Upset Jonas Folger axed from Yamaha test team

Jonas Folger reveals he has been axed from the Yamaha MotoGP test team despite insisting he had an agreement for the 2020 season

Jonas Folger - Petronas Sprinta

Jonas Folger has revealed he has been axed from the Yamaha MotoGP test team despite insisting he had a verbal contract with the manufacturer ahead of 2020.

The German competed with the satellite Tech 3 Yamaha team in 2017 but was forced out of his ride when he contracted Gilbert’s Syndrome, a medical condition that affects energy levels. He made a soft return to action in 2019 with a testing role with Yamaha, plus a handful of Moto2 starts with the Petronas Sprinta team.

It was a role he’d expected to continue into 2020, despite the emergence of Johann Zarco as a rival for his position, but the German revealed on his social media accounts that the Iwata firm has reneged on its verbal agreement.

Expressing his surprise and disappointment, Folger also revealed that Yamaha would return to a format of only using Japanese test riders, in contrast to Honda and Suzuki, which have focused on a European test base in recent years.

“This bad news has come as a surprise for me,” a post on his personal website revealed. “I had the verbal agreement that Yamaha wants to continue with me and even expand this project. We were already talking about what the test plan and other missions might look like.

“But then suddenly came the rejection, although I was promised that I should soon receive the contract. But it was decided that their test programme should again be carried out exclusively by Japanese riders. So I was stopped for a long time.”

What next for Jonas Folger after Yamaha axe?

This is a crushing disappointment for a rider still rebuilding his career after the time out spent recovering from illness.

Much like Fabio Quartararo, Folger proved something of a surprise package when he was promoted from Moto2 and was already a podium winner when he began to struggle with fatigue and duly skipped the final rounds of the year.

Sitting out 2018 entirely, Folger got his return in 2019 as a substitute for Petronas Sprinta but it was a quiet comeback with no points scored. As such, a testing role seemed to suit Folger nicely in the context of his personal issues, but Yamaha’s rejection is made all the more bitter by the fact he says he’s turned down rides as a result of his verbal agreement.  

“The disappointment is great, of course, because I stiffened completely on this project and cancelled all other options for next year. Too bad, it would have been a very interesting challenge and at the same time a versatile task which I would have been very happy.

“In the role of the test driver I’ve also learned a lot so far. But at the moment I do not know how to continue my career. There are not many reasonable options at this late stage.”