The few more jigsaw pieces for the MotoGP 2017 season have finally fallen into place ahead of the Italian Grand Prix this week, with four rider announcements following the re-signing of Dani Pedrosa to Honda at the beginning of the week.
Valentino Rossi announced he was to stay with Yamaha at the start of the 2016 season, which then led to the Chinese whispers starting over who was to be the Italian’s team-mate as early as March.
Following this news we then heard that reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo was to move over to the red side from 2017 as he signed with the factory Ducati, in what was one of the worst kept secrets of 2016. This then resulted in speculation of who was to replace the Spaniard in the Movistar Yamaha team, with the two favourites being Dani Pedrosa or Maverick Vinales.
However speculation was finally put to a halt as Dani Pedrosa kept his loyalty to Honda and re-signed for two years with HRC on Monday 16th, meaning by 2018 he will have been a factory Honda rider for 13 years.
This announcement then sparked a flood of new contract announcements, the second being Andrea Dovizioso to stay at Ducati on Tuesday 17th as the Italian explained he was to continue developing the Desmocedici with the Italian factory.
Ahead of Thursday’s Italian GP press conference it was revealed that two of the final three factory seats were decided as Maverick Vinales signed for the factory Yamaha team, resulting in Suzuki annoucning Andrea Iannone was to ride in blue for 2017.
Yamaha and Vinales are yet to publish an official comment, but when asked in Thursday’s press conference the 20 year old explained that it was a tough decision but he feels it will be a really important part of his career and he feels he will do a lot of growing up but is sure to add he was grateful to the trust he received from Suzuki.
Despite Yamaha’s lack of comment, Davide Brivio at Suzuki explained how thrilled he is to have an Italian join the team at Suzuki: “We are happy to have enrolled Andrea in our Team for the next two years. He is one of the top riders in MotoGP™ and he is also very passionate and motivated; which fits into our racing philosophy. Our technical project is continuously improving since our debut in 2015 and we are working hard to make our GSX-RR very competitive so that it can fight consistently close to top and victory as soon as possible. We wanted a rider that could help Suzuki continue its road to the top. Andrea is a fast rider who has the hunger for success and his riding style could suit our machine’s characteristics, therefore giving us good hopes for a positive partnership. Being in his fourth year in MotoGP™ he’s also an experienced rider from which the whole Team will benefit.”
Iannone was also asked about the move in the pre-race press conference. He explained he was very happy and he felt it was a very important signing, as he’s the first rider to have signed with Suzuki. But he appreciates the support he has he has received from the Italian factory.
This mix-up in the premier class will certainly add another angle to the 2017 season and with a seat left at Ecstar Suzuki as well as new team KTM, it will be interesting to see who fills in the final pieces of the jigsaw, without even thinking about the satellite rides. But hopefully now we can just get back to the racing this season?