As the Grand Prix paddock heads to Valencia to assemble for the last race of the year, the rider line ups are starting to be finalized for the 2013 season. The MotoGP line up is drawing very close to completion, with just a few CRT seats remaining to be filled. Today it was confirmed that Hiroshi Aoyama has officially signed to race with the Avintia Blusens team in MotoGP, taking the place of Colombian rider Yonny Hernandez. The move had been anticipated for some time, but a press release was issued today formalizing the situation. Aoyama will line up alongside Hector Barbera in the BQR team, both men continuing to contest a Kawasaki-powered, FTR-built CRT machine in the MotoGP class.
The situation in the support classes is much more open, with many seats still left to be filled. Two of them are already spoken for, however. A press release today announced that young British rider John McPhee has signed to race in Moto3 with the Racing Team Germany squad for 2013. McPhee is to take the place of Louis Rossi, who departs the team to race in Moto2 with Tech 3. McPhee will be joined by young Australian prodigy Jack Miller, who is currently racing in Moto3 with the Caretta Technology team, though the contracts are yet to be signed. Miller has made strong progress in his first year in Moto3, under the watchful eye of veteran Australian racer Damo Cudlin.
Below is the press release from the Racing Steps Foundation announcing McPhee's signing with Racing Team Germany:
McPHEE TO JOIN RACING TEAM GERMANY MOTO3 GP SQUAD FOR 2013
Racing Steps Foundation rider set to replace Moto2-bound Louis Rossi
Racing Steps Foundation rider John McPhee (Oban, Argyll), is joining Racing Team Germany for the 2013 Moto3 World Championship campaign.
The RSF - which has backed the 18 years-old Scot since leaving the British 125GP series in 2010 - has signed a one-year deal with the Zwickau-based team for its protégé to replace Moto2-bound Grand Prix winner Louis Rossi.
McPhee - who has raced in Dorna's CEV Buckler series in Spain in the 125GP and Moto3 classes over the last two years - is in the throes of completing the tail-end of the 2012 World Championship Moto3 season with Caretta Technology.
He stepped in at short notice to replace the Italian squad's injured Alexis Masbou at Aragon in September with five races of the 18-round season to go and contests the final 2012 round at the Valencia Grand Prix on Sunday (November 11).
"Naturally I'm delighted that the RSF has secured this ride for me to continue in the World Championship next year," said McPhee. "RTG is a competitive team which has taken Rossi to his maiden Moto3 GP win and into the top half of the rider standings.
"So this is a fantastic opportunity for me for which I'm extremely grateful.
"It will be a tough year, for certain" he added. "I'm under no illusions about that. But standing in for Masbou at Caretta, along with the wildcard rides I did earlier in the season, has given me a pretty good idea of what to expect and how to handle it.
"To say I've learned an enormous amount in a short space of time with Caretta is a massive understatement. They've given me a valuable leg up and I'd like to thank them and the RSF for providing me with the chance to ride with the team.
"Hopefully I can do that by producing a strong result for them at the season finale at Valencia this weekend."
RTG, which runs FTR Hondas, has yet to announce its second rider.
"We're pleased the RSF and John are signing to race with us in 2013," said RTG boss Dirk Heidolf. "It will be a strong combination, I feel.
"We've watched John for some time and been impressed with his approach and attention to detail. He's disciplined and does a very good job of dialling himself and his bike in over race weekends.
"Obviously he's been on a steep learning curve over the last few weeks and hasn't had the best of luck. This, of course, is reflected in his results. But he showed very convincingly that he has the ability to make the most of his chances when he took himself to the front in the wet at Brno.
"As a wildcard entry with only a little Grand Prix experience, that impressed me a lot.
"In 2013 our job will be to provide him with well organised teamwork and a competitive bike that will give him the confidence to produce that kind of ride in many races, not just one."
McPhee will have to wait to try out his RTG FTR Honda until the first pre-season test, the date for which has yet to be announced.
He completes his 2012 season in a week's time when he returns to the Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana for the final round of Dorna's CEV Buckler series. He is currently fifth in the rider standings.
The race will be his final competitive ride with the RSF-backed KRP squad with which he has raced in the 125GP and Moto3 classes in the UK and Spain since 2010.
RSF founder Graham Sharp said the step up to a full season's ride in the World Championship was a natural career progression for McPhee.
"When we decided to add motorcycle racing to our remit at the end of 2009 we said our number one objective was to progress a British rider all the way through to MotoGP and this is a significant step towards that goal.
"Our first move was to forge an alliance with Mark Keen's KRP team which has done a fantastic job in developing John as a rider to the point where he can now hold his own at Grand Prix level.
"Mark and the team will continue to bring on our other riders in the CEV Moto3 series in Spain but the time is right for KRP to hand over the baton to RTG for the next chapter of John's career.
"If everything goes to plan, I'm certain John and the team will produce some respectable results together. RTG is a strong and well-respected squad which, with former 250cc GP rider Dirk Heidolf at the helm, knows how to develop young riders as well as run a Grand Prix team."