Silly season: 2022 a huge year for MotoGP™ contracts

by | Feb 22, 2022 | Aprilia, Ducati, Honda, KTM, motoGP News, Suzuki, Yamaha

Silly season: 2022 a huge year for MotoGP™ contracts

Only four riders have their futures secured beyond 2022 and there is plenty of talent waiting in the wings

2022 promises another cracking year of MotoGP™ action, with 21 Grand Prix dates ensuring it is bigger and better than ever. As if the allure of World Championship glory wasn’t enough to motivate riders, the coming months will also see a number of them, and their teams, sweat about their futures with the overwhelming majority of riders still without a confirmed seat from next season.

What about those who do?

Just four premier class riders can sleep easy without having to worry about contracts. Marc Marquez will remain with Repsol Honda until 2024 at least. In 2020, shortly after sealing his eighth World title, HRC and the Spaniard took the unusual step of agreeing to a four-year deal; something which we hadn’t seen before in the sport. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) also have deals in place until 2024.  

"We want Pecco, and he wants Ducati" - Tardozzi

More recently, Francesco Bagnaia renewed his contract with Ducati Lenovo Team for another two seasons. It came as little surprise, with the 2021 Championship runner up expected to spearhead the Bologna bullets’ title charge in the coming year.

The transfer merry-go-round

For the rest of the grid, a nervous few months lie ahead. 2021 World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) has everyone waiting on tenterhooks whether he will continue his journey with Yamaha, or head for pastures new. The progress of the YZR-M1 has hindered hopes of him signing a new deal, with its top speed a major stalling point, though Team Director Maio Meregalli insists that the Frenchman is the Iwata factory’s most pressing matter: "Fabio is our first priority. We are in contact with his team almost daily and we will try to find a way to reach an agreement as soon as possible. It’s true that he has received proposals, but we are confident and doing what we can to secure him for the next two or more years."

Is a Yamaha exit on the cards for Fabio Quartararo?

Despite the assured words, Meregalli admitted nothing is certain until Quartararo’s name is signed on the dotted line: “Until he signs, the door is open. For sure he will evaluate all the proposals he’ll receive and then he’ll choose the best."

Should Quartararo leave, does that open the way for 2021 WorldSBK World Champion Toprak Razgatlioğlu? The Turk has been linked with a switch to MotoGP™ for some time now, with Meregalli admitting that a Test with the M1 is in the pipeline this year. If Razgatlioğlu does make the move, it’s likely to be with Yamaha, but it’s unclear whether that’s with the factory or satellite team. WithU Yamaha RNF’s Andrea Dovizioso is aiming to rediscover his old form, but at 35 years, is by far the grid’s eldest statesman. On the other side of the garage, Darryn Binder has pressure on his shoulders after moving directly from Moto3™. Both riders will be fighting for their MotoGP™ careers over the course of the year.

Yamaha boss confirms Toprak Razgatlıoğlu YZR-M1 test plans

Mir’s future remains up in the air

2020 World Champion Joan Mir is another rider of pedigree who has reportedly been attracting interest from across the paddock. The main rumour is about an exciting potential link up with Marc Marquez at Honda, with Pol Espargaro the one to lose out, though those reports are unsubstantiated. When posed with the question by journalist Jack Appleyard, the Suzuki rider played coy: "I feel comfortable at Suzuki, we have achieved great things together, but you never know..."

"You never know" - Mir reacts to Honda contract speculation

For Alex Rins, he’ll likely need to improve upon a single top three finish last season if he wants to secure his Suzuki future.

Will a stacked Ducati reshuffle the deck?

With eight bikes on the grid, there’s no shortage of talent at Ducati. Bagnaia’s future is safe, but what about his teammate Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team). The Aussie ended his five-year wait for another MotoGP™ victory, going back-to-back in Jerez and Le Mans in 2021, and you’d imagine he would need to launch a sustained title attack this season to stave off the challenges of Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) and Enea Bastinaini (Gresini Racing MotoGP) for the factory seat. The former took one win, three podiums and the Rookie of the Year title in his debut season while the latter finished on the podium twice with a two-year-old Desmosedici.

Elsewhere at the Borgo Panigale factory, Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) and Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) have plenty to prove, as do rookies Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) and Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) who hope to ensure their premier class careers don’t fall at the first hurdle.

Riders under pressure

As mentioned, Pol Espargaro’s seat with HRC may be in jeopardy, but if he can continue his pre-season form, it would be no surprise to see him remain with Honda. In the LCR garages, Takaaki Nakagami's (LCR Honda Idemitsu) long wait for a premier class rostrum may count against him, particularly with the form of Moto2™’s Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) behind him.  After a promising two podium rookie season, 2021 was a challenging year for Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol), and his performances will be closely monitored by team boss Lucio Cecchinello.

The burgeoning talent within the KTM ranks may also put some pressure on Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). Raul Fernandez and Remy Gardner (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) are looking to make their mark in MotoGP™ in 2022, while Moto3™ World Champion Pedro Acosta’s (Red Bull KTM Ajo) stock continues to rise after impressing during the pre-season Tests.

A settled Aprilia seems the way forward

2022 could be a big year for Aprilia. Aleix Espargaro delivered the Noale factory their first MotoGP™ podium at Silverstone last season while the singing of Maverick Viñales has given them race-winning quality on a competitive RS-GP. If they can help the Noale factory to become regular top six finishers and to a couple of podiums, it’s unlikely to see either rider in anything other than Aprilia colours in 2023.

With transfer silly season already in full swing, the opening rounds already have an added significance with everyone out to secure their futures with so much talent waiting in the wings. It’s all set for Qatar on March 6th, make sure you catch all the action on VideoPass with

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