Viñales Confirmed at Yamaha, Iannone Confirmed with Suzuki for 2017 & 2018

The next two pieces of the MotoGP puzzle for the coming seasons have fallen into place. This morning, Yamaha announced that Maverick Viñales would be joining them for two years from Suzuki, and Suzuki announced that Andrea Iannone would be taking the place of Viñales. Both riders signed two year deals with their respective factories.

With the earlier announcements of Andrea Dovizioso at Ducati and Dani Pedrosa at Repsol Honda, the confirmed 2017 line up looks like this so far:

Movistar Yamaha
Valentino Rossi
Maverick Viñales

Ducati Factory
Jorge Lorenzo
Andrea Dovizioso

Repsol Honda
Dani Pedrosa

Andrea Iannone

Gresini Aprilia
Sam Lowes

Bradley Smith

Monster Tech 3 Yamaha
Jonas Folger

The press releases announcing the deal are below


Team Suzuki Press Office – May 19, 09:00hrs (CET)

Suzuki Motor Corporation announces that its collaboration with Maverick Viñales will come to an end after the 2016 MotoGP season.

All the Suzuki family is extremely grateful to Viñales for his contribution to the growth of the MotoGP™ project and the development of the GSX-RR, as well as for the great results they have achieved together.

Since the 2016 season is still under way, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR and Suzuki Motor Corporation will continue their unconditioned support to Maverick, looking forward to even better results in the remaining MotoGP races.

We wish all the best to Maverick Viñales for a bright and successful future.


Barberino del Mugello (Italy), 19th May 2016

It is with great pleasure that Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd announces the signing of Maverick Viñales to ride for the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team for 2017 and 2018.

Viñales, who is presently 5th in the MotoGP™ Championship standings, will partner 9-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, whose contract renewal was already announced in March this year.

Maverick Viñales, born in Figueres (Spain) on 12th January 1995, made his World Championship debut in 2011 in the 125cc Class. His racing career highlights include the victory of the Moto3™ World Championship in 2013 as well as 3 ’Rookie of the Year‘ awards in 2011 (125cc), 2014 (Moto2™) and 2015 (MotoGP™).


Team Suzuki Press Office – May 19, 09:30hrs (CET)

Suzuki Motor Corporation is pleased to announce the agreement with Andrea Iannone as a Factory rider of Team SUZUKI ECSTAR for 2017-2018.

The Italian will ride the Factory GSX-RR in the MotoGP™ World Championship for the upcoming two years following the 2016 season.

Iannone was born on August 9th, 1989 in Vasto, Southern Italy. He started racing in the Italian and Spanish Championships in 2004 when he was 15 years old. He moved to the 125 World Championship in 2005, winning four races, before he stepped-up to Moto2 in 2010; always finishing in the top-three places in the Championship and winning eight races. He moved to MotoGP™ in 2013, and in 2015 – his third season - secured fifth place overall, recording one Pole Position and three podiums.

Davide Brivio – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Team Manager:

“We are happy to have enrolled Andrea in our Team for the next two years. He is one of the top riders in MotoGP™ and he is also very passionate and motivated; which fits into our racing philosophy. Our technical project is continuously improving since our debut in 2015 and we are working hard to make our GSX-RR very competitive so that it can fight consistently close to top and victory as soon as possible. We wanted a rider that could help Suzuki continue its road to the top. Andrea is a fast rider who has the hunger for success and his riding style could suit our machine’s characteristics, therefore giving us good hopes for a positive partnership. Being in his fourth year in MotoGP™ he’s also an experienced rider from which the whole Team will benefit.”

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Would love to see Laverty on factory suzuki (or ktm/aprilia) he really needs to be on a factory bike forget the skeletons of motogp this guy has it.. look at wsbk 2012. EL50!

You are quite correct. I had forgotten about Lowes in my haste to get this online before the bus I was taking to the airport departed! Fixed now.

Well, I guess that as things were this was very predictable and pretty much only leaves the lesser teams to change riders and or confirm.

my guess would be the two Espargaro brothers stay on their present rides unless they fancy a 'you ride mine and I will ride yours ' scenario?

Marquez? Well it's either Honda or nowhere really isn't it as all the other rides are now gone, can't see him looking at the Suzuki really and even less so with Iannone as a team mate. I guess his bargaining power is though now diminished as in 'take it or leave it'. Perhaps not the smartest of money negotiations I would think.

Just my 2 cents.

Now let's get back to the racing - all to prove for at least the top three. All we can hope is that we get a close and exciting race and we don't get Lorenzo clearing off at the front for a boring race - as fantastic as an achievement that that is I prefer to be on the edge of my seat and emotionally involved rather than wondering 'what's for tea' during the 'race'.

Be good to see what Iannone performs like now he has a different ride for next year, it would be brilliant if Ducati got a win and another podium too.


I'm rooting for Suzuki but I guess I'm gonna have difficult time cheering for the team with Ianonne on-board, still hoping for Alex Rins to ride the GSX-RR

I thought that Sam Lowes has a contract with Aprilia for 2017?

Great news, Iannone to Suzuki! I think Suzuki got the best possible replacement at the moment. He might do very well, and it's going to be interesting to see if Iannone and Viñales will meet on the same piece of track next year.

I would have loved to see Iannone at Aprilia too, especially given the rivalry between them and Ducati. But I can understand that Iannone wants to be at the front immediately, and at this moment Suzuki sure is a safer bet. Now I wonder what will happen with Aleix Espargaro, since there's also some contract with Johann Zarco. Maybe Zarco in a satellite team, say LCR, together with Crutchlow..? That would be cool.

I wonder what will happen at Aprilia now that they know they won't have Iannone next year. I assume that means at least one of the two current riders will stay. Is Lowes sure of a seat in the actual factory team?

And what about KTM, who will fill the second seat next to Smith? Kallio? Or maybe KTM can re-hire Jack Miller...

He already dropped 'Crazy' once after 2014 and shaped right up into great form in 2015 changing to "Maniac." Perhaps he should change again to "Batsh*t Bezerk."

With all the changes of tires/electronics many riders are having an adjustment period. AI29's happens to be...protrucive. I believe he has had a bit of regression and will soon return to form.

Ducati chose well, Dovi develops well and is reliable. Great second rider. Suzuki has their first rider. Yamaha have escaped the clash of the titans and have their new 2nd rider that could be their next front runner. A.Espargaro has returned to form just in time for sillier season and likely to keep his seat.

Aprilia needs a hungry upstart dark horse that flogs the snot out of it.. Can that be Sam Lowes? Hope so, and like seeing riders coming from Superbikes. KTM have a solid established rider in Smith, and while easiest to put the fastest of Kallio or DePuniet in the 2nd seat I would rather see a younger rider there.

LCR/Suzuki/Crutchlow satellite please! And Suzuki, you may well want increase that spare parts budget for next season just to be sure.

Right -o
Intended "production bikes" - non GP bikes - it sounds weird though, and to myself there is a GP paddock and a Superbike paddock. Anyhoo...MUGELLO! Enjoy the weekend Florida.

I honestly don't know how Dani Pedrosa still has a job much less on a coveted factory Honda for another 2 years. Do Honda really still believe that he can deliver a title after 10 years and 3 teammates beating him to it?

I'm disappointed that such a great ride isn't going to a more exciting and deserving rider.

3 teammates named Stoner, Rossi and Marquez.....this is not much of an argument against DP, but if you are determined to make rash and unfounded statements, then you use what you have , I suppose..

The second (first actually) was Hayden, not Rossi - he'd long gone to Yamaha. And, much as I like Dani, he had a good 5 or 6 years as the No.1 at Honda. But for balance, he's had more than his share of bad luck.

I was talking about Hayden (2006), Stoner (2011) & Marquez (2013, 2014). Rossi and Pedrosa have never been teammates so I don't know why you'd guess that.

I'm not interested in trolling or getting into an argument about Dani Pedrosa's formidible talent I'm just surprised that year after year Honda re-sign him when his results have never really been up to the level of the other 'Aliens'. For almost half of his time on the factory Honda (4 out of 9 seasons) his teammate has won the title while he's delivered nothing.

I guess they see something in him that I don't or they have other motivations.

Dani Pedrosa's performance is massively underrated. The Spaniard has not won a title, but has come close to doing so twice, coming very close in 2012, when he arguably lost due to a minor error by a mechanic, who touched a tire warmer on the front brake, causing him to have to start from the back of the grid. 

Despite not having a title, Pedrosa has 28 wins, 38 second places and 35 third places. Pedrosa has more premier class victories than Kevin Schwantz, Wayne Rainey, Kenny Roberts, Geoff Duke, John Surtees, Freddie Spencer and Barry Sheene. He is a proven winner, on the bike which is the worst fit for him.

The real question is, though, if you don't want Pedrosa, who do you put on the bike instead? Who is faster than Pedrosa who is not already under contract (or already his teammate)? Any name you care to pick to replace Pedrosa would be a downgrade, or a very wild gamble. Maybe someone from Moto2 might be better in the long run, but there is nobody in Moto2 dominating the class, and proving they deserve a shot at the factory Honda seat.

OK fair enough, I've obviously touched a nerve by suggesting that Pedrosa may not deserve his factory Honda and when compared to riders from another era his record is impressive but he's not racing in the 20th century so I'm not sure the comparison holds up. I'm comparing him to the riders he actually faces on Sunday afternoon.
I understand that Dani Pedrosa is an extremely talented rider who deserves his 'Alien' status and has had some exceptionally bad luck but 10 years is enough. Re-signing DP is the kind of decision that's been made in a risk averse boardroom rather than anyone excited by the sport. Maybe it would be nice if sometimes Honda proved they have more money than sense.

I think you have it backwards.  DP is one of the best riders on the grid and yet he's missed out on the championship for 11 years, and now he's on a bike that doesn't suit him, that has been on a downward trajectory for a couple of years now, next to a rider who can ride the bike faster than him.

I think the real question is: why does Dani keep signing with Honda?  The Yamaha would have been a better bike for him, and both the Ducati and the Suzuki would arguably be better for him than the Honda at the moment.

Pedrosa is definitely a top talent but he has been on the Repsol team from day 1 in MotoGP and has not taken top honors.  He's never been on a satellite team and always had the best resources.  That does say something.  He has had to overcome the many disadvantages of his small size but that's not exactly something you can blame on somebody else (besides his parents).

All those riders you listed who have fewer victories had shorter times in the class with had many fewer races per year when the sport was much more dangerous so its hard to compare.  Especially when all of them have titles.  Maybe its a way of thinking that Dani has not gotten yet?  Repsol Honda revolved around Pedrosa in the 800cc era and he still did not deliver.  He is one of the few riders with many dry wins but his most dominant times, eg late 2012, were when his more dominant teammate or competitors were sidelined with injuries.  Being the 4th best rider in the world may not seem so bad to us but I'm sure he wants more.

You do have a point in that what other current rider would be faster (none) but in my opinion with Honda having a clear and proven title capable #1 rider for the next couple of years in MM, now is the time to take a risk and try to develop new talent.



You make a very valid point about taking a risk on a younger rider. But the number of talented youngsters is also limited. Beyond Rins - who would be a hard sell inside Repsol Honda, given his difficult history with Marquez' manager Emilio Alzamora - there are no Moto2 riders who look worthy of a shot in a factory Honda team. Better to wait, perhaps, until the current crop of exciting Moto3 youngsters make it through to Moto2, and start to show what they can do. Re-signing Pedrosa could just be a gamble to buy some time.

there are plenty of people who claim the HRC bike is/was the best on the grid, and that if they had Dani's ride they'd be able to win on it.

None of them have come anywhere close except for Marc, and Marc has been a total freak since his days in 125.

Even in his rookie season, Dani won by the fourth race on the RC211V which was definitely NOT built for him, against his much more experienced and less winning (at the time) team-mate (Nicky), who went on to win the title via consistency and a certain Valentino Rossi having one of the worst seasons of his career on a very unruly, chattering Yamaha.

Of course you need to be there to take the points in front of everyone else (in Hayden's case), but Dani's win record is despite his size, despite many problems with HRC (i believe the head of HRC racing said that in 2009 that it was NOT Dani's fault, that they failed him) and despite many injuries, several of which due to being cleaned up by other riders.

Dani is unfortunately the unluckiest rider on the grid, but even if he doesn't win a championship for HRC, i think they'd be well advised to prevent him from stepping onto an easier to ride bike.

I very much suspect that if HRC were to let Dani get a ride on an M1, or even a GSX-RR, they'd be very hard pressed to catch him, and the same goes for everyone else in the paddock.

Honda has tried to shortcut the process and bring a moto3 star straight up - but Jack hasn't really shone in motogp (yet?).  We know he's fast, Cal rated him as one of the fastest riders on the grid, but a combination of overreaching and bad luck have left Jack on the floor and injured too often.

As a Suzuki owner, fan, and racer myself I'm very happy to see one of my favorite riders sign to ride the Suzuki for the next two years. I like Mavrick too and think it's good for him to get a factory Yamaha ride.

... Iannone is exactly what Suzuki needs to be honest. Even if he's throwing it away on occasion, it will ultimately be good for them if they've got a rider of his craziness pushing the bike towards the pointy end.

Pedrosa is arguably the 4th best rider in MotoGP. Honda by having Marquez has their main weapon for a title, has a very good second rider in Pedrosa who is able to bring points for the Manufacturer Crown and Team Crown. Witch is not bad at all when looking at the big picture. Maybe at some point in time Vinales or Iannone may surpass him, but until then, Pedrosa is the best of the rest. 

between getting a top rider and a top team mate for your number 1 rider.

DP has been the consummate team mate for a number of years, he keeps the number 1 rider honest and understands at what point in the season his role changes. Yes I know he took a little while to learn this but even NH has gotten over that, time to move on USA :-)

I find it a little strange and disrespectful to Aleix that he hasn't been signed yet after all the hard work he has put in. All the (Suzuki's) glorifying talk of Maverick but not a word about Aleix. Aleix is younger and more experienced than Andrea Iannone. Doesn't color Suzuki too wel now Mav has left.