Zarco, Rins, Espargaro - The Next to Move in MotoGP?

While Johann Zarco is out in Japan, testing the Suzuki GSX-RR MotoGP bike, the 2017 MotoGP rider line up is starting to solidify further. Ironically, it is looking like Johann Zarco will not be the rider Suzuki selects to pilot its factory MotoGP bike alongside Andrea Iannone.

Team boss Davide Brivio is in Japan along with the test team to finalize their plans for 2017. At Barcelona, Brivio admitted to MotoMatters.com that he would be going to discuss Suzuki's choice of rider for next year. The Italian acknowledged that both Aleix Espargaro and Alex Rins were under discussion, and though he declined to state a preference, he did say "It's clear what our choice is."

The announcement that both Aleix Espargaro and Alex Rins will be in the pre-event press conference in Assen is a further sign that an announcement is imminent. The most likely outcome is that Aleix Espargaro will announce he will be joining Sam Lowes in the Gresini Aprilia team next year, Aprilia dropping both of their current riders. Espargaro had multiple offers on the table – including at least one from a factory team in World Superbikes – but appears to have gone for a factory ride in MotoGP.

That leaves the field open for Alex Rins. The Spaniard has been the hot ticket for MotoGP teams, with several teams chasing the Moto2 rider's signature. Rins has made it clear throughout that his preference was to sign with a factory team, despite having the offer of a seat at Tech 3 with a contract directly with Yamaha. Rins is also a more exact replacement for Maverick Viñales, taking on the role of the fast young rookie from Viñales, who is departing for the Movistar Yamaha team.

So what of Johann Zarco? The Frenchman is still holding out some hope of a factory ride with Suzuki, but the omens are not good. The contract he has with Suzuki is to test the GSX-RR MotoGP bike, and then to race the Suzuka 8 Hours for the Hamamatsu factory. There are no guarantees of a seat in the factory MotoGP team for 2017.

That probably leaves Zarco at Tech 3. Monster Tech 3 Yamaha boss Hervé Poncharal has made no secret of his interest in Zarco, and having a French rider in a French team would be a logical match. There is no sign of Zarco reaching a deal with Tech 3 yet, however. That is likely to come after the announcement that Suzuki have signed Alex Rins.


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Comments

Aleix and Aprilia is a fairly logical and sound idea I think given his great success on the ART bike some years ago.  I'm sure his development knowledge and speed will come in handy.  Hopefully Lowes can find some speed but more importantly some consistency.  I'd hate to see him come in and crash at the frequency he has in Moto2.  That's just not a sustainable path for any racer. 

No mention of the current Aprillia riders; Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista

How quickly Hiroshi Aoyama, Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista have fallen from their time on the Hondas.

I'm starting to think its a curse to ride the satellie Hondas. The were all the once considered, the up and coming riders.  

I wonder if Cal Crutchlow talks to Bradl, Bautista and Aoyama, and asks - "what in the hell happenend to us".

Sometimes, its difficult to see riders that you still cheer for, fall down through the ranks of MotoGP :(

 

If this is so (and it does appear to be likely), then where does it leave Aprilia's current riders i.e. Bautista and Bradl?

Both are worthy of a MotoGP spot.

Quite so. I think both of them deserve one more chance. And I'd love to see either of them at Tech3 for a season.

Poncharal never gets tired of insisting that his strong preference as Tech 3 manager is to promote young talents, preferrably rookies coming up from Moto 2. It is highly unlikely that he'll be interested in either Bradl or Bautista (great riders as they both are) unless forced by Yamaha to do so, which seems also highly unlikely.  It is a pity, but B & B's only chance to remain in MotoGP may be Avintia or Aspar, which may not be such attractive options for them at this point in their careers.

 

... both deserve "A" chance.

Both of them were on different spec Hondas for some time, prior, Bautista was on a GSV-R, which no one had been doing much on just before they quit.

Neither has ever had what I'd consider a properly competitive ride in MotoGP yet.  Unfortunately, limited competitive bikes available...

 

 

3yrs each on well spec'd Hondas should have given them time to show form. neither of them have shown that flair or spark that might make you think they're anything other than good riders. It's a rough world in MotoGP and 6yrs should be enough time to show your worth  

Bradl would make a lot of sense for Tech3, considering HP"s recent rant about keeping the sponsors happy with a 'name'.  There's been two Englishmen in tech 3 at the same time so why not two Germans?

Still can't see what makes Rins stand head and shoulders above his contemporaries in Moto 2 that he deserves a factory ride, so a good marketing job has been done by his manager / agent.  I want that guy negotiating my next move!

 

Why the preference of Rins over Zarco at Suzuki?  

One is 20, the other 25 and their performance level is a virtual dead heat. In those cases, you almost always go with the younger rider.

Superbike hopefully... both would bring a nice new mix to the series.

It really seems as though SBK is seen as a bit more of a prestigous series these days.
Dorna has done a good job promoting it, and bringing it up a notch.  I definitely get the impression more GP riders are starting to see it as a good prospect.

Though once you leave the GP circus... you can pretty much kiss any chance of coming back goodbye IMO.

Is about to see himself forced out of the series, which is sad to see such a fast German, who aboard the 2013/2014 RCV has taken a Pole on a satellite Honda.  He'd be wise to do whatever he can to get the other Tech 3 seat as soon as possible, he can stack #'s vs Zarco, they are both Moto2 world champions, however the passport seems to make it an obvious choice for Zarco.

I think the best-case scenario would be LCR to run a 2-man satellite Suzuki team. Iannone + these 3, all get Suzuki rides.

Crutchlow goes to Marc VDS or Tech3, Rabat back to Moto2 or whatver.

I don't understand the lack of interest in Zarco.

Yes he is a bit older but he had a spotless record in 2015, and now looks like he could defend the title in 2016. 

For me, Rins looks like a good rider, but nothing spectacular.
In 2015 it seemed like he would stamp his authority in Moto2 in 2016, but has failed to do so. 
Yes he is young and has many more yeats left to hone his craft, but I think the glorification of Rins is just a little bit too much.

I doubt it. 

Rabat has had a rather unimpresive season so far, but Marc VDS is a family kind of a team, they like t give second chances to their riders.

I don't think they would ditch a rider after just one season.

Marc VdM would be a great sight to see in MotoGP though.

Admittedly I am a die-hard Bautista supporter for many years and I do not intend to bash Espargaro in any way, but I still fail to see any real benefit for Aprilia in choosing Espargaro over Bautista (ignoring Bradl as recent reports strongly favoured Bautista over Bradl if one of them was to partner Lowes). Is it the age thing again? Sponsors? Media attraction?

Granted, Aleix had success in the past with the ART, but the Aprilia is a completely different machine now and past success does not automatically translate to a good adaptation to the new bike. Although I appreciate his obvious speed, keeping up with and sometimes beating his hyped-up teammate, he still too often lets his emotions get the best of him on and off track and unnecessarily throws the bike into the scenery. Especially his emotional outbursts and up&down performances would worry me if I were a team manager. Considering that this bike is still in the evolution phase and that Lowes as a Rookie is taking the other seat next year, it would be more logical to have a more (emotionally) consistent and decently fast development rider on the other side of the garage, no?

Through his two years of slogging it out on the underpowered, underdeveloped Aprilia Bautista completely threw himself into the project from the beginning (in stark contrast to erstwhile teammate Melandri), rode incredibly consistent, always extracted the best the machine could offer, at times even rode way beyond expectations and all the while never spoke a bad word about the bike, development or team. I know all this doesn't count for much in what is essentially a very expensive game with toys for big boys where you're only as good as your last race, but honouring that kind of commitment by kicking you out in favour of a rider who doesn't necessarily bring more to the team than you do (at least not that I can see) is quite a letdown.

Then again, armchair racer speaking. What do I know.