The 2021 MotoGP Rider Line Up Nearly Complete: Four Question Marks Remain

With the announcement of their line up for the Factory and Pramac teams, Ducati has brought the 2021 MotoGP silly season a big step nearer to its close. The two pairings of Jack Miller/Pecco Bagnaia and Johann Zarco/Jorge Martin means that only four seats remain open, and of those, only two are truly uncertain.

The known unknowns, to steal a phrase, concern the LCR Honda seat and the Avintia Ducati seat vacated by Johann Zarco. Takaaki Nakagami is still in talks with HRC over his seat at LCR Honda, the only open question whether he will get an update to the 2021 Honda RC213V, or have to contend with the 2019 bike he is still racing (the engine and aerodynamics freeze mean that the 2021 spec bike will be the same as the 2020 machine currently being ridden by Cal Crutchlow, Alex Marquez, and Stefan Bradl as Marc Marquez' temporary replacement).

Enea Bastianini has already announced that he will be riding for Ducati in 2021, with the seat left empty at Avintia Ducati by Johann Zarco the place where the young Italian will land. Tito Rabat currently has a contract to race with Avintia in 2021, but he has a decision to make on whether he wants to continue. If not, then Luca Marini is expected to move up from Moto2.

That leaves the seat in the Aprilia Gresini team. The seat is technically being held open for Andrea Iannone, should the Italian win his appeal against his doping ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. But the seat is mostly likely to go to either Andrea Dovizioso or Cal Crutchlow, with Dovizioso believed to be the favorite. Dovizioso's decision to take the Aprilia ride will hinge on whether he believes the bike can be competitive or not.

The officially announced 2021 MotoGP rider lin up so far:

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)
Pecco Bagnaia Ducati Desmosedici GP21 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
Pramac Ducati
Jorge Martin Ducati Desmosedici GP21 2022
Johann Zarco Ducati Desmosedici GP21 2021 (option for 2022)
LCR Honda
Alex Márquez Honda RC213V 2022
Avintia Ducati
Tito Rabat Ducati 2021

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How I wanted to see Dovi take the 2020 title, with a big middle finger to Ducati management.  Take a full 6 months off to celebrate, then land at KTM for 2022.  Aprilia just don't seem to be financially committed to the sport, or just don't have the cash.  

If you could pick between Dovi and Mir, you'd rather see Dovi BT? Sincerely?

I MUCH prefer the latter. Super fun development. I hear you on the disappointment inherent to being dropped to mid pack for the hard working, fast good guy. But his trajectory turned down a couple of seasons ago. Spots on those bananas, and there is a NICE crop a-coming.

I also see Duc management's efforts and difficulties,yes they REALLY screwed the pooch w Stoner, but I agree that they should be pushing new eager young riders on that bike. Less vitriol towards Red brass here than most it seems. I like Dovisioso! And I am neither Italian nor a fan of the brand. Just see the bike as being under showcased by its riders post 2017. 

Better Aprilia than nothing for Dovi, eh? He could TEST KTM, but would never come back to racing here. Completely sure. More sure than that he couldn't enjoy the low pressure friendly Aprilia garage. Or that they can't get an engine to match Suzuki. It isn't THAT far off, the bike is a baby, and the parent co has some Euros. What the heck else is Aprilia Racing spending money on these days? 

How do you explain Stoner's arc at Ducati? Ten wins during his championship winning year in 2007, then 6 in '08, 4 in '09 and three wins in his final year at Ducati in 2010. It would be a completely different story if he had not signed with Honda for 2011 and promptly won the title with 10 wins again. I see a similar pattern here only that Dovizioso missed out on the championship trophy in 2017. Stoner also complained about the front end of the bike. I recall seeing him crying in the pits at Qatar after crashing out of the lead after an inexplicable front end washout. Bagnaia had a similar look in the eyes during the rider round-up after his crash after the Misano 2 race. Nothing spooks a rider more than not understanding why they crash, and it is a basic human characteristic of the mind to invent a reason in order to explain away our ignorance (lack of knowledge or information). This allows one to go back out there and push 100% because if there is doubt then one is in conflict with the mind and performance will be compromised. This comment is not intended to be disparaging. Not saying anyone is ignorant, but that the mind can experience ignorance. Just speaking a fact of human psychology and how it can cause discomfort.

See what I did there?

There has to be leavers to the stage and I wonder if injury-prone Cal will call it a day. He's had a good run and I for one will miss him and his straight up honesty and remarkable courage. I doubt WSBK would hold much interest, seeing as it was struggling with support even before the pandemic. Hope Petrucci turns up again somewhere, and Dovi of course.