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MotoGP

MotoGP 2024: Who’s going where after latest rider market twists

by Simon Patterson
9 min read

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The first key piece of the 2024 MotoGP rider market fell into place with last week’s news that Alex Rins is Yamaha-bound (despite having a Honda contract).

But there is plenty more to come – and probably very soon too, as both KTM (which has its home race in Austria next) and championship contender Marco Bezzecchi headed home from last weekend’s British Grand Prix with big decisions to make.

Those two moves – where the KTM group positions the already-signed Pedro Acosta in an already full rider line-up and whether Bezzecchi swaps to Pramac to get a 2024-spec Ducati or stays at his current VR46 team – will unlock the rest of the market. Once they’re finalised, expect to see a whole flurry of rider movement happen very quickly.

But while they might be the most important pieces of the jigsaw, it doesn’t mean that they’re still the only two key parts – and if this season has taught us anything already, it’s that the mere existence of a contract doesn’t mean too much!

Repsol Honda

Under contract: Marc Marquez, Joan Mir

Joan Mir Marc Marquez Honda MotoGP

Considering Repsol is the team that everyone was buzzing about just a few weeks ago given the rumours that both Marc Marquez and Joan Mir were considering leaving, it seems that speculation had cold water poured on it by the lawyers.

As all parties involved seem to have realised that the financial penalties for breaking their deals one year early would simply be too much to even bear thinking about.

With other seats closing rapidly, it very much looks like everyone here is now set to stay put for what promises to be another miserable year unless Honda makes some radical changes to its 2024 RC213V.

KTM

Under contract: Jack Miller, Brad Binder

Linked: Pedro Acosta

Jack Miller KTM MotoGP

There was never much chance of movement in KTM’s factory line-up given that Brad Binder has thrust himself into regular win contention and new signing Jack Miller, only six months into his deal, has more than proven his worth.

The only possible thing that could have displaced one of them (most likely Miller) was the threat posed by wunderkind Acosta on his hunt for a MotoGP seat, but it looks increasingly likely that he’ll find a seat at satellite squad Gas Gas instead.

Aprilia

Under contract: Aleix Espargaro, Maverick Vinales

Aleix Espargaro Maverick Vinales Aprilia MotoGP

It’s a testament to the changes within Aprilia that the team that once saw five riders on two-year deals depart over only five years hasn’t even been mentioned this silly season.

Both Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales are happy and performing well, and their bosses at Noale are more than happy with them. With Espargaro telling The Race earlier this year that 2024 could be his MotoGP farewell, though, Aprilia needs an eye on the longer-term market.

Ducati

Under contract: Pecco Bagnaia, Enea Bastianini

Enea Bastianini Ducati MotoGP

There’s perhaps a faint chance that we could see one more huge upset delivered by MotoGP’s dominant factory this silly season – but it would be a truly huge shock if it was to displace Enea Bastianini to make room for Bezzecchi.

It would be a mercenary move given that Bastianini – a title contender on a satellite Ducati last year – has spent most of the season injured through no fault of his own, but a swap is something that seems to be allowed by their contracts.

However, the odds are small and the far more likely option is that Bezzecchi finds a factory Ducati elsewhere and that Bastianini is instead made to fight for his seat in 2024 in more normal circumstances.

On the other side of the box, defending champion Pecco Bagnaia is going nowhere.

Yamaha

Under contract: Fabio Quartararo, Alex Rins

Out: Franco Morbidelli

Fabio Quartararo Yamaha MotoGP

The signing of the season so far has been Yamaha’s move to pry Rins out of his LCR Honda contract and pick up perhaps the foremost expert in developing an inline-four MotoGP machine still racing today.

He brings a wealth of Suzuki knowledge, and he escapes a torrid time on the leg-breaking Honda, meaning it’s a win all round.

And while new team-mate Fabio Quartararo might be hoping that he could find something better than the current Yamaha M1 for next season, he’s locked in tight (for now) and will certainly be partnering Rins.

LCR Honda

Likely staying: Taka Nakagami

Likely joining: Johann Zarco

Out: Alex Rins

Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda MotoGP

With the absence of Rins and seemingly a change in Honda strategy to (finally) focus on fixing its bike, experience is triumphing over everything else in 2024.

And LCR looks set to snap up a load of it in the form of Johann Zarco, once he gets formally displaced from his current Pramac Ducati ride by Bezzecchi. Zarco’s been open about the prospect of heading to Honda, and it seems all but a done deal.

On the other side of the garage, Taka Nakagami might have bought himself another year of respite both because of his MotoGP experience and because of the lack of realistic replacements.

Honda Moto2 rider Ai Ogura, groomed for years to take over from Nakagami, seems to be in talks with other teams in the middleweight class, likely ending his time with Honda as he tried to avoid the RC213V in its current guise at least.

Tech3 Gas Gas

Under contract: Pol Espargaro

Linked: Pedro Acosta

Likely out: Augusto Fernandez

Pol Espargaro Tech3 Gas Gas MotoGP

The Pierer Mobility Group seems to have a problem at KTM’s sister team Gas Gas, one that comes from trying to squeeze three riders into a two-bike team.

It’s still fighting with series promoter Dorna to try to get two more grid spots, but it seems that the prospect of that is now slim, meaning someone in the KTM/Gas Gas quartet is going to lose out to make room for Acosta.

Pol Espargaro seems confident that he’s safe despite missing so much of the season so far due to injury, but on the other side of the garage, Augusto Fernandez is smashing it in his rookie year.

Realistically, both will have their KTM contracts honoured. Espargaro could end up in a testing role and maybe Fernandez could be temporarily demoted to Moto2 again. Right now the scales seems to be tipped in favour of Espargaro keeping a 2024 race seat.

Expect an announcement – and a resolution to the conundrum – at the next round of the championship at the Red Bull Ring, home soil for both KTM and its title sponsor Red Bull.

CryptoDATA RNF Aprilia

Under contract: Miguel Oliveira, Raul Fernandez

Miguel Oliveira RNF Aprilia MotoGP

If it wasn’t absolutely certain that Aprilia’s satellite team was keeping its contracted number one Miguel Oliveira for next year, his podium fight and eventual fourth placed finish at Silverstone (ahead of factory rider Vinales) cemented his place good and proper.

There have been rumours that, with RNF unhappy with his performances so far this year, Raul Fernandez might not get the same luxury. But that speculation (which, in his defence, always came from outside the team not within) has also gone quiet of late, and a best ever MotoGP finish of his own and a first ever top 10 at Silverstone won’t have hurt his chances either.

VR46 Ducati

Likely staying: Luca Marini

Linked: Franco Morbidelli

Likely out: Marco Bezzecchi

Luca Marini VR46 Ducati MotoGP

Whoever is set to be Luca Marini’s team-mate next year, one thing is sure: it’ll be one of his fellow VR46 Academy riders. It’s not completely certain yet exactly which one it’ll be, but given his comments of late it’s looking increasingly likely that it’ll be Yamaha refugee Franco Morbidelli who takes over from Bezzecchi.

Bezzecchi wants a factory bike, something that Ducati says it can’t give him within the VR46 structure. To get it, he has to move to Pramac, and all the noises he made last weekend at Silverstone hinted towards that move starting to look more and more likely now.

Ducati, however, is more than happy to take Morbidelli should Bezzecchi step up, completing a rather happy reshuffling for all concerned.

Pramac Ducati

Under contract: Jorge Martin

Linked: Marco Bezzecchi

Likely out: Johann Zarco

Johann Zarco Jorge Martin Pramac Ducati MotoGP

While he might not have been happy to miss out on a factory team spot for 2023 to Bastianini, since then Jorge Martin has leaned into his role at Pramac and really made the most of it, and he’s not going anywhere even while he might continue to covet an upgrade for next year.

A factory Yamaha deal was floated his way and rejected, hinting that money isn’t the primary motivation, and he’s still got plenty more winning to do.

Part of the reason for his contentedness is the standard of machine he’s on, lining up on a 2023-spec factory bike – and that’s exactly what Bezzecchi is chasing as he looks to make the next step up on the MotoGP ladder and ditch his year-old VR46 machine, in a move that most likely will be announced at home at Misano next month.

Ducati has been open that that’ll mean no space for Zarco, but with the Frenchman already close to finding a new home, the loop completes itself nicely.

Gresini Ducati

Likely staying: Alex Marquez

Linked: Augusto Fernandez, Jake Dixon, Tony Arbolino, Marc Marquez

Likely out: Fabio Di Giannantonio

Alex Marquez Gresini Ducati MotoGP

Without a doubt this is the remaining seat with the most interest in it. And it’s officially just one seat now with Silverstone sprint winner Alex Marquez being confirmed for 2024 – as expected – on Wednesday night.

There’s a veritable smorgasbord of names linked to Gresini for next year, thanks in large part to it being both available (given Fabio Di Giannantonio is almost certainly being moved aside) and, as Bastianini displayed last year, competitive. That makes competition fierce and, while some names have more chances than others, we’re starting to see the candidates whittled down.

There’s still a rumour that won’t quite go away that perhaps instead of sending Augusto Fernandez back down to Moto2, KTM will place him with Gresini – but it’s a rumour that’s gone somewhat quiet of late.

There’s also speculation (without much substance, it seems) of Marc Marquez being linked to a seat alongside his brother – but honestly, it may well be a case of wishful thinking and crossed wires rather than anything that’s actually happening.

More likely, it’ll come down to a battle between Moto2 frontrunners Jake Dixon and Tony Arbolino – but with Dorna keen to see more nationalities on the grid rather than simply another Italian, it might be that the three-years-younger Arbolino has to wait for his (inevitable) time in the premier class.

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