2014 MotoGP Rider Line Up Announced: 24 Rider Grid Still Leaves Many Questions Unanswered

Though most of the contracts were settled some time ago, there were still a few question marks on the 2014 MotoGP grid. The official entry list released by the FIM today answers some of those questions, but the answers it gives may yet turn out to be wrong. The list features 11 entries to be run under the Factory rules, which means 20 liters of fuel, 5 engines per season and the freedom to use proprietary software on the spec Magneti Marelli ECU. The remaining 13 bikes will be run as Open entries, which gives them 24 liters of fuel and 12 engines per season, but forces them to use the Dorna-controlled spec software on the Magneti Marelli ECU.

The 2014 season looks set to follow the pattern established in 2013, with Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo likely to dominate. Of interest is the fact that Marc Marquez has been entered with number 93, rather than the number 1 which the world champion is allowed to use, but this may yet change before the start of the season. Marquez would dearly like to retain 93, but Honda is keen to see him run the number 1 plate.

Whether Valentino Rossi can challenge the leaders again will depend in part on how he meshes with his new crew chief Silvano Galbusera, and on whether Yamaha can improve the braking stability of the bike. Rossi will also fear the reduction in fuel, as Yamaha were already struggling to make the bike last the race on 21 liters. 

Much attention will be focused on the newcomers, with Pol Espargaro and Scott Redding both stepping up from Moto2. Espargaro made an impressive debut at the Valencia test, ending the three days a second and a quarter behind Marc Marquez, and not far off the times of Valentino Rossi and Alvaro Bautista.

Among the Open entries, all eyes will be on the battle between the Honda RCV1000R production racer and the Yamaha FTR open class entry. Nicky Hayden and Aleix Espargaro will be the benchmarks, with the first meeting going to Aleix on the Yamaha. The 2013 M1 is already a strong package, and the Valencia test showed that the spec software did not appear to slow the bike down too much. The RCV1000R looks to be slower than expected, suffering most of all from the lower revs the engine runs. Top speed figures showed that the Honda was over 10 km/h down on the factory bikes, where the difference with the Yamaha was negligible.

The provisional entry lists are still a long way from being final. Although Niccolo Canepa appears on the list as riding for Ioda Racing, Canepa has already told GPOne.com that he will not be racing in MotoGP next season, and Ioda issued a press release saying that no agreement had been reached with Canepa, and the search for a second rider continues. The provisional list shows Ioda's choice of machinery as to be announced, but the choices are between the Aprilia ART and Ducati Open projects. The final choice will depend on the financial package available, with Ioda one of the poorer teams in the paddock. If an agreement cannot be found, Ioda can always race the Suter BMWs they already own, though the bike has had no development this year.

The PBM team is also listed as participating, but Paul Bird is believed to be holding off on entering depending on support. PBM, like Ioda, are fishing for stronger support from Aprilia in a bid to make themselves more competitive. This has become a financial necessity, as Dorna will now only be offering the top 22 riders financial support, leaving the weakest team without support. The idea is to send weaker teams back to Moto2 at the end of each season, and tempt the strongest Moto2 teams into stepping up into MotoGP. On the basis of results from 2013, PBM and Ioda are the teams in the danger zone.

Looking at when rider contracts run out, it is clear that 2014 will be a crucial season for everyone. 16 riders have their contracts up for renewal at the end of the season, including both factory Yamaha and both factory Honda men. The summer is likely to be a very busy period for riders and managers, as they look towards their options for 2015. 

The provisional 2014 MotoGP entry list:

No Rider Nationality Bike Factory/Open Contract until
Factory Yamaha
46 Valentino Rossi ITA Yamaha M1 Factory 2014
99 Jorge Lorenzo SPA Yamaha M1 Factory 2014
Repsol Honda
26 Dani Pedrosa SPA Honda RC213V Factory 2014
93 Marc Marquez SPA Honda RC213V Factory 2014
Factory Ducati
4 Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati GP14 Factory 2014
35 Cal Crutchlow GBR Ducati GP14 Factory 2015
Tech 3 Yamaha
38 Bradley Smith GBR Yamaha M1 Factory 2014
44 Pol Espargaro SPA Yamaha M1 Factory 2015
LCR Honda
6 Stefan Bradl GER Honda RC213V Factory 2014
Gresini Honda
19 Alvaro Bautista SPA Honda RC213V Factory 2014
45 Scott Redding GBR Honda RCV1000R Open 2015
NGM Forward
5 Colin Edwards USA FTR Yamaha M1 Open 2014
41 Aleix Espargaro SPA FTR Yamaha M1 Open 2015
Pramac Ducati
29 Andrea Iannone ITA Ducati GP14 Factory 2014
68 Yonny Hernandez COL Ducati GP13 Open 2014
Cardion AB
17 Karel Abraham CZE Honda RCV1000R Open 2014
70 Michael Laverty GBR PBM/ART Open 2014
  To be confirmed   PBM/ART Open 2014
9 Danilo Petrucci ITA Aprilia ART/Ducati Open  
59 Niccolo Canepa ITA Aprilia ART/Ducati Open  
7 Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Honda RCV1000R Open 2014
69 Nicky Hayden USA Honda RCV1000R Open 2014
Avintia Blusens
8 Hector Barbera SPA FTR Kawasaki Open 2015
63 Mike Di Meglio FRA FTR Kawasaki Open 2014


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Interesting reading. Thank you...

Of the top riders out there, it seems it comes down to:

1. If VR#46's results don't improve, how many races before he announces his retirement? If they do... Go Vale!

2. #99... He raced hard and fast in 2013 and was quite amazing. If he continues this in 2014, fine. If the Honda's murder him, I see discontent with Yamaha and a switch to Honda being touted?

3. #93... C'mon, we all want to see what he has learned in 2013 and see if he can use it to devastating affect in 2014! Will he get comfortable enough to "toy" with other riders yet? (perhaps too early)...

4. #26... Like most people, I would LOVE to see Dani win a title. The underdog next year, but wouldn't it be great if he came out strong from race 1 in Qatar?

Apart from that, looking forward most to seeing how the customer Honda and Yamaha bikes do against each other. Nicky, Pol, Scott and Bradley are the ones I'm most interested.

Roll on 2014!

but I have a bad feeling about: a) the Honda that Nicky is on; b) that 46 will only get slower; c) 99's ability to keep racing that hard on a mildly improved Yam compared to the Honda; d) 26's not going to be able to challenge 93 and lastly; e) 93's toying with people is going to end in someone getting seriously hurt - again.

On the up side I am looking forward to seeing if Smith can raise the bar and what can the new boys from Moto2 do?

Hey, don't forget that MM93 said earlier that he crashes in practice, finds the limit and then races. That approach is why he won the championship, not "toying" with people. He's smart, fast learner, and looking for the bike's limits.

I request all of you take this post in the spirit in which it has been made. I am referring to Valentino Rossi here and I do not believe that there will be any improvement. It was one thing saying that the Ducati was a beast that wouldn't handle but it is another thing to say that the Yamaha also is not cooperating with him. Where are those legendary skills of development that he and Jeremy Burgess have arrogated to themselves? This is Yamaha and both have pointed out in the past that they made the difference, so why not now? Sylvano Galbusera, I feel sorry for him. I think he has rushed in where angels fear to tread. No experience in MotoGP in not going to make him better than Burgess. I think he is the new guinea pig in Rossi's latest experiment. He will be the reason that Rossi will cite for his failures in 2014.

On another note, I do not see Marc Marquez destroying the field. He has had the legendary beginner's luck on his side (I say this in the context of his not having been hurt despite so many crashes and I think the law of averages will catch up with him) and this year he will find it difficult to achieve what he did last year. All in all it will be interesting to see how he goes in 2014, because I do like the bloke and would like to see him do really well.

I don't think Rossi would bother blaming Galbusera for any lack of results, and I'm sure (or at least hope!) Galbusera laid it out for Rossi when he accepted the offer that "Look we'll try our best but no throwing me under the bus if you're not winning". If Jorge isn't winning, then Rossi will have an easier time blaming the bike (this is assuming he's going to blame anyone/thing, anyways).

Beginner's Luck wins a race, not a championship. For the crashes, the same could have been said about Jorge, I don't know about you but I remember the ChupaChip crash helm hitting tracktop fast, hard, and often, along with the rest of his body. Marquez is an incredibly fast learner, at the beginning of the Moto2 season he was an absolute disaster for crashes. However, he learned quick, and if you regard his MotoGP debut, I'd argue he has had comparatively less crashes.

Kind Sir,

I have laid out the context of the beginners luck in the context of his crashes and no serious injury coming from those. That is all it is about and has nothing to do with his riding or learning skills. And despite Lorenzo crashing and breaking bones, ultimately he was only four points behind Marquez. Dani Pedrosa also had bad luck and if good luck smiles on these guys and just a bit of bad luck puts its spell on Marquez, things could be different. But I hope Marquez comes out on top. This is not about saying that he won only on the basis of luck. I am not being argumentative and I can well see the point you are making, both about Rossi and Marquez.

Hey Satish IMHO I would be calling the critique of Rossi by the Sundry and the Gentry as blowing a broken trumpet for so long that even the trumpet has threatened to quit. The legend of Rossis development was created in the days when development meant making changes to certain mechanical aspects which in turn would affect handling, acceleration, grip and so on.There was far more scope for changing setups that could lead to a victory or at the very least a much improved performance. Riders used to be half-decent mechanics themselves.

Today the electronics have taken over to such an extent that you can barely make a noticeable difference if all you have is a screw driver and a spanner.Today the rider has to tell exactly what problems he is facing to his Race Engineer/electronics guy.That guy has to be clued in to the Riders style, telemetry and so on.

Things have changed dramatically and there has not been a single rider after Rossi who has been called an expert bike developer simply because it is no longer possible to develop a bike the way Rossi used to because of the electronics.

[I speak from personal experience as i have been fiddling around engines for a long time and the new breed of motorcycles just dont give you the independence that i used to have earlier. I can give a crazy analogy but David would not like it ;) ]

Hello Praveen,

The comments that Burgess and Rossi made about bike development were in 2010 and I assume that electronics had kicked in big time by then. Burgess said that Lorenzo was benefitting from the data that went from Rossi's side (despite the wall) and that was the basis for the beginning of the feud. To put it candidly, Rossi has earned my disrespect over the years. I have gone on from being an unashamed fan of his to being his critic because of his attitude. But he is better than Biaggi.

P.S: Are you from Bangalore and do you also restore old Jawas and Yezdis? If you are the person that I am referring to we could just have a common friend.

Next year's silliness is going to be off the chart!
Assuming Rossi continues to flounder, who gets the 2015 Yamaha ride? Pol would be an obvious candidate, but he's T3 in 15. Cal may be ruing his insistence on signing for two years. Do either of these guys have an "Eject!" clause that can be exercised?

With all the worry about fuel how long will it be before Yamaha switch Rossi over to an 'open' class M1 Yamaha?
You have NGM Forward working hard on the standard ECU and software maps for the M1 engine already, will there be a tipping point where a potential 3 litres of extra petrol outweighs the factory software?

The title will be contested only by factory riders all other bikes are inferior and it doesn't matter who rides them they ain't gonna win. Can anyone prove me wrong? , The stats don't lie. This of course leads to a boring racing series as no one else has a chance to win just the top 5 or so the rest just make up the numbers.

Galbusera is in a comfortable position. If Rossi finds his motivation and speed, he's a genious. If not, it's "proof" that Rossi was on the decline and just refused to admit it.

On another subject, the extra fuel might make things interesting in some racetracks. We've seen Rossi, for one, run out of fuel on the cool off lap more than once this year. I can't see things improving with one less liter of fuel. Forward must be working flat out to transfer their set of parameters, developed for the Kawasaki engine, to the M1 engine. Edwards said what they had with the Kawa was way better than what Yamaha had slapped into the standard ECU. The ECU and the software are standard, but how a team configures all the available parameters is what can make the difference. I don't think Yamaha would agree to switch Rossi, whose size and style demand more fuel consumption, to "open" class, but I think Rossi will be extremely upset if he sees Espargaro, or Edwards, pulling away, engine at full tilt, when Rossi's power is being toned down to make it to the finish line. Should be interesting.

AE41 on the Open Yamaha challenging VR46 on the anemic Factory Yamaha will be my focus at season's opening. I am not surprised at the lack of performance of the Open Honda at all, rather the other way around re Yamaha going ahead and sticking the Tech 3 engine into their Open bikes. This excites! Yamaha could lose the Factory battle yet win the Production battle. (Side note - too bad Hernandez isn't a rider that can give the Open '13 Ducati a good performance measure against the Factory '14...that could have been interesting too. I wish either Dovi or Cal were on a '14 Open Ducati for one more compelling sub plot!).
Alike most of us apparently I see Rossi as wrapping up his racing career very soon, and have a bitter taste re ditching Burgess. However, there is much at play and it is understandable. I don't adhere to jumping into blame and fingers, and DO see that Yamaha has built a bike that insists on a "wheels in line" front end focused rider like JL99. This isn't Rossi (and Burgess's) bike any longer. They can't develop this bike away from that framework. Electronics have come more into focus but I see it more in that light. If Rossi were on a Honda right now he would be battling with DP26 and grabbing podiums as THAT bike can be developed to suit him. Is there another rider that can take the Factory Yamaha alongside the front 3?
Better yet, will that even matter as the 20L 5 engine B.S. falls away and Open class bikes are the standard? I think there will be 3 strong non-Honda riders where there is now just JL99. And I offer every ounce of hope that we will have another couple of manufacturers getting it right in the Open class.

I may have missed it, but I did not see if the Open bikes get softer tires as the CRTs were able to run in 2013.

Also, I hope there is more to the Rossi/Burgess split than Rossi needing to try a new direction. When Rossi went to Yamaha from Honda, Burgess could had his pick of any available rider. Same when he left Ducati. Also, from the chatter, it seems as Burgess was a current Yamaha employee working with Rossi's team. Why couldn't he stay if he wanted and worked with another Yamaha team?

No decision has yet been made on the softer tires. The Yamaha (especially) makes plenty of power and so will have no need of the softer tire. Maybe some of the other Open bikes will, but decisions are due to be made based on the results of testing. I expect an announcement either in December, or after the Sepang tests.

As for Burgess, he was ready to retire. He is still under contract to Yamaha, but he was ready to retire as soon as Rossi was. He won't be going to work with anyone else, except perhaps in a luxury role of consultant or advisor, where he gets paid a lot to turn up occasionally. The good news is that leaves him more time to write a book about his time in Grand Prix racing.