The official announcement that Alex Rins has signed a two-year deal with the LCR Honda team means that the 2023 MotoGP grid is now officially half full. The factory Yamaha, KTM, and Aprilia seats are all confirmed, as is the Gresini Ducati team. There has been official confirmation of one side of the Repsol Honda, Ducati Factory, and LCR Honda teams.
Does that mean that the remaining 11 seats are still wide open? Not all of them. There are some which are sure bets, while others are still very much open.
The Ducati seats are all pretty much taken, the only question being who will be shuffled where. Johann Zarco is as good as certain of remaining at Pramac Ducati, while Ducati are still pondering whether to put Jorge Martin or Enea Bastianini on the second factory seat, the other being consigned to the second bike at Pramac. The Mooney VR46 squad of Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi is likely to remain unchanged for 2023.
The second Repsol Honda seat is almost certain to go to Joan Mir, though there have been delays to the signing of that contract. Mir's recent slump in form has also shifted the balance of power in HRC's favor. The most likely scenario is that the contract will be announced ahead of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, but there could still be bumps along the road for the relationship.
The second seat at LCR will depend both on Ai Ogura's form and on whether he feels ready to move up to MotoGP. With Idemitsu footing the bill for the second LCR bike, there is no doubt that it will go to a rider from Asia, with Somkiat Chantra being another option if HRC decide to move on from Takaaki Nakagami. Nakagami is still in the running for the seat, however.
Since their switch from Yamaha to Aprilia RNF, the team has remained completely open to ideas about who they could put on the bike, though as Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola explained to Niki Kovács and myself, Aprilia will also have a say in the rider line up. Raul Fernandez looks set to make the switch from KTM Tech3, while the second seat is likely to go to Miguel Oliveira. Darryn Binder could be retained if either of those signings fall through.
At Tech3, Pol Espargaro looks set to make a return to KTM, though this time in the satellite team. It would be a reuniting with both KTM, who Espargaro rode for from 2017 to 2020, and Tech3, where Espargaro rode a Yamaha from 2014 to 2016. Remy Gardner is likely to stay put at Tech3, but that is far from assured at the moment.
With the loss of the two seats formerly held by Suzuki, there is little space for anyone currently in Moto2, outside of the slots held by Idemitsu specifically for Asian riders. Riders like Pedro Acosta, Augusto Fernandez, and Aron Canet will likely have to wait until 2024, or perhaps even 2025, when most of the contracts will once again be up.
The confirmed contracts are in the table below:
|Monster Energy Yamaha|
|Franco Morbidelli||Yamaha M1||2023|
|Fabio Quartararo||Yamaha M1||2024|
|Red Bull KTM|
|Brad Binder||KTM RC16||2024|
|Jack Miller||KTM RC16||2024|
|Aleix Espargaro||Aprilia RS-GP||2024|
|Maverick Viñales||Aprilia RS-GP||2024|
|Marc Márquez||Honda RC213V||2024|
|Pecco Bagnaia||Ducati Desmosedici GP23||2024|
|Alex Marquez||Ducati Desmosedici GP22||2023|
|Fabio Di Giannantonio||Ducati Desmosedici GP22||2023|
|Alex Rins||Honda RC213V||2024|