The first step toward the 2022 MotoGP grid has taken place. With a new five-year contract period between Dorna, the manufacturers, and IRTA as representative of the teams starting in 2022, grid slots are open for application once again. Gresini Racing, led by Fausto Gresini, is to separate from Aprilia and become an independent team once again, they announced in a press release.
It is no secret that Gresini was to become independent, as both Fausto Gresini and Aprilia have spoken about it openly. The press release merely makes official what was already known. The partnership between Gresini and Aprilia had been a marriage of convenience from the start, a stepping stone to allow the Noale factory to return to MotoGP in 2015 without setting up major infrastructure. That was why Aprilia was still regarded as an independent team, rather than a full-factory effort, for the purpose of the Independent Team Standings.
Though the press release reveals no details of Gresini's future plans, the team has been in extended talks to run as a Suzuki satellite team. The VR46 team, which is also expected to become a full-time MotoGP operation in 2022, is also a candidate for the Suzuki bikes, should they become available. But there is also an option that Gresini continue with Aprilia as a satellite operation, alongside Aprilia's own full-factory team.
Gresini is one of a number of changes expected to take place in 2022. As mentioned, the VR46 team is expected to become a full-time two-bike MotoGP effort, taking over the slots from the Esponsorama (formerly Avintia) team. VR46 will be making their debut from the 2021 season, where they are running Luca Marini in the Esponsorama team aboard a Ducati Desmosedici GP19.
Beyond that, there may be some changes in the bikes which independent teams will be running. Gresini and VR46 have been linked to Suzuki, as have Petronas, who are rumored to be looking to switch from Yamaha to Suzuki. If the Yamaha satellite bikes are vacated, then VR46 would be almost certain to take over those machines. Aprilia are also interested in having a satellite team, though whether an independent team would be interested in running Aprilia RS-GP machines unless they were heavily subsidized is open to question. All six MotoGP manufacturers have stated their intention to remain, barring unforeseen circumstances.
2022 is a key date in MotoGP racing because Dorna runs its contracts on a five-year cycle. Dorna signs contracts with manufacturers and teams for a five-year period, to ensure the continuity of the sport. In return, Dorna subsidize the teams and factories during that period, to give them the best chance of survival for the duration of the contract.
Below is the press release from Gresini announcing their plans for 2022:
GRESINI RACING: FROM 2022, THE MOTOGP PROJECT IS REALITY
As a pleasant confirmation for an institution as solid as historical within MotoGP, from 2022 Gresini Racing will be again in the premier class as Independent team.
The team led by Fausto Gresini, which is already present across all categories of the MotoGP World Championship, is back to its natural spot and will be relying on its own support only. A five-year agreement was signed between Gresini Racing and IRTA (2022-2026), a further proof of the commitment by the Faenza-based team.
Gresini Racing has been present in the premier class since 1997 and therefore is among the longest-lasting teams and one with a very solid tally: 41 podiums, 14 wins and three runner-up spots in the category.
FAUSTO GRESINI – TEAM MANAGER GRESINI RACING
“We’re happy to announce this agreement with IRTA, which will see us in MotoGP for five years starting from 2022. We will not be representing Aprilia as a factory team anymore, so we will continue as an Independent Team, doing so with as much will and commitment. There’s a lot of work to do and many things to define and communicate. Obviously we’re already working on this huge project, and we will reveal the details little by little. Stay tuned!”