Who Will Take Lorenzo’s Spot at Movistar Yamaha?

  • 22/04/2016
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26-year-old Andrea Ianonne (L) and 21-year-old Maverick Viñales (R) seem to have very bright futures in MotoGP racing.

 

With the announcement that Jorge Lorenzo will be moving to the Factory Ducati team next year, of course, Yamaha must fill a seat on its own factory team for 2017. Who are the likely candidates?
Yamaha MotoGP Team Manager Lin Jarvis has already acknowledged he is in talks with Suzuki’s Maverick Viñales and he, along with Valentino Rossi, certainly appreciate that Viñales will not only become a race winner in MotoGP, but likely a future champion. At the same time, Suzuki has made no secret about its desire to hang on to Viñales next year, and will offer him a new contract. Understandably, Jarvis says Yamaha is looking at other options.

Also high on his list must be Ducati’s Andrea Ianonne. Ianonne is still relatively young (although at 26, he is already five years older than Maverick Viñales), and has shown a great ability to battle at the front. Most recently, Ianonne found the podium in Austin, Texas. Ianonne is also a “corner speed” rider, like Jorge Lorenzo, and he should be a good fit for the Yamaha MotoGP bike.

Yamaha clearly has plenty of budget now that the burden of Jorge Lorenzo’s salary for next year has been removed from the team. We think they will try to sign one of the riders we just mentioned, Viñales or Ianonne (a relatively good friend of Rossi).

The interesting thing is that both Viñales and Ianonne are now riding bikes that are competitive, and still improving. Suzuki is one of two teams (along with Aprilia) that is still free to make engine changes during this season, for example. The Ducati keeps improving, as well, and it could easily have four podium positions in the first three races (absent Ianonne’s mistake at Argentina that cost a podium position for himself and his teammate).

So a move to Yamaha by Viñales or Ianonne will not provide as big a step up in machinery as it might have in years’ past. If Suzuki and Ducati make great efforts to keep these two young riders, it is conceivable they will stay with their current teams next year. If so, where else will Yamaha look? The two young riders on the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team would be logical candidates, but Bradley Smith has already signed to ride with KTM next year. That leaves 24-year-old Pol Espargaro.

Pol Espargaro was being groomed for a factory ride at Yamaha, no doubt, but he had a very disappointing year last year. He never seemed to find a rhythm, and his poor results diminished his desirability. This year, he seems to be getting his act together with the new Michelin tires and the new spec ECU … and he is currently fourth in the points. Already in the Yamaha family, Espargaro’s move to the factory squad would be a simple matter, it would seem.

Lin Jarvis says Yamaha will take its time picking Lorenzo’s replacement, so it could be several races, or even months, before a decision is announced. It will be interesting to watch how this plays out.

 

 2016 MotoGP™ Calendar

 2016 MotoGP™ Calendar

 

Thanks for Information motorcycledaily.com

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