The 2023 MotoGP season is still in full swing, in fact there have only been five Grand Prix weekends, but in the meantime the team bosses and various personal managers of the drivers are already working hard on the plans for 2024. Below are the places already occupied, the places still to be filled and the rumors currently circulating in the paddock.
At the moment the MotoGP category has 22 riders divided over 11 teams. Of these 11 teams, 5 teams have Factory Team status and the remaining 6 teams are in the Independent Team (satellite team) category.
Below are the current MotoGP Teams and their drivers:
- Ducati Lenovo Team (Pecco Bagnaia, Enea Bastianini)
- Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP (Fabio Quartararo, Franco Morbidelli)
- Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (Brad Binder, Jack Miller)
- Aprilia Racing (Aleix Espargaro, Maverick Vinales)
- Repsol Honda Team (Marc Marquez, Joan Mir)
- Mooney VR46 Racing Team (Luca Marini, Marco Bezzecchi)
- GASGAS Tech3 Factory Racing (Pol Espargaro, Augusto Fernandez)
- Prima Pramac Ducati (Johann Zarco, Jorge Martin)
- LCR Honda Team (Alex Rins, Takaaki Nakagami)
- CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team (Miguel Oliveira, Raúl Fernández)
- Gresini Racing Ducati (Alex Marquez, Fabio Di Giannantonio)
The factory drivers at Ducati, Honda, KTM and Aprilia all have an ongoing contract after this season. At Yamaha, on the other hand, only Fabio Quartararo has an ongoing contract after this season, the contract with Franco Morbidelli expires at the end of this season. The big question is whether Yamaha still has confidence in a resurrection of the Italian. In recent times, it has been hinted at Yamaha that a decision would not be made until the summer and that Morbidelli had the chance to prove himself until then. With three Grand Prix weekends to go before the summer break (Mugello, Sachsenring and Assen), 40 World Championship points scored and a 13th place in the championship standings, Morbidelli hasn’t really been able to break any pots yet. The chances of a longer stay at Yamaha therefore seem to be getting smaller by the day.
Now Yamaha doesn’t say it out loud but it is an open secret within the paddock that Yamaha has been in talks with Jorge Martin for some time about a possible switch from Ducati to Yamaha. The current Prima Pramac Racing driver has made it clear in recent months that he would like to drive in a factory team in 2024. The Spaniard still finds it hard to accept that Ducati has chosen Enea Bastianini as Francesco Bagnaia’s new colleague within the Ducati Lenovo Team for this season. A switch to Yamaha therefore seemed the only option, as this is the only factory seat available for the coming season. Both Yamaha and Martin did not deny their mutual interest, but recently at Le Mans we saw the first doubts with Martin. During the French Grand Prix, for example, he suddenly hinted that he would still like to stay with Pramac Racing for another year.
Now that Martin doesn’t seem like a done deal for Yamaha, they will almost certainly aim their arrows at Marco Bezzecchi, twice winner of a Grand Prix this season and currently number two in the championship standings. Whether this is a realistic option, that seems to be the question, but on the other hand, this could just be a step towards a solution in the longer term. It is an open secret that the current Mooney VR46 Racing Team will almost certainly make the switch from Ducati to Yamaha in 2025 and this deal is a first step towards the collaboration between the team of Valentino Rossi and Yamaha.
Should this deal become a reality, Morbidelli could in turn take Bezzecchi’s place within Mooney VR46 Racing and thus remain active not only in the premier class but also as a driver within the VR46 Riders Academy family.
Another option for Yamaha is Toprak Razgatlioglu. The Yamaha rider currently competing in the FIM Superbike World Championship is interested in this, but it also means a risk for Yamaha. Now no one will doubt Razgatlioglu’s talent and no connoisseur will doubt that he will not succeed as a driver in the premier class. The risk is mainly in the time, despite Razgatlioglu’s exceptional qualities as a driver, he will also need time to master the level in the premier class, time that is not really there in the case of Yamaha. In addition, Yamaha is also keen to keep Razgatlioglu on board and see him shine in the production-machine-based world championship in the coming seasons.
In short, the filling of the only available MotoGP factory seat for 2024 is still a question mark and certainly not a done deal yet.
If we then go to the available positions within the Independent Teams, we see that there is room for shifts here as some of the current contracts expire at the end of this season.
Prima Pramac Racing
With Martin preferring a longer stay with Ducati, his only option seems to be a longer stay with his current team. Johann Zarco, whose contract also expires at the end of this season, seems almost certain of the second seat in the team at the moment. However, should Zarco’s performance be disappointing in the coming races, Bezzecchi also seems to be the most obvious successor for this place. However, the chances that it will come to this seem nil, due to the fact that, regardless of performance, Ducati is still very fond of the input of the experienced Zarco in his role as test driver. The Frenchman also does a lot of useful work for the Italian manufacturer during the Grand Prix weekends, something that is regularly at the expense of his own performance, but is of great importance to the factory and the other Ducati MotoGP riders.
Alex Rins will also be active in the colors of the LCR Honda Team Castrol in 2024. It is different for Takaaki Nakagami within the LCR Honda Team Idemitsu. The contract with the Japanese expires after this season, his place may just be taken by his compatriot Ai Ogura. Due to his excellent performance in the Moto2 class, Ogura has regularly been mentioned as the main candidate for this season, but as is known, Ogura’s performance this season cannot be called great, something that was partly caused by a training accident just before the start of the season. the season and therefore missing the first Grand Prix weekends in 2023.
CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team
Within the team of Razlan Razali and Wilco Zeelenberg, no changes seem to be taking place in advance. Both Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez both have a continuous contract after this season.
GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3
The currently injured Pol Espargaró has a contract until the end of the 2024 season, so it is expected that the Spaniard will remain active within the team in 2024. It is different for Augusto Fernandez, the Spaniard who is debuting this season as Moto2 world champion in the class, and has a contract until the end of this season. Fernandez does have an option in his contract for 2024. Despite his fourth place last week in Le Mans, you never know within the Austrian KTM family. Pedro Acosta, who is currently acting in the Moto2 class, is knocking at the door. We now know that KTM & GASGAS Motorsport director Pit Beirer would like to see Acosta as a rider in the Moto2 class again in 2024, but what if the Spaniard receives an offer from another manufacturer? In this case, choices will have to be made, and we now know how that went a year ago.
Gresini Racing MotoGP
Although Alex Márquez only has a one-year contract, his position for 2024 does not seem to be in question. Not only does the Spaniard enjoy the support of the Ducati factory, he also ensured that Spanish sponsor Estrella Galicia 0,0 came on board with the Italian family team. Apart from being satisfied with his performance so far, these two things are of such importance to Gresini Racing MotoGP that they are keen to keep the younger of the two Marquez brothers on board. It is different for Fabio Di Giannantonio, his place within the team could just be taken by Tony Arbolino, the Italian who currently leads the standings of the Moto2 world championship.
Mooney VR46 Racing Team
Luca Marini seems almost certain of his place for 2024. It is different for Bezzecchi at the moment. As we mentioned earlier, the Italian is currently the main candidate to become Fabio Quartararo’s teammate in the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team in 2024. If Bezzecchi does not accept this offer, a transfer at the request of Ducati to Prima Pramac Racing would also be a possibility. Bezzecchi will then sign a contract as an official Ducati factory driver and will be transferred to the team where Martin and Zarco are currently active in 2024. In this case, Ducati will have to make an agreement with Zarco and use him exclusively as a MotoGP test driver from 2024. If the latter is the case, Morbidelli will also be the main candidate in this situation to become Marini’s teammate in 2024.
As already mentioned in the title, these are mainly rumors currently doing the rounds within the MotoGP paddock. But as so often, where there is smoke there is fire….. drawing conclusions is therefore pointless. The first quarters will fall into place in the coming weeks, and we can also say about this …… as soon as one sheep is over the dam, more will certainly follow.
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