The satellite bike situation for the coming five-year contract period in MotoGP is starting to crystallize. Today, KTM and Tech3 announced that the French team would be staying inside the stable of the Austrian factory for the entire five years of the MotoGP period, from 2022 to 2026.
That Tech3 would stay with KTM was hardly a surprise: the French team won their first ever premier class race last season with Miguel Oliveira, and the team is an important part of KTM's talent structure, which brings riders through all the way from the Red Bull Rookies to MotoGP. But the fact that it is a five-year deal is unusual, satellite team contracts in MotoGP are usually only for two to three years.
With Tech3 signed up for 2022, that means that KTM will be on the grid with four bikes for 2022. Of the remaining satellite squads, Pramac is certain to remain with Ducati, playing a similar role to Tech3 at KTM, and the LCR squad will almost certainly continue with Honda. Petronas is also almost certain to stick with Yamaha for 2022 and beyond as well.
That leaves the Gresini and VR46 teams. Aprilia is keen to supply a satellite squad, for which Gresini is the most likely candidate, having so much experience with the Italian factory. VR46, meanwhile, is likely to take over the Ducatis from the departing Esponsorama squad. But there is a possibility that Gresini could take Ducatis as well, with Ducati supplying a total of eight bikes in MotoGP. "It's something we have done before," Ducati Corse sporting director Paolo Ciabatti told Italian media. Decisions are likely to be made in the next four to six weeks, with VR46 hoping to make a decision as early as the next race at Le Mans.
The press release from KTM appears below:
KTM extend beneficial MotoGP™ partnership with Tech3 KTM Factory Racing until 2026
There will be four full-factory KTM RC16s on the MotoGP grid for the next five seasons after KTM renewed their association with the Tech3 KTM Factory Racing team and one of the most successful satellite squads in Grand Prix.
Tech3 turned ‘orange’ for 2019 where they helped promising rookie Miguel Oliveira impress with several top ten results. The team and the Portuguese star were able to graduate to the role of Grand Prix winners in 2020 when Oliveira triumphed in Austria and Portugal: bringing Tech3 their first garlands in the premier class.
The 2021 season marks exactly twenty years since the team first entered the premier class of the FIM Grand Prix World Championship. Tech3 was founded in 1990 and enjoyed title success in the old 250cc category before making the jump. They have had representation through the Grand Prix divisions but didn’t scale the heights of MotoGP until Oliveira’s breakthrough achievement last summer.
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director: “We are very proud to make this announcement of a new five-year deal with Tech3. It is a very important strategic move for us as part of our long-term strategy in the sport. We already agreed our participation with Dorna for another five years and it was vital to have that foundation and stability in MotoGP by renewing our agreement with Tech3. For the last few years we have been building-up our structure and now it provides an incredible path from Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup, Moto3, Moto2 and then four valuable places in the premier class where we want to succeed. With Hervé and the Tech3 crew we have the ideal partner and we see the whole operation as part of ‘one team’. It’s more than a pleasure to say we’ll be able to attack the next five years together.”
Hervé Poncharal, Team Principal, Tech3 KTM Factory Racing: “I feel very proud, very privileged and very honored to announce our renewed partnership with KTM. I think we will be the first independent team to announce a five years agreement with a manufacturer in MotoGP history. This is quite an achievement and it also highlights how strong our relationship is and how well the first three years of our partnership have been working. I believe the best is yet to come. We share the same values, the same target, which is to never give up and be ready to race. So now that this deal is done, signed, confirmed, let’s work even harder on the 2021 season and of course let’s think how to be best prepared for 2022. I really believe this organization has all the ingredients to be winning and it’s just up to us to put all the pieces together to make it work and chase victory at every single round.”