“No contracts signed” – Honda responds to Pol Espargaro rumours

Honda responds to reports that Pol Espargaro will be leaving KTM for the title-winning Repsol squad for the 2021 MotoGP World Championship

Pol Espargaro - KTM Factory Racing [1200]

Honda has responded to widespread media reports that it has signed Pol Espargaro for the 2021 MotoGP World Championship season, avoiding denial but insisting no contracts have been signed.

Several outlets are suggesting a deal has been done with Espargaro that will see him leave KTM and join title-winners Repsol Honda for 2021, pairing him with six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez in the squad.

His employment would come at the expense of Alex Marquez, who was only signed to the team ahead of the 2020 MotoGP season to replace the retiring Jorge Lorenzo. 

Amid all the rumours, the younger Marquez hasn’t even started a MotoGP race yet due to the delays brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the speculation – which state varying degrees of certainty – Honda maintains it hasn’t come to an agreement with any riders beyond Marc Marquez, who is tied into a deal that would keep him at HRC until the end of the 2024 season.

"HRC is always thinking about the present and the future of its structure, from the lower categories to MotoGP,” HRC boss Alberto Puig told Crash.net

"Due to the circumstances that we are in, this season is not developing through the usual channels, but that does not mean that Honda stops continuing to plan the best possible future for all their riders.

"We do not have any contracts signed with anyone that have not already been announced."

Should Marquez be levered from the factory team, he would almost certainly end up at the satellite LCR Honda team. That would put either Cal Crutchlow or Takaaki Nakagami under threat, but the latter is considered more likely to stay due to the strong backing he has from Japanese sponsors and Honda bosses.

Alternatively, his Idemitsu-backed side of the garage could potentially be spun out into its own team, similar to the Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Moto2 outfit. The Japanese rider already gets different machinery (year-old compared to Crutchlow’s on-spec bike) and his side of the LCR garage is treated differently, with his own bike sponsors and PR team. 

Should Espargaro join Honda, it would create a major headache for KTM which has been eager to retain the services of the Spaniard after filling its other seats with youngsters. 

However, it is known to be pushing hard to lure Andrea Dovizioso from Ducati, even if the Italian himself was thought to be close to signing a new deal with the Italian marque.