Review of the best Silly Seasons of the premier class

For the new 2025 MotoGP season, the rider field in the premier class will be thoroughly mixed up. Marc Marquez will join the Ducati factory team, while Jorge Martin will move to Aprilia. There have already been such major domino effects on the transfer market in the past. looks back.

2024: Ducati decision starts wild transfer activity

At the moment, only 9 of the 22 MotoGP places for the new season have been allocated, but there are already exciting changes in the top teams. Ducati has chosen Marc Marquez as Francesco Bagnaia’s teammate, Enea Bastianini has to vacate his place and is likely to flee to GasGas. World Championship leader Jorge Martin is moving to Aprilia’s MotoGP project. There is also a change in the KTM factory team: rising star Pedro Acosta will take over the box from Jack Miller. Further transfer announcements are expected in the coming weeks.

2023: Marc Marquez joins Gresini Ducati

The Silly Season of the previous season only really got going late: Since most riders had MotoGP contracts up to and including 2024, there was initially little movement in the rider market. In the last third of the season, however, one of the biggest MotoGP transfers in history was looming: Marc Marquez left Repsol Honda after eleven years together and surprisingly switched to the small Ducati customer team Gresini.

KTM also made a lot of headlines 12 months ago. The Mattighofen-based company had five MotoGP riders under contract – Brad Binder, Jack Miller, Pol Espargaro, Augusto Fernandez and Moto2 newcomer Pedro Acosta – but only four motorcycles available. A second customer team was sought, but after much back and forth, nothing came of it. In the end, Pol Espargaro had to give up his place to young star Acosta.

Marc Marquez and Fabio di Giannantonio at the MotoGP Malaysia GP
After the 2023 season, Marc Marquez swapped the Repsol Honda for the Gresini Ducati, Photo: LAT Images

2018: Lorenzo leaves Ducati after two years

Ducati also played a decisive role in the transfer market in the summer of 2018. After a disappointing 2017 season and a modest start to 2018, Jorge Lorenzo decided to leave Ducati and join Repsol Honda for the following season. Danilo Petrucci succeeded Lorenzo at Ducati. KTM also signed Johann Zarco from the Yamaha customer team Tech3, who went straight to KTM. For the 2019 season, Fabio Quartararo, Francesco Bagnaia, Joan Mir, Miguel Oliveira and four rookies also moved up to the premier class.

Jorge Lorenzo left Ducati when he started winning races with the Desmosedici, Photo: Lekl
Jorge Lorenzo left Ducati when he started winning races with the Desmosedici, Photo: Lekl

Fabio Quartararo’s move to the new Petronas Yamaha team in particular caused a stir at the time. The Frenchman had been competing in the motorcycle world championship since 2015, but had not been able to celebrate any major successes in Moto3 and Moto2 until the 2018 Catalonia Grand Prix. In Barcelona, ​​however, he then took his first GP victory without any problems, and another podium followed a week later in Assen. Shortly afterwards, Petronas Yamaha announced the signing of the then 18-year-old. The MotoGP competition laughed at the deal at the time.

2016: Many driver changes in the top teams

The summer of 2016 went down in MotoGP history as one of the most exciting silly seasons, with almost all of the premier class’ factory teams announcing a new rider line-up for 2017. It all started with Jorge Lorenzo, who decided to leave Yamaha for Ducati after eight years together. There he replaced Andrea Iannone, who joined Suzuki as the Japanese were looking for a replacement for Maverick Vinales, who had been signed by Yamaha as Lorenzo’s successor.

Second place in the Suzuki box was secured by Alex Rins. The Spaniard celebrated his rookie season in the premier class in 2017. Aprilia also completely reorganized: the MotoGP contracts with Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista were not renewed, instead Aleix Espargaro and rookie Sam Lowes moved to Noale. In addition, newcomer KTM signed the two Yamaha Tech3 riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro. The two rookies Jonas Folger and Johann Zarco moved up to the Tech3 ranks.

2010: Valentino Rossi leaves Yamaha

The MotoGP rider market also underwent a spectacular development in the summer of 2010. At that time, superstar Valentino Rossi decided to leave Yamaha and enter into what was supposed to be a dream marriage with Ducat. There he replaced Casey Stoner, who was moving to Honda. Yamaha then signed the American Ben Spies as a teammate for Jorge Lorenzo.

Now it’s up to you: Which dominoes will fall next in the MotoGP rider market for the 2024 season? Give us your tips in the comments!

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