The rumour mill is working overtime ahead of this month’s season opener at Qatar as speculation grows about who will be riding where in the coming seasons.
Repsol Honda, the Factory and satellite Yamaha teams all have settled line-ups for 2016, however, the 2017 season promises to see a hive of rider movements, with many of the current contracts expiring. Lorenzo and Rossi look certain to remain with Yamaha, but rumours are growing that Lorenzo isn’t happy about how the team has managed his championship tussle with team-mate Rossi and has already signed a contract with Ducati. If this is the case, expect the hugely talented Alex Rins to take his ride.
As always, the future of the Satellite Yamaha riders will depend on their results. We expect the consistent and underrated Bradley Smith to remain with the team, but Pol Espagaro could find himself out on his ear.
As could Dani Pedrosa at Repsol Honda. Marquez looks set to extend his contract with the Honda Factory team, but Pedrosa is expected to leave the team, rejoining ex-crew chief Mike Leitner to lead the KTM project. He will be racing alongside Johan Zarco.
The HRC Factory bike is one of the hottest and most coveted seats in MotoGP, and Maverick Vinales looks set to continue the all Spanish line-up for the Repsol backed outfit. The former Moto3 champion and MotoGP rookie has continued to show impressive form in his short career and looks like a natural replacement for Pedrosa, a rider capable of taking on Marquez, and beating him. Expect Pol Espargaro to fill his seat, forming an all-Espargaro line-up at Suzuki.