The 2021 MotoGP season ended last weekend, with Red Bull KTM’s Miguel Oliveira spanking the competition (Joan Mir was crowned season champion the week before). Now, it’s time for the off-season moves to begin.
Except this year, there aren’t really many off-season moves to think about. Almost everyone has a job, and almost all the teams’ seats are spoken for.
For 2021, Marc Marquez is expected back at Honda’s factory team, where Pol Espargaro will join him. Alex Marquez is moving down to LCR Honda, taking Cal Crutchlow’s seat. As for Crutchlow, he’s moving over to Yamaha, taking on a test rider role. It’s the sensible move for the straight-shooting Brit; long seen as a crasher on-track, he’s nevertheless respected for his bike development smarts. His race results trailed off greatly this season, but he may get into a few wild cards yet.
Jorge Lorenzo is leaving Yamaha’s test rider role, and nobody knows what’s next for him, except for trash-talking Crutchlow on Twitter. Lorenzo seems to be quite the scrapper on social media these days.
The Rossi question starts to sort itself out next season. When will he retire? Well, the Doctor is now riding with Petronas, trading places with Fabio Quartararo. Most seasons, this would be a demotion, except Petronas’ satellite bikes often outrode the Yamaha factory squad this year. Who knows, maybe Rossi’s moving in the right direction? Anyway, Maverick Vinales and Quartararo are teammates next season, and it will be most interesting to see what comes of it, while Rossi’s paired with Franco Morbidelli, who may show up #46 himself.
As for the other factory teams, Oliveira is back at KTM next year, partnered with South African rider Brad Binder. Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia are riding for Ducati, and Joan Mir and Alex Rins give Suzuki a strong 1-2 punch again next year.
Moving over to Aprilia, we enter the Twilight Zone. With the whole Andrea Iannone scandal resulting in a four-year ban that effectively ends his career, Aprilia was short one factory rider. So, now it seems Aleix Espargaro is confirmed as the lead rider in 2021, but Aprilia is going to let Bradley Smith and Lorenzo Savadori battle it out for the other slot. One rider will be the second factory racer in 2021, the other will be the test rider, but they aren’t saying who is who. It’s bizarre, but sadly typical of the messed-up atmosphere on the Aprilia team.
For the full list of 2021 riders, including the other satellite teams, see MotoGP’s list here.