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27 days ago
By motogp.com

2022 MotoGP™ silly season: what do we know so far?

VR46, Rossi’s future, Gresini Aprilia satellite and more - it’s speculation aplenty as next year’s jigsaw puzzle begins to build

Tags MotoGP, 2021

We might only be five rounds into the 2021 MotoGP™ season but already there’s a lot of noise about how the 2022 grid is shaping up. Big decisions are going to be made in coming weeks about some of the hot silly season topics, but what are those subjects, and what are the possible outcomes? Motogp.com have decided to have a little delve into some of the main talking points.

- VR46: DUCATI OR YAMAHA?

And one of those major talking points at this stage of the campaign regarding silly season is what manufacturer Valentino Rossi’s (Petronas Yamaha SRT) VR46 team will run with in 2022 and beyond. At Le Mans, The Doctor confirmed it’s 50-50 between Ducati and Yamaha (Moto.it), and a decision is going to be made very soon on that front.

 

It’s safe to say the VR46 manufacturer decision is going to be at the epicentre of some potentially huge changes to the 2022 grid, and we shouldn’t have to wait too much longer to find out VR46’s destiny in MotoGP™.

- ROSSI'S FUTURE: RACE OR RETIRE?

A question on everyone’s lips. Does the nine-time World Champion continue racing in 2022, or does he retire at the end of this season? At this stage, ahead of Round 6 of the year at Mugello, not even Rossi knows. The number 46 told Indonesian MotoGP™ broadcaster Trans7 that he will decide during the summer break, so the races at Mugello, Catalunya, the Sachsenring and Assen are going to have a huge bearing on Rossi’s future as a rider.

 

- APRILIA, GRESINI AND ANDREA DOVIZIOSO

After two private tests on board the 2021 RS-GP, the rumour mills have been going into overdrive about what happens with three-time MotoGP™ runner-up Andrea Dovizioso in both 2021 and 2022. The Italian and Aprilia have remained tight-lipped about their futures together, with whispers of a Misano wildcard being heard a few times. If nothing happens in 2021, does Dovizioso make a return to MotoGP™ in 2022 with Aprilia?

Well, this is what he and his manager Simone Battistella have reiterated all along: a 2022 racing return. It looks like Aprilia will have double the number of bikes on the grid next season (4) and will be running a full factory effort, alongside an Independent Team. Gresini – who have also been in talks with Ducati – are the favourites to run as Aprilia’s satellite team, they have worked together with Aprilia ever since the Noale factory returned to MotoGP™ in 2015.

 

A Dovizioso and Aleix Espargaro factory Aprilia line up seems very plausible. Federal Oil Gresini Moto2’s Fabio Di Giannantonio is a rider the late, great Fausto Gresini was very fond of, and after impressing in the early stages of the 2021 season, the Italian is a red-hot favourite to move up to MotoGP™ next season within the Gresini ranks.

The Aprilia satellite deal is one to certainly keep a keen eye on. If Bastianini does end up having to leave Ducati because of a potential VR46/Bologna partnership, then is Aprilia the Italian’s next destination? You’d have to think so. Petronas Yamaha SRT assumably will want to bring one of their riders through to partner Morbidelli, with the likes of Suzuki, KTM and Honda seemingly pretty set on their line-ups. Interesting and exciting times ahead for both Aprilia and Gresini.

- THE KTM CONUNDRUM 

KTM’s talent pool is overflowing with potential. With Aki Ajo’s Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2™ and Moto3™ teams especially impressing with Remy Gardner, Raul Fernandez and Pedro Acosta, it’s enabling KTM to have electrifying riders to choose from. The big one in 2022 is Gardner. The current Moto2™ World Championship leader has a two-year contract with KTM – starting in 2021 – and he said that it’s KTM’s decision whether next year that’s MotoGP™ or Moto2™. But with his performances so far, the Australian looks nailed on to become a premier class rider next year.

As we know, KTM have four bikes on the MotoGP™ grid: two at Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and two at Tech3 KTM Factory Racing. It seems highly unlikely that Brad Binder nor Miguel Oliveira will be going anywhere from the factory setup, which means one of Danilo Petrucci or Iker Lecuona might be making way for Gardner.

 

Then there’s Moto2™ rookie sensation Raul Fernandez. The latest Aki Ajo superstar has already won two races in just five outings, meaning the inevitable MotoGP™ rumours have been circulating the Spaniard. Fernandez himself said it’s important for riders to stay in Moto2™ “for at least two years”, but if you’re KTM and he has interest from rivals MotoGP™ factories, what do you do? We’ve seen the likes of Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) enter the premier class fray after just one season in Moto2™ and be successful, and Fernandez’s results can’t be ignored.

That’s why it’s a bit of a conundrum for KTM. Petrucci is a two-time MotoGP™ race winner and has bags of experience to go with his undoubted speed, while Lecuona is still incredibly young and learning his trade in the premier class. It’s been far from an easy start to 2021 for the Tech3 duo, but there’s no doubting either rider’s potential. Look at Le Mans for example, both the Italian and Spaniard had their best weekends of the season in conditions that were about as tricky as it gets. Big decisions will be made in the Austrian factory ranks in the coming weeks.

The so-called silly season is about to rev into life, so hold onto your hats. 

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