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Motorland Aragon Moto2 Test Sees Triumph Make Debut, Folger Make Temporary Return

Two days after the Barcelona round of MotoGP had completed, some of the Moto2 riders were back testing again. At the Motorland Aragon circuit, a number of Moto2 teams gathered for a private test. Alongside them, the Moto2 chassis manufacturers were there for the first roll out of their 2019 chassis, housing the Triumph 765 Moto2 engine and Magneti Marelli electronics.

Three of the current Moto2 chassis manufacturers were there with their test riders. KTM had Julian Simon and Ricky Cardus, NTS had Alex De Angelis, and Kalex had official test rider Jesko Raffin, and to some surprise, Jonas Folger, who withdrew from the Monster Tech3 Yamaha MotoGP team at the start of this year.

The test was important for the manufacturers, as it was not just a chance to try their chassis with the Triumph engines, but also to test them with the Magneti Marelli electronics. The spec Magneti Marelli electronics package is significantly more sophisticated than Superstock package used with the Honda CBR600RR engines currently being used.

The addition of electronic settings to Moto2, along with a more powerful Triumph engine, will make the Moto2 class a better preparation for MotoGP. Having to work on electronics as well as chassis setup will challenge riders and team them more about racing with prototypes, while the different power delivery - with more torque and mid range, as well as more top end power - needs a style which is more like MotoGP, riders having to pick the bike up on corner exit.

Marc VDS rider Alex Marquez was also given the opportunity to test the Triumph-powered Moto2 bike. Speaking to the official MotoGP.com website, Marquez described his experience with the new machine, and the new engine."It was really nice to try for the first time the Triumph engine with the Kalex bike," he said. "It was so nice, also so much more powerful, especially the torque."

That mid range power delivery changed the way the bike needed to be ridden, Marquez explained. "The torque is so nice and it changes the riding style a lot. So you need to prepare the exit a little bit more, and you need to pick up the bike a bit more. I think the category will change completely. Working on the electronics, it's nice to also have the experience for MotoGP. I think riders will be more prepared for MotoGP with the experience. I think for MotoGP the lap times now will also be more close, it will be faster. It will be nice for the category, and also for the Moto2 manufacturers."

The appearance of Jonas Folger came as something as a surprise, though the German rider has slowly been contemplating a return to racing at some point in the future. Folger has been spending time with Dynavolt Intact Moto2 rider Marcel Schrötter, the pair having trained together in the spring. Kalex founder Alex Baumgärtel told German website Motorsport-Total.com that the aim was just to allow Folger to see if he was still enjoying riding motorcycles, and there were no current plans for any further tests in the future.

Folger had previously cut off all contact with MotoGP, and was incommunicado for everyone, including his manager, and Tech3 team manager Hervé Poncharal. But Poncharal revealed that he had exchanged text messages with Folger in recent weeks. Though there is no room for Folger in MotoGP, the Tech3 boss said at Barcelona that Folger should call him first if he wants to make a return. Tech3 has still not completed its Moto2 lineup for 2019. The Forward Racing Team - next year racing an MV Agusta designed by Suter - are also believed to have an interest in Folger.

Alex Marquez riding the Kalex Triumph Moto2 bike at Motorland Aragon
Alex Marquez testing the Kalex Triumph Moto2 prototype

Alex Marquez riding the Kalex Triumph Moto2 bike at Motorland Aragon
Alex Marquez testing the Kalex Triumph Moto2 prototype

Joan Mir riding the 2018 Kalex Moto2 bike at Motorland Aragon
Joan Mir at the private Moto2 test at Motorland Aragon

Alex Marquez riding the 2018 Honda-powered Kalex Moto2 bike at Motorland Aragon
Alex Marquez on the 2018 Kalex Moto2 bike at the private Moto2 test

(Photo credit: the Marc VDS Estrella Galicia 0,0 Moto2 team)

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Confirmed MotoGP Grid For 2019

Below is a table listing all of the officially confirmed signings for MotoGP for the 2019 (and in some cases, 2020) season. These are all of the signings which have been confirmed and officially announced. 

Rider Bike Contract until
Factory Teams    
Movistar Yamaha    
Valentino Rossi Yamaha M1 2020
Maverick Viñales Yamaha M1 2020
     
Repsol Honda    
Jorge Lorenzo Honda RC213V 2020
Marc Márquez Honda RC213V 2020
     
Ecstar Suzuki    
Alex Rins Suzuki GSX-RR 2020
Joan Mir Suzuki GSX-RR 2020
     
Gresini Aprilia    
Aleix Espargaro Aprilia RS-GP 2020
Andrea Iannone Aprilia RS-GP 2020
     
KTM Factory    
Johann Zarco KTM RC16 2020
Pol Espargaro KTM RC16 2020
     
Factory Ducati    
Andrea Dovizioso Ducati GP19 2020
Danilo Petrucci Ducati GP19 2019
     
Satellite Teams    
Pramac Ducati    
Pecco Bagnaia Ducati GP18? 2020
Jack Miller Ducati GP19 2019
     
LCR Honda    
Cal Crutchlow Honda RC213V 2019
     
Tech3 KTM    
Miguel Oliveira KTM RC16 2019
Hafizh Syahrin KTM RC16 2019
     
Avintia Ducati    
Xavier Simeon Ducati GP17? 2019

There are only a few more slots to fill. Avintia Ducati are likely to keep Tito Rabat, while Taka Nakagami is certain to stay at the LCR Honda team with Idemitsu backing.

The future of the Marc VDS and Angel Nieto teams is uncertain, though at least one of them is likely to stay on the grid in some form, to help run the Petronas Yamaha Sepang International Circuit team. Franco Morbidelli has a contract with Marc VDS to race in MotoGP next year, and the chances are that he will remain in MotoGP with the Petronas Yamaha team. Who the second rider will be is yet to be determined.

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MotoGP Potentially Heading To Brazil From 2021

MotoGP could be heading back to Brazil from 2021. Today, Dorna signed a memorandum of understanding with Rio Motorsports, a Brazilian motorsports company, to organize a Brazilian round of MotoGP at a new facility to be built in Rio De Janeiro. If the circuit gets built and the project proceeds to the next phase, it would see Grand Prix motorcycle racing head to Brazil for the first time since 2004.

Though the agreement between Dorna and Rio Motorsports is good news for Brazilian (and South American) MotoGP fans, there is still a long way to go before this could actually happen. The agreement signed is nothing more than a statement of intent, Dorna showing goodwill towards a project that is only just getting off the ground. A circuit has yet to be built, and more importantly, the financing for it has to be found.

If the project does go forward, then Dorna will be delighted to be able to organize another race in South America. Brazil has a long history of motorsports, and a huge interest in MotoGP. Having a track near Rio De Janeiro would be good for Dorna and for the manufacturers, who sell a lot of motorcycles in Brazil and the rest of South America. It would also add a second South American race nearer a major city, rather than out in the pampas, as the Termas De Rio Hondo race is.

Below is the press release announcing the preliminary agreement:


MotoGP™ could return to Brazil in 2021
A new track in the metropolis of Rio de Janeiro looks set to join the calendar from 2021

Dorna Sports is delighted to announce the signing of a preliminary agreement with Rio Motorsports, putting initial plans in place for a new event to join the MotoGP™ calendar from 2021: the Brazilian GP.

The host venue for the event would be a new track constructed in the bustling metropolis of Rio de Janeiro, one of the most famous and vibrant cities in the Americas. If homologated, the circuit would then potentially would join the MotoGP™ calendar as early as 2021 – bringing the world’s fastest motorcycle racing Championship back to Brazil.

“People from Rio have always received MotoGP events with great enthusiasm. We are pleased with Dorna's serious interest in going back to Brazil and their trust in promoting the race at the racetrack we hope will be built in the city. Rio de Janeiro has a vocation to receive major motorsports events, with the same level of expertise shown with major sport and cultural events held in the city,” commented JR Pereira, COO, Rio Motorsports.

“We would be thrilled to see MotoGP return to Brazil and this memorandum of understanding is fantastic news for the Championship and South American fans,” says Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports. “We have a truly global sport, paddock and grid and to add another country to our calendar – especially one such as Brazil – is always something to aspire to. It would be a pleasure for MotoGP to race in a country and continent known for its passion and incredible atmosphere.”

Based in Rio de Janeiro, Rio Motorsport is a company whose focus is to invest and develop Brazilian motorsports. With local and international investors, it has the primary purpose of building and exploring new racetracks in Brazil, taking part in public calls in Rio de Janeiro. Developing a new race track with international standards to replace Jacarepaguá racetrack is a commitment made by Brazilian authorities before the IOC (International Olympic Committee) as the former race track was dismantled to become an Olympic Park for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Jacarepaguá track received MotoGP events between 1995 and 2004.

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Jonathan Rea Signs On For Two More Years With Kawasaki In WorldSBK

The first domino in the WorldSBK Silly Season has fallen. Jonathan Rea has signed on with Kawasaki for two more years, and will remain on a ZX-10R until at least the end of 2020.

Rea's signing with Kawasaki did not come as much of a surprise, after his failure to secure a ride in the MotoGP paddock. Rea had been linked with the Repsol Honda ride in MotoGP, though he was never the highest priority for HRC, and had spoken to other factory-backed teams as well. But MotoGP teams prefer to fish from the pool they know, taking riders from Moto2 rather than considering the talent in WorldSBK.

With Rea signed, other riders and teams in the WorldSBK paddock should start to finish up their negotiations. There are substantial rumors that Tom Sykes could leave Kawasaki, making room for a possible switch by Michael van der Mark. Chaz Davies is likely to continue at Ducati, though he too has expressed an interest in seeking out a good ride in MotoGP. The prospect of the Ducati Panigale V4 is tempting both to Davies, and to other riders in the paddock chasing the second seat in the team, if Marco Melandri either decides or is forced to leave.

Below is the press release from Kawasaki announcing the signing:


Rea And KRT Join Forces Again

Jonathan Rea has signed a new contract with Kawasaki to remain in the WorldSBK championship as an official KRT rider for two more years. This is an agreement that seals the commitment of both the three-time World Champion and the most successful WorldSBK manufacturer of recent years to each other - and to WorldSBK racing.

Rea had several options for 2019 and beyond but has elected to stay loyal to Kawasaki and the WorldSBK championship paddock he has ridden in since 2008. Rea has secured three consecutive World Championships since he joined the Akashi based manufacturer in 2015.

Rea and Kawasaki has been a winning partnership since their first season together, with Rea becoming the most successful WorldSBK rider ever, in terms of race wins, at the most recent event in Brno.

Jonathan’s legendary self-belief is mirrored by his confidence in the future of both Kawasaki’s WorldSBK racing efforts and the increasing profile of WorldSBK racing.

Over the past three-and-a-half seasons Jonathan has enjoyed a wins-per-race ratio of just under 50% since he joined Kawasaki. He is already the most successful Kawasaki WorldSBK rider in history, with his 45 victories taken on either the Ninja ZX-10R or Ninja ZX-10RR.

Re-signing Rea underlines Kawasaki’s commitment to be an integral part of the WorldSBK Championship itself and its desire to continue its development of ever-improving machines for both the marketplace and WorldSBK racing use.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “I am more than happy to continue in these next two seasons with the Kawasaki Racing Team. Since the end of last season we have already started to talk about continuing our partnership, so it’s nice to finalise everything now, so that we can concentrate on the remaining races of 2018. From the moment I arrived at the end of 2014 I was welcomed into the Kawasaki family and since then we have achieved success beyond our wildest dreams. Here is where I want to stay. Of course it feels natural to keep writing this incredible story together, and I want to thank everyone in the Kawasaki Racing Team for believing in me and for this opportunity. Together we will work harder than ever to keep the ZX-10RR at the front of WorldSBK in the future. I have the best team of people around me to ensure that we can continue fighting for the World Championship.”

Steve Guttridge, Kawasaki Race Planning Manager, stated: “Signing Jonathan originally was so cool. The foundation for his dominance was built up very quickly. JR deciding to say with KRT after three World Championships and breaking records is actually even cooler. All those strong relationships can remain in place. It is the same goals and motivations that we share with JR, and the dedicated KRT crew, engineers and team staff. To continue making history together with Kawasaki inside WorldSBK.”

Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager, stated: “We can celebrate that Johnny decides to stay two more years in Kawasaki and running in WorldSBK. It is important that he has decided that WorldSBK is the place that still makes him motivated. I’m sure many fans would like to see him running with the top guys in MotoGP, but we can ask the guys from MotoGP to come here to see the battle too. The level Rea has now is so high and this only will make the level of other riders and manufacturers in WorldSBK increase. All will be forced to give their maximum to beat Johnny, so we all must be happy and motivated. Of course, we all will continue working to improve the package so I’m sure the show will continue. Other riders and manufacturers will need to work hard if wants to have the honour of being a WorldSBK Champion. The show must go on.”

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Joan Mir Signs Two-Year Deal To Race For Suzuki In MotoGP

Joan Mir is to move up to MotoGP next year, and will be racing in the factory Suzuki Ecstar team for at least the next two season. 

The signing had been widely expected, as the name of Mir had been linked to Suzuki for the past month or so. The Spanish youngster is highly rated throughout the MotoGP paddock, and been pursued by Honda and Ducati, as well as Suzuki, according to his manager. 

Mir has been chosen over both current rider Andrea Iannone and veterans Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. Lorenzo had been linked to the ride since early this year, but in the end, Suzuki bosses back in Hamamatsu, Japan preferred to go with youthful potential over an established star. Alex Rins, who will be starting his third season in MotoGP, is regarded as experienced enough to lead the development of the MotoGP project at the start of next season.

The signing of Mir puts Suzuki in a similar position to the one they found themselves in with Maverick Viñales. Viñales was then the hot young rider pursued by one and all, who impressed enough people at Suzuki to be snatched away by Yamaha once a seat there became available. There are unsubstantiated reports that Suzuki have put a mechanism in place to protect themselves against a similar situation developing with Mir, should he meet with the same kind of success Viñales did. In effect, Mir's deal with Suzuki could end up being closer to four years than two.

With Mir filling the second Suzuki seat, all of the factory seats in MotoGP are now taken. Attention will now turn to the Petronas SIC Yamaha project, and how quickly (or whether) that gets off the ground. 

Below is the press release announcing Mir as a Suzuki rider:


JOAN MIR TO DEBUT IN MotoGP WITH TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR FOR 2019 AND 2020

Team Suzuki Press Office – June 11.

Suzuki Motor Corporation is happy to announce Joan Mir as a factory rider in MotoGP with Team SUZUKI ECSTAR for the 2019 and 2020 seasons, partnering Alex Rins aboard the Factory GSX-RR.

Joan Mir is a young talent (20 years old) from Palma de Mallorca, Spain, who has already shown excellent skill and competitiveness in his riding, both in the Moto3 and Moto2 classes. The two-year agreement will allow the Spaniard to debut in the Top Class after only one year in the intermediate class, lining up alongside the already confirmed Alex Rins in the Team SUZUKI ECSTAR garage.

Mir debuted in the World Championship in 2015, at the Australian GP in the Moto3 class, and raced in the same class for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Despite being a learning year for him, in 2016 he managed three podiums with a first, a second and a third place, but most importantly he got the necessary confidence to be absolutely fit and ready the next year to fight for the title. And he did, indeed, succeed: ten victories, two second places and one third place for a total of 13 podiums (with 1 pole position) gave him 341 points and the crown of 2017 Moto3 World Champion.

In his debut year in Moto2, where he is racing now, he has already achieved two podiums (both with third place) in Le Mans and Mugello a few weeks ago and he is currently 5th in the standings.

The signature of Joan Mir as partner to Alex Rins is a matter of continuity in Team Suzuki’s philosophy of continuously searching for young talents to welcome and help to grow. After two years of experience with the GSX-RR and a contract of two more years ahead, Rins can honestly be considered a pillar of the MotoGP project for Suzuki, and his experience will be useful also to the young Joan Mir to get acquainted quickly with the team, the machine and the class.

Shinichi Sahara – Project Leader:

“As a Team we have always tried to look forward to long term development plans, which includes also making some bets on young riders that we feel can be an investment for the future. We did it in our debut year in 2015, we did it again in 2017 when we signed the debutant Alex Rins, who has been confirmed also this year, and we are further confirming this with the agreement with Joan Mir. He is a young talent we would like to see grow and help us to grow the GSX-RR and the team with him. He is now involved in the Moto2 class and we definitely want him to enjoy the championship, but we are also eager to start working with him and see him debut in the top class. We believe in his skills.”

Davide Brivio – Team Manager:

“Joan Mir is only 20 years old now, already a World Champion with an impressive 10 wins last year and he has already proven several skills. He is fierce, he is witty, he is nice and he can be very fast. All the characteristics that we like to search for in a young rider, who wants to join us not only for the prestige of a factory machine in the top class but most of all because he believes in our racing project. Talking to him I realised how much he has a clear mind, how much he liked our Suzuki project and wanted to join us. This has been a great boost for us. Of course, we know very well that he will need time to gain experience and grow with us, but we have full confidence in his potential. Suzuki management encouraged us to pursue the ‘young rider philosophy’ and with Joan I think we found the perfect protagonist for this role. With Alex and Joan we have two very talented riders and our target is to create a strong Team for the future.”

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2019 Provisional MotoGP Rider Line Up After Mugello

With a spate of recent announcements, here is the latest rider lineup for the 2019 MotoGP season and beyond. Rider signings with a question mark are unconfirmed, but likely. Rider signings with a question mark and in italics are unconfirmed and uncertain.

Rider Bike Contract through
Factory teams    
Movistar Yamaha    
Valentino Rossi Yamaha M1 2020
Maverick Viñales Yamaha M1 2020
     
Repsol Honda    
Marc Márquez Honda RC213V 2020
Jorge Lorenzo Honda RC213V 2020
     
Ecstar Suzuki    
Alex Rins Suzuki GSX-RR 2020
Joan Mir? Suzuki GSX-RR 2020?
     
Gresini Aprilia    
Aleix Espargaro Aprilia RS-GP 2020
Andrea Iannone? Aprilia RS-GP 2020?
     
KTM Factory    
Johann Zarco KTM RC16 2020
Pol Espargaro KTM RC16 2020
     
Ducati Team    
Andrea Dovizioso Ducati GP19 2020
Danilo Petrucci Ducati GP19 2019
     
Independent Teams    
Pramac Ducati    
Pecco Bagnaia Ducati GP19? 2020
Jack Miller Ducati GP19 2019
     
LCR Honda    
Cal Crutchlow Honda RC213V 2019
Takaaki Nakagami? Honda RC213V 2019?
     
Tech3 KTM    
Miguel Oliveira KTM RC16 2019
Hafizh Syahrin KTM RC16 2019
     
Marc VDS?    
Franco Morbidelli? Honda RC213V 2019
Alex Márquez? Honda RC213V ?
     
Angel Nieto Team/Sepang-Petronas    
Franco Morbidelli? Yamaha M1  
Dani Pedrosa/Andrea Iannone? Yamaha M1  
     
Avintia Ducati    
Xavier Simeon Ducati GP17? 2019
Tito Rabat? Ducati GP18  

It is uncertain whether the Marc VDS team will continue next season.

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Danilo Petrucci Joins Andrea Dovizioso At Ducati Factory Team

After Jorge Lorenzo's departure for Repsol Honda was confirmed this morning, the factory Ducati team announced that Danilo Petrucci will be moving up to take his place for the 2019 season.

The move had been widely expected, as the factory had an option on Petrucci's contract which expired at the end of June. After Lorenzo's decision to leave, Petrucci was the obvious choice to replace him.

Petrucci's promotion to the factory team is the crowning chapter in a truly remarkable tale of progress up through the ranks. Danilo Petrucci started his racing on production bikes, racing first in the Italian and European Superstock 600 championship in 2007, before moving up to the Superstock 1000 class in 2010 and 2011. In 2011, Petrucci finished second in the European Superstock 1000 class, and won the Italian Superstock 1000cc title with Barni Racing Ducati.

With the introduction of the CRT class in 2012, Danilo Petrucci switched to MotoGP. The Italian raced on the woefully underfunded Ioda Racing team, first aboard an Aprilia-powered Ioda TR003 bike, later switching to a BMW-powered Suter. In 2014, Petrucci raced an ART machine in the Open Class, which the CRT class had metamorphosed into with the introduction of spec electronics. 

The following season, 2015, Petrucci joined the Pramac Ducati team, racing an older version of the Ducati Desmosedici. He made an immediate impression, dropping a lot of weight to prepare for the season, and getting his first podium at Silverstone. Petrucci had a breakout year in 2017, with a total of four podiums that season. So far in 2018, Petrucci has one podium, and is currently sixth in the championship and second best Ducati. 

Petrucci's story is one of hard work paying off, and gambling on the right choices at the right time. The move up to the factory Ducati team is the ultimate reward.

With Petrucci confirmed in the factory team, both the factory Ducati and Pramac teams are now full. Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci will race Desmosedici GP19s in the factory team, while Jack Miller will have a GP19 in the Pramac squad. He will be joined there by rookie Pecco Bagnaia, who moves up from Moto2 this season.

The press release from Ducati announcing Petrucci's arrival in the factory team appears below, and below that, a press release from his existing Pramac Ducati squad congratulating him on the promotion:


Danilo Petrucci to team up with Andrea Dovizioso in the 2019 Ducati Team

Ducati Corse wishes to announce that it has reached an agreement with Danilo Petrucci which will see the Italian rider join the Ducati Team in 2019. The 27-year-old from Terni has therefore been promoted to the factory squad after four seasons in the factory-supported Pramac Racing Team and he will race alongside his fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso, who was recently confirmed for two more seasons.

“It goes without saying that for me, being part of the factory team is a dream come true,” said Danilo Petrucci. “It’s a great honour to become an official rider for the Ducati Team, especially for someone like me who started in Ducati as a production motorcycle test rider. First of all I would like to thank Paolo Campinoti and Francesco Guidotti, who gave me the chance four years ago to race on a Ducati for the Pramac Racing Team. Without them all this would not have been possible. I also want to thank the managers of Ducati and Ducati Corse - Claudio Domenicali, Gigi Dall'Igna and Paolo Ciabatti - who appreciated me first as a person and then as a rider and I really can’t wait to start this new adventure in the factory team. Now all I want to do is to finish the year in the top five in the standings and then start the new season with the Ducati Team.”

Claudio Domenicali, Ducati Motor Holding CEO, added: “First of all I’d like to thank Jorge Lorenzo for all the efforts and commitment that he has made during his time as a Ducati rider and in particular for his outstanding victory last Sunday at Mugello, which will go down in history as one of our company’s legendary racing achievements. Jorge is a great champion, capable of incredible feats, and even though it is sad that he took such a long time to find the right feeling with our bike, we will continue to do everything possible to put him in a position to achieve further victories in the remaining rounds of the season and fight for the world title together with his team-mate Andrea Dovizioso. I wish to give a warm welcome to Danilo, whom we look forward to seeing in Ducati Team colours next year, together with Andrea, and who we feel sure will continue his rapid rise to success.”


"Just one last request: take us on the highest step of the podium".
“A great future with Ducati, Petrux, but your present is still with us! Make us dream!”

It is official: in the 2019 MotoGP season, Danilo Petrucci will ride for Ducati Team and this represents another extraordinary achievement and source of pride for Alma Pramac Racing. It is with great satisfaction and emotion that we wish our Petrux best luck for a successful future with the official team. After Andrea Iannone, Danilo Petrucci is the second rider to wear the Ducati Team colors after working with great dedication and commitment with Pramac Racing.

It will not be easy to see Petrux come out of the door of our garage after the race in Valencia. However, we cannot help being thrilled by the certainty that the most long-lived rider in the history of our team, as well as the one who has achieved the best results, will still be in the box next door.

However, there is still a long way to go before it is time for farewell. We do not want to put pressure on you, Petrux. Just one last request: take us on the highest step of a podium in the 2018 MotoGP season. Just choose one!

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Jorge Lorenzo Signs With Repsol Honda For Two Seasons

In a shock move which emerged in the Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday, Jorge Lorenzo is to partner Marc Marquez in the Repsol Honda team for the next two seasons. As he had confirmed after his victory at Mugello on Sunday, Lorenzo is to leave Ducati at the end of this year and join his third manufacturer in four seasons.

The news came completely out of left field, with all of the talk at Mugello being that Lorenzo would be racing a Yamaha in a team organized by the Sepang International Circuit with financial backing from Malaysian state oil corporation Petronas. But that proved to be a smokescreen, with Lorenzo already having signed a contract to race with Repsol Honda two weeks previously.

There will be much more on the background of this in a story to be posted later today. Here is the very short press release issued by HRC announcing Lorenzo's signing:


HRC sign Jorge Lorenzo

Honda Racing Corporation is pleased to announce the signing of three-times MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo. The Spanish rider will join the Repsol Honda Team for the next two years.

From 2019, Lorenzo will become teammate to four-times MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez: two great champions with great talent and high hopes that will make a stronger team and contribute to the development of HRC.

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Hafizh Syahrin Confirmed At Tech3 KTM For 2019

Hafizh Syahrin is to remain with the Tech3 team for another season. As had been strongly hinted at Mugello, the Malaysian rider will follow the French team as they make their switch to KTM machinery for 2019. 

The signing of Syahrin now means that the two KTM teams - factory and satellite - now have their full complement of riders: Pol Espargaro and Johann Zarco in the factory Red Bull KTM, Miguel Oliveira and Hafizh Syahrin in the Tech3 KTM team. The two factory riders will be with their teams through the 2020 season, while the Tech3 riders are signed only for 2019, though Tech3 is in the practice of giving their rookie riders an option for a second season, allowing them to develop for a year.

The press releases from the Tech3 team and from KTM appear below:


Tech3 proudly announces contract extension with Hafizh Syahrin for one more year

The French squad is delighted to declare that Hafizh Syahrin will open a new chapter together with Tech3 in 2019. Following his late call to MotoGP this year, the Malaysian youngster delivered an outstanding rookie performance, collecting points from his first ever race in the premier class and showing an extraordinary learning curve. Yet, the 24-year old very talented rider and Tech3 are happy to continue their collaboration with high motivation and ambitious objectives.

Hafizh Syahrin

“It’s hard for me to say and to believe. First of all, I have to say thank you very much to Hervé for trusting in me and giving me this opportunity to stay with the Tech3 family and at the same time to join the KTM family. I also have to express a huge thank you to my manager Dato' Razlan, who helped me to achieve this dream arriving in the MotoGP class, plus thank you to KTM for believing in Hervé and in me. I will work hard for 2019 and I’ll be better prepared, as this is not as surprising as this season. I’m incredibly happy to get this chance, I even feel close to cry for joy. Thanks to everybody and especially to Hervé and Dato' Razlan for always believing in me.”

Dato' Razlan RAZALI
SIC Chief Executive Officer

“I’m extremely excited for Hafizh to get this opportunity to ride in MotoGP category for a second year. I must really thank Hervé for the faith that he has in this boy. Hafizh Syahrin’s journey to MotoGP is a fairytale story, it’s something that should be idolized by young Malaysians. When you work hard, when you are patient and focused, you can achieve your dream and that’s exactly what Hafizh is doing. He has attracted a lot of attention, especially from Hervé for this year and his continued faith in him together with KTM, so we appreciate this support from the team very much. As a Malaysian, as a fan, we are incredibly excited, finally, Hafizh will get to ride a factory bike, he’s a factory rider and how often can we say that we have a Malaysian who has a factory ride in MotoGP, so we are very happy and of course we look forward for him to come to Sepang and wearing the new Tech3 KTM colours in 2019.”

Hervé PONCHARAL
Team Manager

“Today is a very special day for me and for the whole Tech3 team! Since Hafizh jumped on our MotoGP bike, it’s been like a dream, every single day, because he’s been very fast and a lot faster than some people were thinking and we’ve been very proud of what he did. I know it was a great achievement for a Malaysian rider to be the first one of his country arriving in the MotoGP class, for his first ever MotoGP race, he scored points and since that day he has been consistently battling for the top rookie spot and apart from that, Hafizh is a very special character. He is a very nice young man, very well educated, very humble, very respectful of everything, hard-working, wanting and wishing to learn a lot, which is what he is doing and a very funny guy, too, a fact I like a lot. Everybody who knows Tech3 a little bit, is aware that I always consider my team my family, I always try to have this family atmosphere in the garage. Hafizh fits in very well and he makes everybody laugh. From almost day one we started to work with him, I wanted to give Hafizh a second year, because year one is important to learn, but the second year is maybe even more important to prove yourself. Clearly, for us all to move to our new project with KTM, where we have the insurance that the four KTM on the grid in 2019 will be the same evolution, it’s going to be a massive boost for Hafizh. He will be on the same machine like Miguel Oliveira, Johann Zarco and Pol Espargaro and this is a great challenge. I’m very proud to take this challenge together with Hafizh, always with the support of Razlan. I think we got the best rider, we could have picked for our 2019 line-up and I’m quite sure that Miguel Oliveira and Hafizh Syahrin will be a strong package of new talented and ambitious riders. Tonight, we are a happy team, because everything is clear and decided, so welcome for another year, Hafizh!”


Hafizh Syahrin will join Miguel Oliveira at Tech3 KTM MotoGP Team 2019

MotoGP Announcement

Hafizh Syahrin will be the fourth rider in the MotoGP line-up for KTM in 2019. The Malaysian has confirmed a one-year contract extension with his current Tech3 team and will join last weekend’s Moto2 winner at the Gran Premio D’Italia, Miguel Oliveira, on the KTM RC16 next season.

The 23 year old rookie, the first Malaysian to compete in the MotoGP category, has caught the eye in his debut campaign. #55 has registered three top-twelve finishes from the six rounds to-date and has impressed the French squad – led by Herve Poncharal - with his adaptation and fast acclimatisation to the demands of the premier class.

Pit Beirer (KTM Motorsport Director): “We are happy that Hafizh Syahrin extended his contract with Tech3. After his unexpected move to MotoGP he has had a decent season so far and is leading the ranking for ‘Rookie of the Year’. Furthermore he is a very professional and friendly young athlete. Together with Miguel Oliveira the rider line-up for our young Tech3 KTM MotoGP Team for the next season is now complete. I also want to express big thanks to Hafizh's manager Razlan Razali for his trust in the newly built structure of Tech3 KTM. We're looking forward to work together in the future.“

Hafizh Syahrin: “It’s hard for me to talk about this, and to believe it! First of all, I have to say thank you very much to Herve for trusting in me and giving me this opportunity to stay with the Tech3 family and at the same time to join the KTM family. I also have to express a huge thank you to my manager Razlan, who helped me to achieve this dream arriving to the MotoGP class, plus thank you to KTM for believing in Hervé and in me. I will work hard for 2019 and I’ll be better prepared. I’m incredibly happy to get this chance.”

Syahrin completes a MotoGP roster that will also include Johann Zarco and Pol Espargaro in the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team.

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Dani Pedrosa Out At Repsol Honda

Dani Pedrosa is to leave Repsol Honda at the end of this season, HRC have confirmed. After 18 years together in all three Grand Prix classes, including 13 in MotoGP, Honda will not be renewing his contract for 2019 onwards.

The move had been widely expected. Rumors that Pedrosa would be leaving Honda have been circulating since Alberto Puig joined Honda as head of the Repsol Honda team. Puig is believed to have wanted to replace Pedrosa from the moment he joined the team.

Where Pedrosa goes, and who will replace him, is still something of a mystery. Pedrosa and the empty Repsol Honda seat are part of a much bigger puzzle which MotoGP Silly Season has become. Later this week, we will be rounding up the latest developments and the state of play.

Below is the press release from HRC:


HRC and Dani Pedrosa to end partnership

After 18 years together across three classes in the MotoGP World Championship, HRC and Dani Pedrosa today announce that their longstanding partnership will come to an end at the end of the 2018 season, by mutual agreement.

Although their paths will diverge, HRC and Dani Pedrosa have enjoyed a successful relationship: since 2006, when the Spaniard joined the Repsol Honda Team, he has earned 31 victories and was runner-up in the MotoGP Championship on three occasions.

Over the years, he has provided very useful information and feedback to Honda for the development of its machines, and at the same time, HRC has given him the best technology and full support on the track.

Yoshishige Nomura

HRC President

"Today is a sad day for me. On behalf of HRC, I want to thank Dani for all his hard and successful work, and to express our gratitude for these two decades together. We also wish him the very best of luck and success. Thanks, Dani."

Dani Pedrosa

"I want to thank HRC for all these years of great success. I have grown not only as a rider but also as a person with them. I will always have HRC in my memories and in my heart. In life we all need new challenges and I feel it’s time for a change. Thanks, HRC."

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