It’s only the first pre-season test of the 2024 MotoGP season, but speculation about what next year’s grid will look like is already escalating.
And that’s not just in terms of where riders will go, but also which machinery each team is likely to have in its garage.
That’s because several MotoGP manufacturers are working hard to try to expand their grid presence next year, and there are satellite teams whose contracts are about to expire.
Right now, of course, the grid is dominated by one manufacturer: Ducati.
It holds eight of the grid’s 22 spots - something MotoGP series promoter Dorna desperately wants to change and something a few of Ducati’s rivals could do with changing given the issues they’re facing in terms of both bike development and progressing talent through the ranks with the limited line-ups they currently have.
Prime among those is definitely KTM, considering the well-publicised drama it went through in 2023 trying to find a space for its rising star Pedro Acosta. It was eventually forced to chop team stalwart Pol Epsargaro to make room for him after it bet on being able to secure an extra grid spot for Acosta and signed more riders than it had space for. That’s put the onus on KTM to make sure it has more bikes in the field by 2025.
"If we think we need a third team, we need to go and get one,” KTM’s head of racing Pit Beirer said recently. “If we think two teams is fine, we need to leave it like it is.
"We are in the process, some contracts are up, some teams are looking for a manufacturer. But this discussion is on now, but... also not that simple, because people who are happy and they have a partner, why do they need to change?"
At Yamaha, the issue is less about progressing young talent (even if that’s something it should have one eye on) and more about getting extra data to help fix the troubled M1 bike since the loss of the Petronas SRT team after 2022 meant Yamaha only had its two works entries in the field.
Team boss Lin Jarvis isn’t exactly playing his cards close to his chest about wanting a replacement.
"It's going to be super exciting on the track to watch the races,” he said at the team’s launch at this week’s Sepang test, “and it's going to be super-complex off the track.
"Because there are three satellite teams without contracts signed today for 2025, which is obviously Pramac and LCR and VR46, and then you have 18 or 19 riders without contracts for next year."
It's Yamaha and KTM making all the public moves right now, while Ducati definitely doesn't need more customers, Honda seems to fended off threats to its LCR relationship, and Aprilia is freshly hooked up with American newcomer Trackhouse. But any successful recruitment by KTM or Yamaha is bound to have wider repercussions.
So which satellite teams are most likely to be lured to a new manufacturer for 2025, and who’s definitely going nowhere?
Here’s a look at the state of play.
VR46 Ducati - in demand
The team that has the most rumours surrounding its future. There are currently three manufacturers openly vying for the affections of Valentino Rossi’s squad.
Current supplier Ducati has been laying it on thick in the media about how it’s close to a deal, but team owner Rossi’s long Yamaha history and the team’s own previous connections in the lower classes to KTM mean that there’s attention from plenty of others.
Pramac Ducati - in Yamaha's sights?
Until recently, the ultra-close relationship between the Pramac Racing team and Ducati would have meant that there wasn’t much chance of things changing - but it seems Pramac might be the target of some advances from Yamaha in the coming weeks should its alternative options not work out.
Pramac would be an attractive and experienced squad for Yamaha to team up with should others say no - but Yamaha would need to commit to top-level support to rival what Ducati’s given Pramac for many years now if it wants to persuade the team to switch.
Gresini Ducati - the curveball?
Marc Marquez's new team Gresini renewed its customer deal with Ducati last year, to run until the end of 2025.
There's an argument it wouldn't want to switch even after that given that it knows exactly what it’s getting from Ducati: a year-old bike that’s relatively cheap but that will absolutely start the season with race-winning potential.
But given one of the manufacturers will almost certainly miss out on having its preferred number of bikes next year and given Gresini's track record of success you'd imagine it will be the team to call in that case.
And it's not like a 2025 deal even really precludes a 2025 move if there's an agreement that somehow suits all parties (after all, just ask Gresini's new signing).
LCR Honda - advances resisted (so far)
Team boss Lucio Cecchinello has been loyal to Honda for nearly 20 years, and, at least according to his public statements, he’s not looking to change any time soon.
Increased support from Honda this year should help to sweeten the deal, and despite rivals like KTM hinting that it'd quite like to get involved with LCR (KTM tried to grab LCR last year) that’s unlikely to happen.
Trackhouse Aprilia - going nowhere
Perhaps the only team that’s almost assured to not go anywhere in 2025, new entry Trackhouse Racing has been talking a lot about how perfectly it’s found what it was looking for in Aprilia.
It’s keen to build an even closer working relationship with Aprilia over the coming years. There’s practically zero chance that Trackhouse will have different machinery any time soon.
Tech3 GasGas - probably going nowhere
The same pretty much applies to Herve Poncharal’s Tech3 team and its close relationship with KTM parent group Pierer Mobility Group.
Now running under KTM’s Spanish brand GasGas, long-time Yamaha partner Tech3 is more than comfortable where it is, and it would take something really special (and substantial) to tempt it away. Possible, but unlikely.