Yamaha Announce Pol Espargaro to Leave at End of 2016 - Off to KTM?

The first official announcement of the Barcelona weekend has been made. Yamaha issued a press release today announcing that Pol Espargaro will not be riding for Yamaha in 2017. The Spaniard had a contract directly with Yamaha, but rode in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team. He had three offers to continue - a one-year deal from Yamaha to continue at Tech 3, and multi-year deals from KTM and Avintia Ducati - and is due to announce his future soon. It is widely believed he will join Bradley Smith at KTM. 

Espargaro's departure leaves a seat open at Tech 3. While Yamaha has been pursuing Alex Rins for the seat, Rins is keen on joining a factory team, and looks bound for Suzuki. If Rins does not fill the seat, then the Frenchman Johann Zarco could join fellow rookie from Moto2 Jonas Folger in the team.

Below is the press release from Yamaha announcing the departure of Espargaro:


Barcelona (Spain), 2nd June 2016

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. announce that Yamaha and Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team-rider Pol Espargaró will go their separate ways at the close of the 2016 MotoGP season, when the Spaniard will start new racing challenges.

Espargaró joined the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team in 2014, following his championship victory in the Moto2 class the year before. The currently 24-year old adapted to the YZR-M1 quickly, as was displayed when he qualified second for the fifth race in Le Mans and claimed the accolade of ’rookie of the year‘ as well as ’top satellite MotoGP rider‘ with a sixth place overall finish.

Espargarò followed up this successful year by taking ninth place in the final rankings in the 2015 season, with the highlight of finishing as the highest satellite team rider in Assen and Valencia with two fifth places.

In addition to the MotoGP program, Espargarò also secured the win for Yamaha at the 2015 Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race where he teamed up with Tech3 teammate Bradley Smith and Katsuyuki Nakasuga.

Espargarò will team up once again this year with Katsuyuki Nakasuga and new rider Alex Lowes in an attempt to secure back-to-back wins for the Yamaha Factory Team.

So far this season Espargaró holds seventh place with 48 points in the 2016 MotoGP World Championship standings and has been the leading independent team rider since the start of the 2016 campaign, finishing three times as the best independent rider in Losail, Jerez, and Le Mans.

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. look back with great appreciation on Espargaró's contributions to its racing successes over the past two and a half years and wish Espargaró the very best in furthering his racing career.

Yamaha and the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team will continue to put their full efforts into finishing the 2016 season with Espargaró in the best possible manner and hope to share many more memorable moments during the upcoming twelve MotoGP rounds of the 2016 World Championship.

The 2017 Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team replacement for Pol Espargaró will be announced in due course.


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Well they did say they were looking for a fast Moto2 rider to fill the second seat.

Who gets the factory Yamaha contract ride at Tech3? Will it be Rins or Rins?

Well they did say they were looking for a fast Moto2 rider to fill the second seat.

Who gets the factory Yamaha contract ride at Tech3? Will it be Rins or Rins?

Just a dodgy old git with a wobbly old hand behind an even older and dodgier (?) HP laptop. Sorry.

I guess Maverick has usurped Pol's role as Yamaha's rising star. Might as well try his luck elsewhere. I recall reading that he didn't like the Yamaha for the first year or two. He wanted to ride with a "looser" style. I remember that Yamaha granted dispensation for him to experiment with more sliding although the bike had been developed for Jorge's style. Maybe this move will be good for Pol.

It's interesting to me that despite Moto2's reputation as poor preparation for MotoGP, Tech3 may pull up a complete team directly from same. If I understand right, Zarco flourishes when he has complete backing and support from his team, and Tech3's long-standing interest in Folger also implies that Folger, too, will be well cared-for. I imagine Tech3 will be an intense and very tightly focused place next season.

Speaking of Moto2, I would like to read an article on what the teams and riders think Moto2 SHOULD do to become a better path to MotoGP. Do the bikes need more engine? Different electronics? Tires? I wonder what the people on the sharp end would like to see.

Personally I dream of Kawasaki making a supercharged 750 triple engine which could then be ported over to Grand Prix, but that's just my madness. :D

I think, as simple as it sounds, it all comes down to the control engine.  I think the moto2 bikes may be just too easy to ride - which is why they ride them so loosely.  This was not a problem when the intermediate class was 250 two strokes.  I recall when Lorenzo came up to GP he took the first 2 (3?) pole positions.  He said that the GP bikes were so easy to ride (he then went on to find out what happens when you override them).  Contrast that to the riders who have come up from moto2; Elias, Bradl, Smith, Iannone, Marc, Pol, Rabat, Maverick.  Marc has managed to to override the bike and make it work.  Maverick has changed his style quickly to be successful.  Iannone fluctuates between overriding and crashing, and being riding smoothly and getting consistent results.  All the rest have struggled and had to learn slowly.

I think you're right about the bikes being easier to ride than a 250. I just wanted to mention that Elias actually came up through 125 and then 250 two strokes, then Motogp , then later Moto2. He won the inagaural Moto2 world title, came back to MotoGP, didn't do very well ,then oscillated between  Moto2 and sattelite MotoGP teams.