
25 Maverick Viñales Suzuki GSX-RR 2017
LCR Honda    
35 Cal Crutchlow Honda RC213V 2017
Marc VDS Racing    
53 Tito Rabat Honda RC213V 2017
43 Jack Miller Honda RC213V 2017
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha    
44 Pol Espargaro Yamaha YZR-M1 2016
38 Bradley Smith Yamaha YZR-M1 2016
68 Yonny Hernandez Ducati GP14.2 2016
50 Eugene Laverty Ducati GP14.2 2016
Pramac Ducati    
45 Scott Redding Ducati GP15+ 2017
9 Danilo Petrucci Ducati GP15+ 2016
Avintia Ducati    
8 Hector Barbera Ducati GP14.2 2016
76 Loris Baz Ducati GP14.2 2016

Below is the press release from Marc VDS announcing the deal with Miller:

Jack Miller joins the Marc VDS Racing Team for 2016

Phillip Island, Australia – 15 October 2015: Having reached an agreement with Honda Racing Corporation, the Marc VDS Racing Team can confirm that they will run two bikes in the MotoGP class in 2016.

Tito Rabat will step up from Moto2 to campaign a factory Honda RC213V in Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS colours, as previously announced. Riding alongside the former Moto2 World Champion will be 20-year-old Australian, Jack Miller, who will race in the traditional livery of the Marc VDS Racing Team.

Miller’s current crew, headed by experienced Chief Engineer Cristian Gabarrini, will join the Australian in the Marc VDS Racing Team for the 2016 season.

Like many Australians before him Miller, who hails from Townsville in North Queensland, started his racing career on dirt bikes. Having racked up six Australian titles on the dirt he then switched his attention to road racing, with similar success.

The success continued following a move to Europe, where Miller won the 2011 IDM 125cc Championship aged just 16 and was rewarded with a ride in the Moto3 World Championship the following season.

Miller joins the team for his second season in MotoGP, having jumped into the premier class in 2015 straight from Moto3, following a titanic season long battle that saw the Australian lose out on the World Championship title by just two points to eventual winner, Álex Márquez.

Jack Miller:

“I am very enthusiastic on this possibility with Honda and the Marc VDS Racing Team. I know Marc VDS is a good, strong and experienced team, and they can build a good structure for me to fight for good positions next year. As we both have already one year of experience from the top class, I feel that we can gain from the experiences we have to achieve good results together with Honda.”

Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal

“It’s good to be able to finally welcome Jack to the Marc VDS Racing Team. We wanted Jack in 2013 because we could see he had the talent to succeed and that hasn’t changed. This was always going to be a difficult transition season for him, having jumped straight onto the MotoGP bike from Moto3, but he’s done a solid job so far. Next year Jack will benefit from having the Marc VDS Racing Team behind him and, together with a competitive bike, I’m confident that this is exactly what he needs to realise his full potential.”

Marc van der Straten: President, Marc VDS Racing Team

“We are happy to welcome Jack to the Marc VDS family, even if he is 12 months late arriving! He comes to the team with a year of experience in MotoGP and I expect to see him well inside the top ten on a regular basis next season. For the team it is good to have two riders in the premier MotoGP class; they can learn from each other but, equally importantly, they can push each other every weekend. Both Jack and Tito are ultra-competitive and I expect we’ll see some exciting battles between the two of them next season!”

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And by 2017 Alex Rins, Alex Marquez, Johann Zarco, and others might be crowding their way in, too.

Good luck to Miller, I'm not a fan and think he should of went to Moto2 first but he was impressive for the lap and a half he lasted at Silverstone and has started to have some moments that show he could do well.

If Rossi wins this year and beats Lorenzo next year and doesn't retire I could see Jorge going to Ducati or Honda (Suzuki by then too?) for an unprecedented amount of money.

I know MotoGP has an unspoken two year contract for most rides but does anyone think we'll ever see an Alonso/Ferrari type contract for Marquez and Honda? I'm talking five years for sixty million or something.

But with him and all the other riders, I think the switch to Michelin will make a bigger difference than anything next year, a HUGE difference! Last time Michelin took part in MotoGP, Birdgestone were FAR superior towards the end (2007/2008?).

Are Michelin starting from scratch or are they privy to any Bridgestone data? Sorry if this is a naive question... just curious.

Michelin are doing it all on their own. Quite understandably, Bridgestone are unwilling to share their data. It would give away too many of their secrets. This is the reason that Michelin are spending so much time testing this year, especially with test riders.

Also makes the change even more dramatic. It could make managing tyres easier or harder or be as extreme as completely changing the riding style of MotoGP.

I don't suspect it will disrupt who is at the front too much though, maybe some surprises for the first few races.

I remember it being said these bikes could be sold by the teams after they reached the end of the second year. Who will be buying them, there's not actually another series in the world they are eligible to race in is there?

So Rabat and Miller will both have satellite spec VDS Hondas. And presumably Crutchlow will also have one at LCR. Didn't Dorna bring in (an insanely stupid) rule that there could be a maximum of 4 'factory/satellite' bikes per manufacturer?
I'm really not sure about Miller, but it's hard to gauge his performance when you're never quite sure how the machinery stacks up. It seems that some satellite bikes are definitely better than others, I wonder if the open bikes are similarly stacked? Jack has (perhaps not unsurprisingly) crashed a lot this year, but shown flashes of promise shortly before binning it. I hope he stays on the bike for the whole race, if he can start to do that on a regular basis the results will come.