Final rider lineup for the 2016 MotoGP Season confirmed
Following a historic 2015 campaign, which witnessed one of the fiercest battles for the title, the Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo came out on top, defeating Valentino Rossi by just five points to claim his third MotoGP title and fifth overall.
As 2016 dawns, MotoGP welcomes a new era wherein the adoption of unified electronic package will mean that there will be a single class rather than the division into factory and open class which existed previously.
Another major change will be the arrival of Michelin as sole tyre supplier, which will replace Bridgestone who had been in the sport since 2002.
For the upcoming season, most teams have opted to retain their driver lineups from last season, with few riders graduating from Moto2 this year, while some big names have bid adieu to the sport. Below is the team-wise look at their respective rider lineups.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
The defending constructor’s and driver’s champions Yamaha have retained its successful but controversial duo of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
Rossi, despite leading the championship almost throughout the season, lost the title after incurring penalty due to clash with Marc Marquez at the penultimate round of the season.
It remains to be seen, whether Rossi still has the motivation to keep delivering marvelous performances even in his mid-30s. Lorenzo, on the other hand has been getting stronger and stronger, as showcased by his numerous flawless pole to flag victories through the season. After clinching another championship, his motivation remains higher than ever and also with age on his side he might be able to outscore Rossi again.
Repsol Honda Team
Akin to Yamaha, Honda too has retained its lineup of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
Even if Lorenzo can halt Rossi’s charge, the Honda’s will be a serious title threat and if they can produce a reliable and quick package, remedying the problems it had last year, then surely they can cruise to the title.
Its lead rider Marc Marquez, has already at an age of mere 22 established himself amongst greatest ever in the sport. His natural talent has no match on the grid, if the bike works fine, then he can cruise to the title as he did in 2014. But one major problem which arose last year was consistency, he lost several races due to crashing while leading, although the Honda package last year was a bit less competitive, but Marquez too cannot be absolved of blame. Nevertheless, his natural talent has no match on the grid, if he can just sort out certain problems he faced last year, then surely he will take further strikes towards greatness.
Meanwhile his teammate Dani Pedrosa will start his eleventh season with the team. The ever so unlucky Spaniard now holds the record of winning 50 grands prix, but without a premier class championship. His career has been majorly affected due to the numerous injuries he has sustained from time to time. Now that his fitness is back it will be interesting how he fares against his rivals.
The squad will continue with its experienced Italian lineup of Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso.
2015 turned out to be one of the best seasons for the team since Casey Stoner left in 2010. With the team enjoying a successful pre-season testing, expectations for the upcoming season remain higher than ever.
Also, with Casey Stoner signed on as the reserve rider, the prospects of seeing him race again remains a possibility.
Team Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP
Like its rival manufacturers, Suzuki too has opted to retain its riders’ Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales.
The Japanese giant has re-entered the MotoGP circuit just last year, keeping that in view it has done a commendable job till now, with few pole positions and several top 6 finishes in their first year already.The team seems on course to challenge the other manufacturers in the coming seasons. But, it seems it will be a while till it can challenge for the championship.
Aprilla Racing Team
The Italian manufacturer will continue with its lineup of the 2011 Moto2 World Champion Stefan Bradl and the 2006 125cc World Champion Alvaro Bautista, with Bradl slated to be replaced by Sam Lowes come 2017.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3
The team will stick to its lineup of Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro for the coming season.
Between its riders, Bradly Smith especially stands out, who delivered several marvelous performances with numerous top 5 finishes, outclassing more competitive teams on several occasions. Espargaro on the other hand, also fared well, but was a bit inconsistent through the season.
Last year’s winner of the open class entry, the Tech 3 team will look to challenge the top 3 manufacturer teams in order to move further up the MotoGP ladder.
At Avintia, Hector Barbera will stay for another year with the team, while Loris Baz will replace Mike Di Meglio.
Octo Pramac Racing
The talented Italian Danilo Petrucci who impressed last year when he almost won the British GP, has been retained by the team, while Yonny Hernandez will be replaced by Scott Redding, who joins the team from Marc VDS Racing.
Ioda Racing Project
The team has signed on Alex de Angelis as the sole rider for the team in the upcoming season.
The experienced British rider Cal Crutchlow will be the sole entrant for the team this season.
Marc VDS Racing Team
In an all new lineup, Jack Miller will join the team from Pramac Racing, while the team has also expanded to include another entry which will be occupied by Tito Rabat the former Moto2 World Champion. It is also the same team with which he won the Moto2 title a year ago.
Aspar MotoGP Team
At Aspar, Yonny Hernandez will move from Pramac Racing to replace Nicky Hayden. Eugene Laverty will stay on with the team.
Another major change for the team will be the switch from Honda to Ducati bikes, which they also previously used in 2010 and 2011.
Nicky Hayden and Karel Abraham will move to World Superbike Championship for the upcoming season. Hayden enjoyed a long and successful career for a span of 13 years, with the championship victory in 2006 his biggest achievement. As a mark of his accomplishments, at the end of the last season, he has also been inducted into the MotoGP Hall of Fame.
After taking part in MotoGP for the past five years, Abraham too will make the switch to superbikes.
After 10 years, Forward Racing team will leave the sport to join World Superbike Championship and World Supersport championships from 2016 onwards. Besides it, AB Motoracing too will leave MotoGP.