The 2021 MotoGP Rider Line Up So Far: Waiting For Ducati

With Valentino Rossi finally confirmed at the Petronas Yamaha SRT team, the rider line up for 2021 is getting close to completion. The factory seats at Honda, KTM, Suzuki, and Yamaha are filled, as are the satellite seats at KTM and Yamaha.

The nominally vacant seat at LCR Honda is destined to be taken by Takaaki Nakagami once again, the Japanese rider still in talks with HRC management over whether he will get a 2021 spec RC213V or a 2020 bike. Nakagami's performance so far on the 2019 bike has shown him worthy of getting the latest spec, but those details will take a while to thrash out.

The next question to be answered will come some time next week, when Ducati announce their plans for 2021 and beyond. They are expected to move Pecco Bagnaia into the factory team and Johann Zarco up to the Pramac squad. Jorge Martin is likely to join Zarco in Pramac, while Enea Bastianini should head to Avintia.

Whether Bastianini joins Tito Rabat in Avintia or not is still open to question. Though Rabat has a contract with Avintia for 2021, there is some talk that Rabat might move to a different role, and Luca Marini move up to MotoGP to take his place.

The biggest question is what happens with Aprilia. That will only be resolved once Andrea Iannone's appeal against is doping ban has been heard at the CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in October. Then, Aprilia must decide whether to keep Iannone or sig another rider, with Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso in play. Dovizioso will likely control that decision, depending on whether he decides to race in 2021, or take on a role as test rider for a season and contemplate a return in 2022.

Below is the rider contract status so far for 2021:

Rider Bike Contract until
Monster Energy Yamaha
Maverick Viñales Yamaha M1 2022
Fabio Quartararo Yamaha M1 2022
Repsol Honda
Marc Márquez Honda RC213V 2024
Pol Espargaro Honda RC213V 2022
Suzuki Ecstar
Alex Rins Suzuki GSX-RR 2022
Joan Mir Suzuki GSX-RR 2022
Ducati Factory
Jack Miller Ducati Desmosedici GP21 2021 (option for 2022)
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Aleix Espargaro Aprilia RS-GP 2022
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Brad Binder KTM RC16 2021
Miguel Oliveira KTM RC16 2021
Red Bull KTM Tech3
Danilo Petrucci KTM RC16 2021
Iker Lecuona KTM RC16 2021
Petronas Yamaha SRT
Franco Morbidelli Yamaha M1 2022
Valentino Rossi Yamaha M1 2021
LCR Honda
Alex Márquez Honda RC213V 2022
Avintia Ducati
Tito Rabat* Ducati 2021

* Rabat has a contract for 2021, but may be replaced


Back to top



Dovi to Aprilia, AND the bike taps approximately Suzuki equivalent motor. He isn't done here! Just in Red. Sorry to Cal whom also deserves it and has hot brilliance, but is rather banged up, less consistent over time, and seems nearer retirement. Crutch gets it? I will be super happy as well, he may fire up another few good seasons. Hate to lose either of these two! (See Iannone, Rabat and Smith below). Both could help with development.

Luca Marini to Avintia on Rabat's seat. But this is a Spanish team through and through. Perhaps Duc can "suggest" it? In with the new, out with the old (go enjoy WSBK rather than wither back there!). Welcome Moto2's fastest.

Iannone is done. Just waiting. We have seen what we expected from Smith. I am not thinking he is as good a Test rider as could be had, but that hinges on someone that can get a bike on the pace like perhaps Cal being up for it. Not sure about that, other than that he can be so far off the pace at times testing that it just looks like reliability shakeout. It is too easy to mistake wanting something like a stronger Aprilia, or Suzuki Jr Team, for "knowing what is going on and what to do." I do know that a new Aprilia rider will be very welcome, and that more is to come for this iteration of their bike. What do you think?

Not excited about Herve's riders next year, apologies to both. Orange is looking really solid though! They are on the gas indeed. It will be interesting to see how Pol and Petrucci experience their new bikes and what they have to say. Especially Pol. And his crash rate early on. 

With freezes on development giving a 2021 boost to those happy with their bikes and those with concessions, looking forward to more progress from the Manus coming forward from behind lately. It is a time of opportunity and change.