MotoGP

2021 MotoGP Rider Line-up - Espargaro to Honda, Morbidelli re-signs 

The 2021 MotoGP rider line-up is almost complete as Honda officially confirms Pol Espargaro and Alex Marquez, while PSRT Yamaha announces Franco Morbidelli

The 2021 MotoGP grid is almost full now as Honda finally put rumours to bed by confirming Pol Espargaro will ride alongside Marc Marquez at Repsol Honda, while Petronas Yamaha formally announced Franco Morbidelli has re-signed.

With Espargaro’s link to Honda emerging very suddenly last month, though the manufacturer itself stayed coy on the prospect of signing the Spaniard the deal was all-but-confirmed when KTM went ahead and announced his exit well in advance.

As such, the news ahead of the 2020 MotoGP opener was simply a mere formality, though it does still represent an aggressive new line-up for Honda which sits between the experience of Jorge Lorenzo and the youth of Alex Marquez.

Marquez Jr, meanwhile, will be shifted over to a factory-backed bike prepared by the LCR Honda team for 2021, the news coming just days before he makes his MotoGP debut on the full factory Repsol bike. He is expected to replace Cal Crutchlow, though Takaaki Nakagami is yet to be officially confirmed on the second bike too.

Over at Yamaha, Petronas SRT announced its first signing of 2021 with Morbidelli, who will remain with the Malaysian-based team for another two years. 

“I’m very pleased to be renewing with Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team as we had such a great season together last year, working with a great drive to achieve success," Morbidelli said.

"I think it’s important for me to continue with the same team, bike and environment going forward as it feels great to work with them. We all work well together and it’s great fun to work with all the Petronas SRT crew.”

It means only six 2021 MotoGP seats remain up for grabs but many of these are considered to be unofficially agreed upon.

Chief among these is Valentino Rossi who is almost definitely on his way to Petronas SRT Yamaha for next season, with an announcement due any day. The only unknown detail is whether it will be a one or two-year deal.

Over at Ducati, a bottleneck has emerged in the wake of Andrea Dovizioso’s stubbornness to sign a new factory contract having complained about the financial elements of the terms. As such, Pecco Bagnaia (Pramac) and Johnn Zarco (Avintia) are on standby in case they need to be called up to replace him if it comes to that.

With Jack Miller promoted to the factory team, Pramac Ducati is expected to have the only rookie on the 2021 MotoGP grid in Moto2 standout Jorge Martin.

Meanwhile, Aprilia will wait until Andrea Iannone’s appeal for a drugs suspension is heard. The Italian – who was given an 18-month ban in April – is attempting to get it overturned or reduced. However, by beginning this motion, Iannone also risks having his sentence extended with WADA attempting to get it increased to the maximum four-year term.

With limited rider options available to it, the seat if available is likely to become a British head to head between Crutchlow and Bradley Smith, with the three-time GP winner most likely to prevail if Dorna intervenes to keep him on the grid.

The 2020 MotoGP season kicks off this weekend at Jerez, the first of at least 13 confirmed rounds four months after the season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

2021 MotoGP Rider Line-up (so far...)

2021 MotoGP Rider Line-up
TeamRider #1Rider #2
Repsol HondaMarc MarquezPol Espargaro
Ducati TeamJack MillerAndrea Dovizioso
Yamaha RacingMaverick VinalesFabio Quartararo
Team Suzuki EcstarAlex RinsJoan Mir
KTM Factory RacingMiguel OliveiraBrad Binder
Aprilia Gresini RacingAleix EspargaroAndrea Iannone ^
LCR HondaAlex MarquezTakaaki Nakagami
Pramac DucatiPecco BagnaiaJorge Martin
Petronas SRT YamahaFranco MorbidelliValentino Rossi
Tech 3 KTMDanilo PetrucciIker Lecuona
Avintia DucatiTito RabatJohann Zarco

Italics - Not confirmed by expected

^ - Dependent on drugs appeal outcome

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