The Mugello weekend began with the news that Aprilia has re-signed both Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales for the next two seasons, swiftly followed by an announcement that RNF will leave Yamaha and run RS-GP machinery from 2023.
Both decisions have big implications for the rider market, Aprilia becoming the first factory team to confirm its line-up for next season, while Yamaha’s downsizing to just a factory team leaves no room for World Superbike champion Toprak Razgatlioglu.
Meanwhile, over at KTM, Brad Binder’s current team-mate Miguel Oliveira has been told he might only be offered a move back to Tech3 for 2023.
‘Miguel Oliveira isn’t having any of it’
“There’s a big bunfight going on, where KTM are trying to shovel one of their number one men back into Tech3 and he’s turned around and said ‘no chance!’ Miguel Oliveira isn’t having any of it. He’s said ‘I’m not going to Tech3’,” said former grand prix rider and British champion Huewen.
“I don’t think we’re seeing from Tech3 what we might have done this year if they’d got one rider that was fully experienced in MotoGP. They’ve got two new guys and, despite the fact they are quality guys, they probably don’t quite have the experience to make the changes and adjustments needed to get the best out of the factory KTMs Tech3 are running.
“It’s a bit of a nightmare and you can almost understand why KTM might want to get Miguel Oliveira back in there to sort it all out. But Miguel is having none of it! He says he’s talking with other people.”
With Oliveira’s future unclear, Suzuki’s Alex Rins, Ducati’s Jack Miller and Repsol Honda’s Pol Espargaro are among the other names being linked with the remaining Red Bull KTM team seat.
Huewen is clear about who he thinks will get the nod.
“Jack Miller for KTM, that’s pretty much seeming to me like a bit of a done deal. I’ve got a real feel for him going to KTM. Everything I’m hearing, it sounds like that’s pretty much sorted out,” he said.
‘I think this is the last chance for Marc Marquez’
Marc Marquez was the biggest talking point of the weekend after the eight-time world champion announced he is to step away from racing and yet undergo another operation to try and increase mobility and reduce pain in his right arm.
Is it Marquez’s final roll of the dice in terms of getting back to the level he once was? Huewen, Crash.net MotoGP editor Pete McLaren and podcast host Harry Benjamin give their thoughts.
“29 years old. Eight grand prix World Championships behind him. An injury that isn’t right. He isn’t able to ride the bike how he wants to ride. And that makes a massive difference to a man that rides a motorcycle like no one else rides a motorcycle… I think this is the last chance. If this doesn’t work out, it’ll be the end of Marc Marquez’s career.”
With uncertainty hanging over Marquez’s long-term MotoGP future, Huewen also raises the question of who, if anyone, is the next ‘alien’.
“We’ve run out of aliens. Who else would you consider to be an alien on today’s grid? They’re all pretty damn good. There’s no doubt about that. But there’s none that you look at and go, ‘How did he do that?’ Like Marquez, Lorenzo, Stoner, Freddie Spencer and Kenny Roberts if you want to go back a bit further.”
The cancellation of Finland is also discussed, but will the season now be held over 20 rounds or could another event fall away?
After Keith’s Catalunya preview – and following a rare weekend of success in terms of podium predictions at Mugello – the trio name their top three for Sunday’s race in Barcelona.
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