Ahead of MotoGP opener, race teams are making moves for 2021

Cal Crutchlow may get into a few wildcard entries, but he's gone from LCR Honda and now has a test rider role with Yamaha. Photo: Facebook/Cal Crutchlow

MotoGP opens this weekend at Jerez, but before the first race of the season, there’s considerable lineup shuffling going on, for the 2021 campaign. Alex Marquez is changing teams, Rossi is supposedly going to a satellite team—everyone’s juggling their roster.

Of course, the 2020 MotoGP season was nearly nuked by COVID-19 pandemic; so far, Moto2 and Moto3 raced at Qatar, but there hasn’t been anything else since. Series organizers have whittled the season down to a shortened list of European events, with maybe a visit to Argentina, Thailand or Malaysia later (they cancelled the Austin GP last week).

So, racing begins in earnest this weekend, but even before this season kicks off, all the teams are looking at next year. Both Yamaha and Honda’s factory teams are making changes, and that means impacts on other teams as well. 

The two biggest changes: Alex Marquez, brother and teammate of eight-time world champion Marc Marquez, is moving from the Honda factory team to the LCR Honda satellite team. Wait, what? Alex hasn’t put in a single race with the factory team, and he’s already getting demoted? Weird. But, Honda’s signed Pol Espargaro to the top squad, and that means the younger Marquez is off the team. Wonder what big brother Marc has to say about that?

This isn’t just bad news for Alex Marquez. Because he’s moving to the LCR team for the next two years, longtime foot soldier Cal Crutchlow is getting punted. As per the Honda presser:

“HRC would like to extend their thanks to Cal Crutchlow for his diligent and tireless work since joining HRC in 2015. With three wins and 12 podiums, the British rider has been a valuable asset on and off track – a constant source of excellent feedback for the engineers and a key part of developing the Honda RC213V in recent years. HRC wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”

Thanks, Cal! We’ve grown tired of you, just like Yamaha did, so find your fortune elsewhere, despite all the good work you’ve done! No doubt Crutchlow is none too pleased about being shuffled aside as part of this maneuvering, but what can he do about it? Word on the street is that he’s moving to Aprilia, maybe? He’d probably be a force back in World Superbike, but MotoGP wants to keep him in their series, to keep British viewers engaged, and try to prolong the facade that this isn’t basically a Spanish series.

Enough of Big Red’s politics. Over on the Yamaha team, there’s more scheming going on. Remember, Fabio Quartararo is moving from Petronas up to the big factory team at season’s end, leaving question marks about the future of Valentino Rossi. Well, word is that Rossi may be trading places with Quartararo on Petronas. There, he’d ride with just-signed Franco Morbidelli. Nobody’s confirmed this yet, mind you, it’s all gossip.

Wherever Rossi goes, it won’t be to a factory team, because KTM and Ducati are full up, too. There’s still some shuffling to be done among the factory teams, so stay tuned–there’s no doubt some more interesting skullduggery to come, especially when you consider the rumour that Jorge Lorenzo is looking to return to a Ducati ride …


  1. I would argue that it is basically an Italian & Spanish series at present. Even the promising riders from other countries come up through (mostly) Spanish feeder classes. Those 2 countries have been motivated and smart about producing and promoting talent. In Canada most of the talented athletes become hockey players and of course in hockey bigger is better, in motorcycle racing, smaller is better. However, the Asians are gunning for the Europeans and given their generally smaller stature and the huge money and fandom in Asia for motorsports, I think they will start making a bigger impact very soon.

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