It’s been a strange year when it comes to international motorcycle racing, especially in MotoGP. The silly season started early, with some racers getting signed before the season even started. Then a mess of controversies made some contract signings less likely then others. Now, the season isn’t even halfway over, but a new glut of announcements may have ended speculation for the rest of the season.
Ending Silly Season Early?
Yamaha was one of the first factories to sign their 2019 and 2020 riders, and who could blame them? Talent like Maverick Viñalez and Valentino Rossi don’t last on the open contract market for long. Taking a page from Yamaha, Honda quickly signed Marc Marquez for another two years. However, Honda noticeably neglected to sign long time veteran Dani Pedrosa.
Under normal circumstances, Pedrosa’s presence on the open market is not too unusual. Rumors that Honda is looking to ditch Pedrosa come out every year, but this year, the gossip became reality. After failing to produce on the factory Ducati, Jorge Lorenzo’s seat at the big red factory seemed all but lost to him. Then he won Mugello, it seemed Lorenzo was back in favor, and then the three-time world champ announced he would jump ship to Honda. This announcement set off a domino effect.
Suddenly Suzuki announced that Moto3 champion Joan Mir would join Alex Rins on their team in 2019. Danilo Petrucci was chosen to replace Lorenzo at Ducati, and then Andrea Iannone was chosen to replace Scott Redding at the Factory Aprilia Team.
With Tech 3 locking down Hafizh Syahrin to be the teammate to Miguel Oliveira at their factory, very few seats remain open in MotoGP, and none seem to be factory seats. LCR Honda has one seat left for 2019, but with Crutchlow’s factory deal with the Honda, that seat is almost guaranteed to not have the support Marquez and Lorenzo will enjoy. However, Yamaha is expected to have a new satellite team thanks to Tech 3’s departure to the KTM factory. Considering Johann Zarco—who will be riding a Red Bull KTM next year—is fifth in the championship on a satellite Yamaha, such seats could be highly sought after. Rumor says Dani Pedrosa may have already snagged one of those coveted Yamaha satellite seats.
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