Lorenzo only factory rider yet to confirm plans for 2015 and beyond
The time of year for rider contracts to be signed within the world of MotoGP is well and truly upon us with the summer break bringing with it the traditional scramble to sign the top riders while other teams look to sign the stars of the future.
The majority of the factory teams have already confirmed who will be in their garages next year with Valentino Rossi signing a two-year deal with Movistar Yamaha following on from his resurgent 2014 campaign. Repsol Honda have also secured the services of long time Honda man Dani Pedrosa while reigning, and current championship leader, Marc Marquez also signed a new deal with the Japanese manufacturer.
The only rider yet to confirm his plans for next year and further down the line is current Movistar Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo who has been in discussions on his future with the Yamaha team for some months now. The double MotoGP World Champion didn’t shy away either when asked about what was holding him back with one word being the key, ‘Money’.
Lorenzo is a powerhouse in the MotoGP paddock and was the man to beat until the arrival of Marquez. Talks have also taken place between the Lorenzo and the Ducati Team with the Italian manufacturer heavily interested in exploring a possible partnership with the Spaniard. However, with the Italian marque announcing that Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow are set to continue with them, Crutchlow for one year, Dovizioso for two, talk soon fizzled out of a possible move for Lorenzo.
Suzuki are also re-entering the MotoGP paddock in 2015 after a short hiatus and Lorenzo has been linked to a seat there with the team stating that it is looking to sign a high-profile MotoGP rider. Crutchlow was also linked to one of the Suzuki seats. The plans of Suzuki is being looked upon as one of the key pieces of the jigsaw that is rider contracts with a number of different scenarios that could possible emerge depending on what riders sign up for the Japanese company.
While most of the factory seats are taken, a number of satellite teams are also clambering to sign up their preferred rider for next year. The most high profile rider here is Aleix Espargaro with the NGM Forward Racing rider making no bones about his wish to become a factory rider and the Spaniard has achieved results that anyone would find to argue against him getting a chance on full-factory machinery. Espargaro’s next move will surely hang on Lorenzo’s decision for the future. Espargaro has also been linked to a seat in the Aprilia MotoGP team amid rumours the Italian manufacturer could move its plans to race in the premier class ahead by a year.
Espargaro's brother Pol is to remain at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 while there is uncertainty for Bradley Smith with the British rider not achieving the results expeted of him so far this season. The future is also uncertain for Stefan Bradl who is currently riding for the LCR Honda team but nothing has been announced yet for 2015. The rumor mill is also in full swing regarding current Moto3 leader Jack Miller who has been linked to a seat with LCR who could opt to run both Bradl on it's satellite Honda and Miller on a customer bike. Meanwhile, Nicky Hayden has committed staying with the Aspar team in the hopes of a much better Honda RCV1000R customer machine this time fitted with pneumatic valves.
With negotiations still in full swing, statements of intent have been issued by a number of riders with Alvaro Bautista stating his wish to stay with current employers GO&Fun Honda Gresini while Yonny Hernandez wants to stay with the Pramac Ducati team and to secure GP14 machinery for next year while fellow Pramac rider Andrea Iannone could get a third GP15 with Ducati working on a brand new bike for next year. The World Superbikes paddock could be calling for Danilo Petrucci but the Italian said his wish is to stay with his ART Ioda Racing Project team.
MotoGP roars back into action next weekend (8-10 August) at the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix circuit following the summer break.