Until the 2013-2014 biannual period, when Valentino Rossi returned to Yamaha and Marc Márquez made his appearance in the premier class, changing the usual dynamic of renewals prevailing in MotoGP , the month of August used to be the date on which the signings and team changes every year.
Specifically, the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic , traditionally installed in the second half of August, was the usual framework in which the teams and drivers announced their future, a kind of negotiation window that marked the news of the following season. , both sportingly and mechanically, as it was the usual setting for the test in which the following year’s prototype was tested.
That tradition changed when Rossi, after his fiasco at Ducati , returned to Yamaha, and Honda discovered that they had found a white blackbird like Márquez, capable of winning the title in his first two courses in the senior class. Then came the rush to announce the renewals sooner and sooner, so much so that some came a year or more ahead of time, infecting the rest of the grid with that eagerness to anticipate events.
This season we have already seen many novelties in the rider market, the signings of Jack Miller for KTM, Alex Rins for LCR-Honda or Alex Márquez for Gresini; or the renewals of Fabio Quartararo by Yamaha and Aleix Espargaró by Aprilia, among others.
However, there are a good number of seats left to cover and we are going to try to break down what news will be announced this weekend, and what will not.
What will be announced in Austria?
-According to KTM’s sporting director, Pit Beirer , this weekend the Austrian manufacturer will announce one of the two pilots of the Tech3 satellite team. Everything indicates that this name will be that of Pol Espargaró, who after two seasons at Repsol Honda, returns to the factory where he spent four years, although now with the second team.
-Another renewal that could become official this weekend in Austria, almost certainly, is that of Johann Zarco with Ducati, to continue racing for another year in the Pramac team. That would close one of the positions of the first satellite team of the Italian house, waiting to know who is accompanying him, if Jorge Martín or Enea Bastianini.
Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
-Pol Espargaró ‘s announcement may lead to another novelty that will be announced this weekend. KTM wants the Tech3 team, next year, to race the bikes painted in the colors of manufacturer Gas Gas , based in Spain and owned by Pierer Mobility. The CEO of the brand ( Stefan Pierer himself, the top boss of KTM) wants to register Gas Gas as a manufacturer, while the championship, for the moment, only allows him to do so as a sponsor. The Austrians want to put pressure by showing as soon as possible a first sketch of the decoration, which was already seen in passing in the last test, three weeks ago, of the KTM test riders at the Red Bull Ring. We will see if MotoGP allows it.
-The big news, without a doubt, of the weekend will be the reappearance of Marc Márquez in the paddock, who hasn’t set foot since the Italian Grand Prix at the end of May. The one from Honda is not going to get on the bike, but he will travel to Spielberg to hold meetings with those responsible for Honda and with the technicians, in order to see the progress of the bike for 2023. Marc also travels to Austria because Red Bull is one of his main personal sponsors and he must do his part. Márquez will offer a press conference on Thursday, and it is possible that he will give some clue about the future.
-Once KTM announces the signing of Pol Espargaró, Miguel Oliveira would, in theory, have a free hand to be able to make public his signing by the RNF-Aprilia team, with which, everything indicates, he will race in 2023. However, there are two small obstacles for that to happen. The first is that KTM, very cleverly, will not yet officially close its four-rider line-up for 2023 by announcing Pol. The other is more aesthetic, as Aprilia wants to announce the satellite team line-up in one fell swoop, and not rider by rider. Although that can change if the second seat is dilated a lot.
What will not be announced in Austria?
-What is not going to be announced for sure in Austria this weekend is the definitive name of the second rider of the Tech3 team, even though the decision that this second bike will be for the Australian Remy Gardner has practically been made. However, for contractual reasons, KTM does not want, for the moment, to make it clear that Raúl Fernández is out of the lineup for 2023, achieving the freedom to decide his future away from that structure. Therefore, we will have to wait to find out who is, officially, the fourth driver of the Mattighofen house.
-Nor will we know this weekend who is the second pilot of the RNF-Aprilia team, the one who will form a pair with the Portuguese Oliveira. Everything indicates that it will be Raúl, but the contractual ins and outs are so complicated that time is still needed to unravel them.
Joan Mir, Team Suzuki MotoGP
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
-The name of the rider who will complete the official Honda team next season is the worst kept secret in history. Everyone assumes that Joan Mir, the 2020 MotoGP world champion, is the chosen one. Despite the fact that Pol Espargaró will make it clear that he is no longer at Honda by announcing his agreement with KTM, something that could clear the way for HRC and Mir to announce their agreement, there are some details that indicate that this weekend will not be the time of the announcement . The first thing is that Marc’s presence at the Red Bull Ring and his press conference would overshadow any announcement regarding the second rider. The other reason is that those responsible for Honda are in no hurry to make the signing of the Majorcan public, arguing that before that they have other problems (the bike) to solve.
-Another seat that will still take a few weeks, or months, before being confirmed is that of the second driver of the LCR-Honda team, which already announced a few weeks ago the signing of Alex Rins , from Suzuki. The place, now in the hands of Takaaki Nakagami, is decided directly by Honda Japan, and although there is a lot of interest in promoting the young Ai Ogura, the Japanese runner has not yet made up his mind, which could give the current tenant another year of ‘life’ from that position.
-‘The great decision’ of Ducati, which must choose between Jorge Martín and Enea Bastianini to promote him to the official factory team together with Pecco Bagnaia to replace Miller, will not be announced in Austria. As Paolo Ciabatti said, the decision will be made at the end of August and everything indicates that the statement was literal and will wait until the 31st, the Wednesday before the San Marino Grand Prix, to make it public.
-Despite the fact that he is going to make an appearance at Spielberg and that he will offer a press conference that promises to be massive, Marc Márquez will not announce this weekend the possible date of his reappearance at the handlebars of the RC213V of the Repsol Honda team. Marc will undergo a medical examination at the end of August and it will be the results of that examination that determine the possible terms of his reappearance.