The Yamaha Factory was quick to confirm its line-up for 2021 earlier this year. After verifying an unsurprising contract extension for Spanish rider Maverick Vinales, the team announced that flying frenchman Fabio Quartararo would join its 2021 line-up, leaving nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi without a seat. The Doctor revealed he will continue racing next season, and is expected to switch to the satellite counterpart in the coming year.
In a move which divided MotoGP fans, Repsol Honda Team renewed reigning World Champion Marc Marquez’s contract for four years. This significantly lengthy signing means the eight-time World Champion will have been paired with HRC for eleven years by 2024. The same can’t be said for Marquez’s current teammate and brother, Moto2 champion Alex Marquez, though whose seat will been replaced by KTM cornerstone Pol Espargaro in 2021.
With history feeling like it is repeating itself, Australian rider Jack Miller announced he would take the step up from Pramac Racing to the factory Ducati Team in 2021. The prospect of Miller clad in red has inspired fans to liken him to MotoGP icon Casey Stoner, wondering if Miller could be the next Australian to follow in his successful tyre tracks. Meanwhile, Marc Marquez’s biggest rival Andrea Dovizioso is strongly rumoured to remain at Ducati next year.
Red Bull KTM
As Pol Espargaro takes the leap to Repsol Honda Team, Red Bull KTM are banking on younger talents Brad Binder and Miguel Oliviera to bring them success in 2021. The South African and Portuguese riders, who were former teammates in Moto2 and Moto3, will reunite in the premier class with a factory ride. While Oliviera impressed in his rookie 2019 season, Binder is yet to make his premier class debut, but has been with the Red Bull KTM family since 2015 and made all 15 Grand Prix victories in orange.
Team Suzuki Ecstar
Like many MotoGP riders, Spaniards Alex Rins and Joan Mir were rumoured to leave their team after the current season, but despite this, the teammates have committed to riding for Team Suzuki Ecstar in 2021. The Hamamatsu team behind Suzuki are focused on continuity in their 60th year of racing and beyond. Aiming for podium positions and race wins, will Suzuki resume the exciting duel between Rins and Marquez that we saw in the most recent season?
Red Bull KTM Tech 3
Remaining in the KTM satellite team for 2021 is youngest premier class rider Iker Lecuona, who will have better opportunity to impress after being drafted in last minute as Johann Zarco’s replacement at the end of 2019. Lecuona will be joined by Danilo Petrucci, whose future was left uncertain when Jack Miller signed for Ducati. Though widely expected that the Italian (now the first premier-class winner to join a KTM MotoGP team) would be a direct replacement for Pol Espargaro, he will join the French squad rather than the official team.
Petronas SRT Yamaha
While Rossi has been cautious in revealing the future of his racing career, it has been hinted that plans are underway to see a move to Petronas in 2021. Though a satellite team, there’s no denying that the Sepang Racing Team machines are factory in everything but their livery, and are up to scratch when it comes to battling factory bikes– as proved by 2019 Rookie of the Year, Quartararo. If Rossi does make this move, the team will see an all-Italian line-up with fan-favourite Franco Morbidelli remaining for 2021.
Following a winter of uncertainty over both a new bike and a rider drugs ban, Aprilia have turned a corner in 2020. Managing to find some clarity, the team has signed established racer Aleix Espargaro for another two years. But it is unclear whether Aprilia are now waiting to see if suspended Andrea Iannone will be available in 2021, or whether they are looking to dip into the pool of talented Moto2 riders coming up through the ranks.
Reale Avintia Racing
Tito Rabat is the only rider on the grid whose contract doesn’t align with other riders. Out of sync, the Spanish rider’s contract runs until the end of 2021, so it comes as no surprise who will ride for next year. But current teammate Johann Zarco only signed a one-year deal with Ducati for the 2020 season, and it hasn’t yet been confirmed whether the Frenchman will remain with the outfit beyond this season.
With Alex Marquez shuffled out of the factory Honda team before the racing has started, one possibility is to sport LCR Honda attire in 2021. Cal Crutchlow and Takaaki Nakagami have not yet signed contracts for next year, and with rumours of Cructhlow’s retirement no longer circulating, the pressure is on. It seems most likely though that Nakagami would remain with the outfit, as Honda bosses favour a strong Japanese rider.
With all eyes on the factory Ducati team during the transfer period, there has been no news from its satellite outfit, Pramac Ducati. All arrows point to much-loved Francesco ‘Pecco’ remaining after 2020, but perhaps the team will assess his performance as the racing restarts before making a decision. Meanwhile its looking more probable that Pramac will take on a Moto2 candidate, Jorge Martin in 2020.
We look forward to more announcements as the final pieces of the rider line-up puzzle fall into place.