A bumper crop of announcements this morning, and though the contents had long been expected, there was still room for a surprise. The announcement that Pol Espargaro would be joining Marc Marquez in the Repsol Honda team had been long trailed, but today we got confirmation that the Spaniard had signed a two-year deal with HRC to race in the factory team, forcing Alex Marquez out. You can read about the possible consequences of that move, and what effect it will have on Marc Marquez, here.
Alex Marquez has some consolation for the demotion, in the form of a two-year deal to race inside the LCR Honda team, for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. But this means that Cal Crutchlow has been forced out of LCR, with Honda choosing to retain Takaaki Nakagami instead. Rumors persist that Crutchlow could go to the Aprilia MotoGP squad for next year, and Dorna would like to keep the popular British rider in the series, as contracts with UK broadcaster BT Sport are up for renewal soon.
The final announcement came at Petronas Yamaha. Franco Morbidelli has been kept on for two years, something which Petronas Yamaha team managers told me they were very keen to do. There had been some expectation that Petronas could announce the signing of Valentino Rossi today, but that may have to wait.
The press releases from Honda and from Petronas Yamaha appear below:
HRC sign Pol Espargaro
Honda Racing Corporation are pleased to announce the signing of Pol Espargaro. The former Moto2 World Champion will join the Repsol Honda Team on a two-year contract. He will join eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez aboard the Honda RC213V. Espargaro is one of the most experienced riders on the grid, having raced in the World Championship since 2006 and with 104 premier class Grands Prix contested.
HRC extend agreement with Alex Marquez
Honda Racing Corporation are proud to announce the renewal of Alex Marquez, extending his current agreement until the end of 2022.
During 2020, the former Moto3 and Moto2 World Champion will race in the premier class aboard his Honda RC213V in the Repsol Honda Team.
After winning the title in the middleweight class, Marquez has a whole season ahead to gain experience and make progress in HRC’s long term project, which sees the 24-year old Spanish rider join the LCR Honda Team at the end of 2020.
HRC would like to extend their thanks to Cal Crutchlow for his diligent and tireless work since joining HRC in 2015. With three wins and 12 podiums, the British rider has been a valuable asset on and off track – a constant source of excellent feedback for the engineers and a key part of developing the Honda RC213V in recent years. HRC wish him all the best in his future endeavours.
Alex Marquez 73
Rider – MotoGP
“I am very proud to announce my renewal with Honda Racing Corporation. HRC gave me the opportunity to arrive in MotoGP and I am glad to join the LCR Honda Team at the end of 2020 and compete in a big team with great experience in MotoGP. I want to thank HRC and the LCR Honda Team for their trust in me to be able to continue in the Honda family and I will work hard to prove their confidence with results. Now, I am eager to start the season in Jerez and I am completely focused to give my best this year.”
"HRC are happy to continue working with Alex Marquez through the learning process in the MotoGP category for the next two seasons. After deep consideration and a thorough analysis of the current situation, we believe Alex has a great opportunity to grow in the premier class with full factory support inside the LCR Honda Team. We believe that by following this path over the next three seasons, we will achieve the results both HRC and Alex look for.”
PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team retains Franco Morbidelli
PETRONAS Yamaha SRT will retain Franco Morbidelli for two years
PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team is pleased to announce that Franco Morbidelli will be retained for the 2021 and 2022 MotoGP seasons.
The Italian rider, who was MotoGP Rookie of the Year in 2018, joined PETRONAS Yamaha SRT in 2019 for the team’s debut MotoGP season.
The year saw Morbidelli make four front row starts and claim seven top-six finishes aboard his Yamaha YZR-M1. In addition to this, Franco was also vital in helping to secure the 2019 Top Independent Team honours for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT, finishing 10th in the riders’ championship with 115 points to his name.
The Malaysian-based team now looks forward to being able to see Franco back in action at the first MotoGP round of 2020 in Jerez (17-19 July).
We are delighted to confirm that Franky will continue with us next year. He is an extremely talented rider and a great asset to the team as we look to build on our rookie season. Franky was always in our plans for the future so it is beneficial for us and him to be able to confirm that he will ride for us in 2021 and 2022 now.
Franky has the potential to reach the top step of the podium and this is what we’ll all be working hard to achieve. We have absolute faith in Franky even before this season has started. We are confident that Franky has what it takes to be competitive from Jerez and know that he will develop and mature in all areas through the years ahead. Franky will provide the team with stability and competitiveness and we can’t wait to be back on track!
I’m very pleased to be renewing with PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team as we had such a great season together last year, working with a great drive to achieve success. I think it’s important for me to continue with the same team, bike and environment going forward as it feels great to work with them. We all work well together and it’s great fun to work with all the PETRONAS SRT crew. I want to thank them for this opportunity that they are giving me as it’s such an honour to ride for them. I will be working hard to give them even more and even better results than we achieved in our first year together. I’m now looking forward to getting racing again to show our potential and I’m just so happy to have the chance to keep on doing what I love to do with a team I love.