From salaries to overtaking, there is a lot frustrating MotoGP riders right now

MotoGP riders have voiced concerns about a number of issues the championship is currently facing, from overtaking to salaries.

Jack Miller, Jorge Martin, Enea Bastianini

WHILE MotoGP is in a period of great parity, there are significant issues that the championship is currently facing, and the series’ riders have been voicing their concerns. 

After the French and Spanish Grands Prix, the difficulty in overtaking in MotoGP has become particularly apparent. Eight-times GP World Champion Marc Marquez labelled overtaking in MotoGP “nearly impossible,” thanks to a combination of the aerodynamics the bikes now make use of, as well as the more recently introduced ride height devices (RHD). 

This criticism of MotoGP’s overtaking - and therefore of the quality of the racing - also comes after it was revealed by Mat Oxley that MotoGP teams are running illegal tyre pressures in races, while going unpunished. 

Now, a article has detailed riders’ criticisms of the KymiRing, which is set to host the Finnish Grand Prix this July, and the situation regarding contracts and pay. 

“Some riders are worried because the track is so small,” said Alex Rins. “Some guys are saying that it's only first, second, third gear. But it’s the same for everybody.” However, the KymiRing is rideable, so “theoretically we will go,” according to Rins.

First-to-third gear corners are not necessarily a safety risk, but overtaking on a circuit with only one long straight could be complicated, especially in the MotoGP class, so the racing could suffer. In combination with front tyre pressure issues, aero’ and RHDs, it is not looking so good for the KymiRing, which is not yet homologated. 

Another concern of MotoGP riders at the moment is the fragility of their contracts. Alonso Lopez replaces Romano Fenati at the Speed Up team from the French Grand Prix onwards and, while the Spaniard was impressive and showed that he deserves to be in the World Championship, the manner in which Fenati lost his ride was of concern. 

“But if you have a contract, the team [must respect] the contract,” said Rins in regards to the Fenati-Speed Up situation. 

Lopez himself was the victim of a prematurely-terminated contract before the 2021 season, when he was replaced in the MAX Racing Team Husqvarna squad by Adrian Fernandez despite Lopez having a contract in place himself. 

The subject of rider salary is yet another concern raised in the Le Mans safety commission among the riders, who are worried that salaries are decreasing unreasonably.

“Also, someone was saying there needs to be a minimum salary, because I don't know what some riders are taking [pay], but it looks like not too much,” Rins said.

Since the news of Suzuki’s planned withdrawal from MotoGP came out, the subject of rider pay has become a bigger talking point. Joan Mir’s manager, Paco Sanchez, has been quite vocal on the issue. “[Suzuki] made an initial offer that was worse than the rookie offer of Joan,” said Sanchez.  “This was in Portimao. Then in Jerez they said ‘OK, we have been thinking, we will convince [Suzuki] Japan to keep your current [pay] contract’”.

The Suzuki riders are not the only ones struggling to find well-paid contracts. Aleix Espargaro was left “sad” at the lack of progress he and Aprilia had been able to make on his contract renewal. The Spaniard had become Aprilia’s first MotoGP winner in Argentina, is now on a run of three consecutive podiums and, after the French Grand Prix, is only four points behind Fabio Quartararo at the top of the MotoGP World Championship. But Aprilia, nonetheless, appear to be tightening their grip on their wallets in respect to Espargaro in the same way many other factories and teams are apparently doing, including those chasing the now contract-less Suzuki riders. 

Paco Sanchez said, “[Joan Mir] will not ride here for zero or for these shit contracts that now KTM, Ducati- all of these factories are offering to their riders.”