With the announcement that Cal Crutchlow is to move to the LCR Honda team for 2015, making space for Andrea Iannone to move up to the Factory Ducati team, the beginnings of a MotoGP grid are starting to emerge for 2015. Both Repsol Honda seats are confirmed, as are both Factory Ducati riders and Valentino Rossi at Movistar Yamaha, with Jorge Lorenzo expected to announce a deal with Yamaha very soon. In the satellite teams, only Pol Espargaro is confirmed at Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, as is Crutchlow at CWM-LCR Honda.
With those names in place, we can start to draw up a list of who will be where, and who could be where for 2015. We have broken that list into three separate tables, based on the certainty of their deals: riders with confirmed contracts; riders and teams with deals that are expected to be confirmed very soon; and deals which are likely to happen, but are still not certain. The confirmed deals speak for themselves, those riders will definitely be on those bikes in 2015 (or longer - the contract date is in the last column of the table). The interest is in the expected and possible tables, where things are still far from certain.
Jorge Lorenzo is certain to stay at Movistar Yamaha, the question is more when his contract will be announced. At Gresini Honda, Scott Redding will stay on for another year and is almost certain to take over the full factory RC213V currently being ridden by Alvaro Bautista. The only details which remain to be debated are the choice of brakes and suspension: Redding would like to switch to Ohlins and Brembo, Gresini are keen to retain their deal with Nissin and Showa. Though nothing has been officially announced, it seems certain that Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales will form Suzuki's MotoGP team in 2015, while Yonny Hernandez looks a shoe-in to retain the Open bike at Pramac Ducati. The Avintia team will switch from Kawasaki to Ducati, with Hector Barbera almost certain to stay.
Aprilia's participation seems certain to go ahead in 2015, though the question of who will ride for them remains open. There are strong rumors that Marco Melandri will make the switch with Aprilia, though they could leave Melandri in World Superbikes, and bring Eugene Laverty back into the fold to race in MotoGP. Alvaro Bautista looks like a solid candidate for the Aprilia ride, given his extensive experience in MotoGP, and with Aprilia in the past.
As for the rest of the riders - the second Tech 3 bike, the other Open Hondas at LCR (now looking certain to take place), Gresini, and the second seat at Aspar, the two Forward Yamahas - it is hard to determine who will go where. The most desirable ride is surely the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha bike, and Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal had been looking at young riders to take the place of Bradley Smith. The problem is that most of the young talent is already under contract, Herve Poncharal told me: Maverick Viñales is off to Suzuki, Alex Rins and Alex Marquez will be going to Moto2, Jonas Folger is locked into a contract in Moto2, and Jack Miller is in the hands of HRC. That makes Bradley Smith a more attractive prospect once again. "We will for two more races, and see if Bradley can fulfil his potential," Poncharal said. There was no rush to make a decision. "We can wait until Silverstone if we have to."
At Forward, the odds are good that Stefan Bradl will take one of the two free slots, though Bradl is also being linked to the open seat at Pramac, as is Danilo Petrucci. Jack Miller's future is still undecided - the Marc VDS Racing team have accepted that he will not be riding for them in 2015, but are still pursuing the claims of the contract they hold with the young Australian - with HRC keen to put Miller in MotoGP, with strong backing from Dorna. Miller also has a slot with the Pons Moto2 team, which would be the logical place for him to land.
There are a couple of names waiting in the wings from the World Superbike championship as well. Eugene Laverty is being strongly linked to rides in MotoGP next year, and Jonathan Rea is also a strong candidate. Rea is rumored to have been chasing the LCR Honda ride, but lost out when Crutchlow grabbed that seat. From Moto2, Mika Kallio has strong interest from several Open class teams, even stronger than last year. A ride at Aspar or Forward could be possible for the Finn, though his future is far from decided.
With the paddock set to reconvene at Indianapolis in a couple of days' time, negotiations will move to a higher gear. Many satellite riders had contracts forbidding them to open negotiations for next year before 31st July, and Indy is the first opportunity to hold face-to-face meetings discretely. The Red Bull Indianapolis GP is likely to see several deals closed, and a provoke further flurries of speculation.
|Monster Tech 3 Yamaha|
|Drive M7 Aspar|
|Jorge Lorenzo||2016 (option to leave after 2015)|
|Go&Fun Gresini Honda|
|Monster Tech 3 Yamaha|
|Alex De Angelis?|
|Go&Fun Gresini Honda|