With the brand-new 2015 MotoGP season just few days ahead, one of the most important times of the year begins. Not only for the fans, but also for the teams, sponsors and, most important, the riders.
Within the top teams, riders and crew members mostly remain the same. One of the first riders to renew his contract was current world champion Marc Márquez. The title contender follows the philosophy of his manufacturer “If something works, don’t mess with it” and remains with his crewchief Santi Hernández and the rest of his well-chosen team. Márquez insisted to transfer his entire team to the premiere class after his rise from Moto2 in 2013.
His teammate Dani Pedrosa, who extended his contract with the Honda factory team for two more years, decided to try it differently. After nine years of working together, the MotoGP veteran decided to part ways with his crewchief Mike Leitner. He will be replaced by Pedrosa’s fellow countrymen Ramon Aurin.
A strategy that Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi successfully discovered for himself last season, as he replaced veteran Jeremy Burgess with fellow countrymen Silvano Galbusera. Despite all worries from fans and media, Rossi’s decision turned out to be the right one. In the 2014 season he earned more wins and podium positions than in his first year back at Yamaha and of course more than in his two unsuccessful years with Ducati.
If this is due to the fact, that it’s easier for Rossi to explain his problems with the bike in his mother tongue, and therefor solve them faster, or if the italian simply needed some fresh air in his team, is something only few people know.
On the other side of the Yamaha box, everything remains the same. Jorge Lorenzo decided to continue with the team that he started his career in the premiere class of motorcycle racing with. Since he entered the class in 2008, Lorenzo worked with Ramón Forcada as his crewchief. After seven years and two world titles, it was rumored that Forcada would change to the new Suzuki factory team to work with Maverick Viñales, but things turned out differently. Just as the rest of the team, Forcada will stay with Lorenzo, not only for the upcoming season, but at least until 2016.
At Ducati things are a little different. After releasing Cal Crutchlow from his two-year contract after just one year, he will be replaced by former Pramac Ducati rider Andrea Iannone. The italian earned himself his place as a factory rider with good results throughout the last season, not only once finishing in front of the factory riders. He’ll team up with Andrea Dovizioso, who stays with Ducati also in 2015. An all-italian line-up surely is a very special and mostly very welcome thing at Ducati.
Iannone’s place in the Pramac Ducati team will be taken over by Danilo Petrucci. The italian completes the team next to Yonny Hernández, who is racing for Pramac since 2013.
Crutchlow, after his break-up with Ducati, will continue his career at Lucio Cecchinello‘s LCR Honda team. Judging by the results of the latest winter test in Sepang, it seems like the englishmen made the right decision. Crutchlow will team up with MotoGP rookie Jack Miller. After losing the Moto3 world title to his rival Álex Márquez by only one point at the final Grand Prix, the aussie is the first rider since Gary McCoy in 1998 to skip one class and directly move up to MotoGP. His crewchief will be Christian Gabbarini, who worked with Casey Stoner before the aussie decided to quit racing.
Former LCR rider Stefan Bradl surprised media and fans last season, when he announced he’d leave Cecchinello’s team. Bradl started his career in MotoGP with LCR Honda in 2012, but since the hoped-for results did not appeared, HRC lost interest. Cecchinello was free to resign Bradl for the upcoming season, but if he did, without the support of Honda. Bradl then decided to part ways with LCR and signed with Yamaha Forward Racing. With Colin Edwards retiring from motorcycle racing after more than twenty years and Aleix Espargaró also leaving the team, both bikes were waiting for their new riders. So in 2015 Bradl will be the teammate of Loris Baz, who changes from the Superbike championship to MotoGP.
Espargaró however will be one rider for the new Suzuki Ecstar team. His teammate is going to be rookie Maverick Viñales, who moves up to MotoGP. After finishing his Moto2 rookie season in third place in the overall ranking, the young spaniard took the chance to enter the MotoGP class with a factory team.
Whereas his brother tries new ways, Pol Espargaró stays with the Tech3 Yamaha team, in which he entered the class last season. His teammate Bradley Smith also continues to race with them, so within the team, nothing is going to change in the upcoming season.
Nicky Hayden also keeps on competing with the Drive M7 Aspar team, now with Eugene Laverty as his teammate. Laverty will replace Hiroshi Aoyama, who retired from the championship and was confirmed by Honda as new test rider for 2015.
Next to Suzuki, a second manufacturer confirmed their return to MotoGP this year. The former Honda Gresini team now is the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini. With Aprilia coming back to MotoGP, they’re bringing Marco Melandri as one of the two riders with them. Melandri, who already competed in MotoGP, had changed to the Superbike championship in 2011. Now he’s back alongside Álvaro Bautista, who already raced for Gresini,
With Bautista and Melandri forming the new Aprilia Racing team, Scott Redding returns to the Marc VDS team, which whom he was one of the title contenders in the 2013 Moto2 championship. He lost the title due to a broken wrist at the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island. After starting his MotoGP career last year with Honda Gresini, Redding is now the only rider for the new Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS team.
Avintia Racing is starting with Héctor Barberá and Mike Di Meglio as riders and Ducati Desmosedici GP14 bikes, whereas OctoIoda Racing signed up Alex De Angelis for 2015. Karel Abraham will continue to race for the AB Motoracing team.