It goes without saying that Suzuki’s decision to leave MotoGP at the end of 2022 has thrown a significant curveball into how the 2023 grid will look.
Both Suzuki riders are premier class race winners, and in Joan Mir’s case a world champion, while uncertainty also remains at Ducati, Yamaha, Honda, KTM and Aprilia regarding their current line-ups, so yes, the entire grid.
While it might not be the first rider signing to be announced, it’s perhaps the biggest as Fabio Quartararo is believed to be 99% sure of staying with Yamaha.
Given he’s the current world champion, leading this year’s standings and out-performing his M1, a huge deal is expected for the French rider.
His team-mate Franco Morbidelli has a deal with the factory Monster Energy Yamaha team to remain there until the end of 2023, however, recent performances have been very poor, and are believed to have opened up the possibility of Yamaha looking elsewhere.
In fact, Alex Rins confirmed after last weekend’s Le Mans MotoGP round that he’s been in talks with Yamaha among other manufacturers.
Yamaha still have to address their satellite team situation for next season as RNF – owned by Razlan Razali, have been rumored to be looking at a switch to Aprilia machinery, which could therefore hurt the chances of Raul Fernandez Tech 3 KTM) and/or Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) coming across from WorldSBK.
While it’s expected that Yamaha will have four bikes on the grid next season, it remains to be seen what a second team will look like, while Rins, Morbidelli, Fernandez, Razgatlioglu and Darryn Binder could be battling it out for just three seats.
There’s little doubt that Quartararo is the main attraction from a rider’s point of view, however, that statement is also true about Ducati from a team’s perspective.
A decision on who will partner Francesco Bagnaia at the factory team is expected at the next round in Mugello, and while early indications suggested Jorge Martin – has allegedly been given a Ducati contract for 2023 – would replace Jack Miller, that now seems to be in doubt.
Instead, the factory Lenovo Ducati seat is thought to be a direct competition between Miller and Enea Bastianini, with the latter winning his third MotoGP race of the year at Le Mans.
With Martin suffering five DNF’s in seven races, four of which were his fault, Bastianini has a great chance at moving up from Gresini Ducati.
Should Bastianini be awarded the factory seat alongside Bagnaia, then either Miller or Johann Zarco would be expected to leave Ducati as Martin would be retained by Pramac in that instance.
Miller to join Brad Binder at KTM?
A move away from Ducati could very much be possible for Miller, and with Miguel Oliveira seemingly on the way out of KTM at the end of 2022 (look for LCR Honda to be an option for Oliveira), then a switch to the Austrian manufacturer makes a lot of sense.
Whether it’s the team’s title sponsor Red Bull which is also a sponsor of Miller’s, or the fact that the Australian’s manager Aki Ajo works for KTM (Moto2 and Moto3), switching to KTM is a move that could not only re-energize Miller, but also KTM who have once again started to struggle as the European part of the championship began.
Joan Mir and Honda destined for MotoGP deal?
Like Rins, Mir is currently a very hot property following Suzuki’s above-mentioned decision to quit MotoGP.
Honda are likely to be the manufacturer that will go through the most turnover for next season, and with Pol Espargaro struggling, signing Mir is in Repsol Honda’s best interest.
Even before Suzuki’s announcement, both Italian and Spanish press hinted that Honda wanted to sign Mir, which has only increased since the Jerez test.
In fact, don’t take our word for it, but instead that of Mir and Repsol Honda Team Manager Alberto Puig as it was confirmed at Le Mans that talks between the two sides had begun.
Marc Marquez is secured at Honda, and should Mir join him which is the expected move, then filling LCR’s two seats will be the next priority. One of those is most likely to involve Moto2 title contender Ai Ogura taking the place of fellow Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami, with the five-year MotoGP veteran either looking at a move back to Moto2 or joining WorldSBK.
For Rins, joining his good friend Aleix Espargaro at Aprilia, a team he’s also confirmed to have had talks with, could be a very realistic possibility as Maverick Vinales is under-performing at the Noale-based team.