Tech 3 KTM to become GASGAS MotoGP, Pol Espargaro to return?

Pol Espargaro is understood to be close to a lifeline deal that will see him return to the KTM fold riding with the rebranded GASGAS Tech 3 team

Pol Espargaro - Repsol Honda

The final pieces of the 2023 MotoGP World Championship puzzle are slowly fitting into place but one potentially significant announcement now appears to be emerging on the horizon.

As it stands, Ducati and Honda are now the only manufacturers yet to confirm their factory pairings for next season, though the former is already known to be selecting between Jorge Martin and Enea Bastianini.

Honda, meanwhile, is almost certain to confirm 2020 MotoGP World Champion Joan Mir alongside Marc Marquez, with Alex Rins and Ai Ogura strongly rumoured to fill the firm’s satellite seats at LCR.

It means Pol Espargaro will be frozen out of the Honda squad after only two years with the Repsol team, during which he has achieved a modest two podiums and one pole position.

However, while most seats on the 2023 MotoGP grid are now filled, Espargaro looks destined to receive a lifeline from the KTM squad he raced with between 2017 and 2020. The Spaniard, who competed with KTM from its premier class debut, won praise for his efforts with the Austrian firm, riding out the difficult initial seasons to lead its challenge during a breakthrough 2020 campaign.

Indeed, though Espargaro failed to secure any wins - unlike stablemates Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder - five podiums earned him fifth in the standings.

It means KTM is keen to lure Espargaro back to its fold, albeit within the satellite Tech 3 Racing effort after the factory seats were snapped up by Binder and the incoming Jack Miller.

“Pol had a very strong influence on the MotoGP project from 2017 to 2020. With his help, we got where we are,” Pit Beirer told Speedweek. 

“Pol still has a score to settle with KTM. Because when the motorcycle became capable of winning, he left us for another manufacturer, where he pursued his childhood dream. In the meantime, it has been noticed that not everything is easier there than with us.”

Espargaro is expected to be partnered with 2021 Moto2 World Champion Remy Gardner, with his current team-mate Raul Fernandez tipped to join RNF Aprilia.

GASGAS to replace Suzuki as sixth MotoGP manufacturer?

Beyond Espargaro’s return, next year could well see Carmelo Ezpeleta get his wish of retaining six manufacturers on the MotoGP grid in the wake of Suzuki’s exit… albeit on something of a technicality.

Indeed, KTM is strongly rumoured to reconfigure Tech 3 Racing by having it run with the branding from its GASGAS sister brand.

The Spanish company - which has an illustrious history in motocross and this year clinched its first Dakar Rally title - came under the Pierer KTM umbrella in 2019 and has since been promoted via grand prix racing with entries in Moto3 and Moto2.

It’s a strategy KTM looks set to apply to MotoGP by rebranding the Tech 3 team, though it is unclear if it will be permitted to follow the tactic it uses in Moto3 and Moto2 by labelling the KTM RC16 as a GASGAS chassis, or whether it will still be entered as a KTM bike.

If so, it means GASGAS could be considered a separate manufacturer entry, though the fact it is branding a satellite effort - rather than being GASGAS’ own construction - might prevent it from doing so.