Pecco Bagnaia Stays In Moto2 With Sky VR46 For Another Year

Pecco Bagnaia is one Moto2 rider who will not be moving up to MotoGP in 2018. The Italian rookie, who has been impressive in his debut Moto2 season, scoring a podium at Jerez, is to remain with the Sky Racing Team VR46 for the following season.

Bagnaia had been linked to a couple of rides in MotoGP. Both Pramac and especially Aspar were keen to see the Italian youngster move up to MotoGP for next season, after his strong rides in Moto3 and impressive start to his Moto2 career. Bagnaia has chosen stability, however, remaining with the Sky VR46 team for a second season in Moto2. 

That may yet offer him a path to MotoGP. It is an open secret in the paddock that the VR46 team wants to move up to MotoGP, with the team run by Valentino Rossi said to have been offered two grid slots for the 2019 season. If Bagnaia continues to make the progress he has already shown, it would be a natural progression for the Italian to move up to MotoGP along with the VR46 team. Whether that plan actually comes to fruition or not remains to be seen, with no news expected on that until next year. 

The press release from the Sky VR46 team announcing Bagnaia's contract extension appears below:


Pecco – currently the best rookie in Moto2 - renews his commitment to the Team that supporting the Young Italian Talents of the two wheels
Bagnaia: "I'm proud to be in this big family even in 2018, for achieving important results".

Assen, June 22nd, 2017 - Francesco Bagnaia will remain in Moto2 with the Sky Racing Team VR46 in 2018. After two important second places in Jerez de la Frontera and in Le Mans, Sky and VR46 announce the renewal of the contract for the rider number 42, currently the best rookie in the intermediate category.

The deal comes in an extraordinary period of growth for Bagnaia, who has scored the first podium in Moto2 on the Andalusian track just four races from the debut in the new category in Qatar. Pecco will continue his growth path in the Team, born in 2014, to support the young Italian talents of the two wheels.

Francesco Bagnaia: "Just a year ago, I decided to face the Moto2 challenge with the Sky Racing Team VR46, a Team that, with the VR46 Riders Academy and Sky, has always supported me. Today I'm proud to say that in 2018 I will continue to work in this big family for achieving great results. With more experience I'm sure we will be able to remain close to the Top guys".

Pablo Nieto, Team Manager: "I'm really happy to confirm that Pecco will stay with us next year in Moto2. We made our debut in the new category in Qatar, but thanks to this talented rookie and his extraordinary ability to adapt his riding style to the new bike, we have already taken some nice satisfactions. His choice to stay in the Sky Racing Team VR46 is an extra injection of confidence for everybody to make even more efforts and give their 100% every weekend. As a team, we will continue to support him by providing all our professionalism, commitment and passion to help him in his grow path and to show, not only on track, his incredible talent. I'm sure we can achieve important goals together".


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Choosing to NOT get on a Ducati seems an easy wise decision. I think this is a good plan. Stuck in the gate of my mind is this Satellite bikes from Suzuki and Aprilia (eventually KTM) matter. Can you see VR46 going with these? Of course not.

With nothing more arising from Dorna, Manu's or satellite/customer teams about it perhaps the push for 4 bikes each has evaporated? Shall we settle into an appreciation that is more about lack of demand from customers for bikes other than Honda/Ducati? Ok, but it pains me a bit to have 4th squads of them. Especially since Ducati has always been such an atypical bike to ride relative to the more conventional and better step into MotoGP of the others.

No demand for satellite Yamahas? I would think they would be a popular choice, this year in particular, if Yamaha made them available. And wouldnt that be the first choice of VR46 team especially?

Yamaha has historically been very clear. They are only willing to supply four bikes: two factory bikes, and two satellite bikes. Currently, Tech 3 have the satellite Yamahas. But if the VR46 team came to MotoGP, it would be inconceivable for the team to run anything other than Yamahas.

the only option then would be for VR46 to take over Tech 3 (which I could image would be a very unpopular move amongst the fans and even Dorna) or for VR46 to take over the factory squad.  I could kind of see why they would like to do that..... big VR dollars injection potentially.  None the less, neither option seems guaranteed. 

Would Tech 3 ever entertain running another manufacturers bike?  A second Suzuki team maybe?

I'm glad he isn’t heading up prematurely.  I think to justify a MotoGP seat you should be fighting at the front (and for the win) on a very regular basis (see M. Marquez and Vinales etc… even Miller, as he was fighting for his respective class championship).  

I've recently had a vibe, that seems to stem from the media (and sometimes the race teams), that always prematurely talks up a rider, leading them to jumping classes too soon. Either the teams are getting too anxious trying to snap up a rider before another team does or they are banking on sneaky bet that they may work out really well.

This leads us to scenarios where young riders are being placed under even more pressure because they’ve got the golden ticket waived in front of their eyes.  Look at Morbidelli. He has struggled the last few races with a MotoGP ride dangling.

Surprisingly A. Marquez has shined.  I think Marquez’s initial performance in Moto2 has suffered because he was touted as joining his brother in MotoGP, instead of focusing on learning a new class and being hungry to win THAT class.  Purely conjecture but I don’t think he has ever had his eyes properly on Moto2 and he has suffered for it. I also didn’t believe all the hype his family touted about Alex’s being as good or better than his brother.  He has never ridden with the skill and determination that Marc has.  He has never dominated.

I like Pecco and hope he becomes the kind of rider that wins regularly and then gets his seat in the big boys class. 

Pedrosa won the 250cc championship twice before moving up to motogp.  Lorenzo won the 250cc championship twice before moving up to motogp.  Zarco won the moto2 championship twice before moving up.

Teams seem to be gambling on finding a Stoner, and they keep grabbing young talent before they're ready, and then discarding them just as quickly.  Look at Lowes for example, or Miller, Redding, Bradl, etc.  If you only get a few years to prove yourself in the motogp field, then you want to arrive as a fully matured rider, you don't want to be still finding your feet while circulating in a disappointing position in motogp; sending your stock price through the floor.  It's worth noting that even Stoner, after having his full time debut in 250's, dropped back into the 125's for two years before coming back with a vengeance.

I agree with your point, but I don't think Bradl fits with the others in your list of examples. He had four seasons in 125cc plus wildcards, two in Moto2 and a title in his bag before moving to MotoGP where he spent another five seasons, quite a bit more than many riders get. I'd say that he was sufficiently seasoned when he joined the big class and had a decent run at proving himself. Even Redding had six full seasons in the lower classes before moving up and is already in his fourth year of MotoGP, he just started very young (maybe too young tbh).

When you look at the experience of the current MotoGP field, it seems the average is around 6 years in the lower classes, a bit more for the older riders and a bit less for very successful ones such as Pedrosa and Marquez who had 5 years each, but took 3 and 2 titles in them, respectively.

I think what we're seeing is a change of guard with riders who've started incredibly early, so we shouldn't confuse age with experience. Bautista for example was already 25 when he joined MotoGP and had only one season more than Bradl in the lower classes while last year there was much debate about Zarco's age as a Rookie and he had eight seasons under his belt.

What happens now I think is that the pressure starts much earlier, with riders even in the national championships (take the junior "world championship" for example) already pushing incredibly hard for results instead of experience, because there are quite a few fast track options available to get into the world championship (Ajo, Aspar and other "junior" teams) and a lot more media coverage, so even there the rate of "failed" riders has increased and it's hard to come back from that. If any of these riders make it and happen to get offered a MotoGP ride after a few years, it takes a very calm and confident person to decline that chance of a lifetime. At a young age and often without proper managerial support, I certainly understand why so many jump classes the second they get an offer. See also Aron Canet's lightning-quick answer in press conference that he'd rather have a win in MotoGP than a title in Moto3.

Long-term investment is not always in the interest of manufacturers and teams or even sponsors (see the Movistar debacle of Pedrosa's move to MotoGP) as there's too much that can happen over the years (injuries, drop in performance, unfortunate behaviour) and no guarantee a rider won't still be lured away by a better offer after he's made it big, so I can also see why factories now try to secure "the next big thing" before anyone else does and drop them if they don't prove themselves immediately. There is a lot of money in this.

It's kind of a lose-lose situation from a growth perspective though and the best options are certainly future-minded environments like the Ajo or Marc VDS Team (and Gresini to some extent) or even the VR46 Academy/Sky Team connection. Maybe more teams & manufacturers will realize the potential of these kind of connections, but even those aren't perfect, see the plight of Lowes.

Anyway, just my two cents. :)