The 2019 MotoGP grid is starting to emerge after Honda confirmed the signing of five-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo as team-mate to current top man Marc Marquez in the Repsol Honda squad.
Lorenzo won last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, after which he alluded to the fact he would be leaving Ducati after a year-and-a-half of largely lacklustre results. His place alongside Andrea Dovizioso at the factory Ducati team will be taken by Danilo Petrucci, who moves from the satellite Pramac Ducati squad.
“It goes without saying that for me, being part of the factory team is a dream come true,” said Petrucci. “It’s a great honour to become an official rider for the Ducati team, especially for someone like me who started in Ducati as a production motorcycle test rider. Now all I want to do is to finish the year in the top five in the standings and then start the new season with the Ducati team.”
The moves come less than 24 hours after Honda announced that long term employee Dani Pedrosa would be leaving the company at the end of the season. The Spaniard has been an HRC rider since 2001, winning the 125cc and 250cc world titles, as well as 31 MotoGP races. Pedrosa, 32, says that he will announce his future at next weekend’s Catalan Grand Prix, but with no competitive race seats remaining it looks like Pedrosa may retire or take on a test riding role.
Away from the factory teams, the Tech3 squad have confirmed that Hafizh Syahrin will remain with them in 2019 as they switch from Yamaha to KTM machinery. The Malaysian rookie has impressed after being a late call-up following Jonas Folger’s late withdrawal through illness and he will join Portuguese rider Miguel Oliviera in the French run team.
With all the top seats for 2019 now all but confirmed, the future for British riders Bradley Smith and Scott Redding is looking unclear, with 27-year-old Smith adding that he would rather retire than move to production based superbike machinery in World Superbikes or British Superbikes.