We’re approaching the mid-point of the 2021 season, and with riders starting to be announced for 2022, how might the MotoGP grid shape up next year?
Part 2 of this feature will take a look at which riders could take the remaining seats at Aprilia and the new Team VR46 which is set to enter MotoGP next year.
If you haven’t already, make sure to check out Part 1 where you can find a run-down of the riders who already have a seat, and the potential riders that could be at Petronas SRT and Tech KTM!
So without further ado, let’s dive in and see who could be on the MotoGP grid at Aprilia and Team VR46 in 2022.
The second Aprilia seat is one that has brought a lot of attention in MotoGP this year, with veteran rider Andrea Dovizioso heavily linked with the ride next year after taking a year out in the premier-class for 2021.
The Italian rider suddenly entered Aprilia’s picture at the beginning of this season when he became test rider for the manufacturer.
All the signs are currently pointing towards the 35-year-old getting that remaining seat, and with big steps being made in Aprilia’s progress on the grid this year, it could be a perfect scenario for both parties.
On Aprilia’s side, they would have arguably one of MotoGP’s best riders with Dovizioso coming close to his first title in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Not to mention the wealth of experience he has on premier-class bikes, meaning he could push Aprilia right to the front of the pack.
On Dovizioso’s side, he will get the chance to return to MotoGP after missing out 2021 and he could finally get the opportunity to become World Champion. This sounds like a bit of a stretch but Aprilia have made great progress so far this year, and Aleix Espargaro is knocking on the door of a podium.
Another option for the Noale-based team could be to stick with continuity of their line-up and keep Lorenzo Savadori on the second bike. So far in 2021 the Italian has struggled to get off the mark, with only three points finishes, the best being 14th at the Portuguese GP.
Whilst his teammate has scored a top-10 in every race he has finished, we shouldn’t expect this kind of form from Savadori so early on. The 28-year-old is still relatively new to MotoGP and having to contend with a healing injury early on this year; it’s been hard to fully get up to speed on his Aprilia.
If we see the 2020 CIV Superbike champion improve on his results, it could be the case that Aprilia decide to give him another year, but if not, I think we’ll see Dovizioso in that pit-box in 2022.
Luca Marini is all but confirmed as a rider for the VR46 Team with an announcement of his deal expected at some point soon. This leaves one seat up for grabs in Valentino Rossi’s newly-formed MotoGP outfit.
The most likely rider of choice is Marco Bezzecchi, who is a valued member of the VR46 Academy and is currently with Team VR46 in Moto2, and looks like one of this year’s championship contenders.
Three years into his Moto2 career, the Italian has cemented himself as one of the top-guns in the intermediate class. Seven podiums (including two wins) sit to his name last year and a total of three podiums so far in 2021 puts him third in the World Standings at the moment.
As long as he keeps up his strong form throughout this season, the 22-year-old is definitely on course for a ride on the MotoGP grid with Team VR46 in 2022.
Should the unlikely happen and Bezzecchi’s form drops off towards the end of the year, there could be an outside chance of seeing a different rider in the Team VR46 pit-box. That rider being Valentino Rossi.
Should the Italian decide not to retire from the sport and continue for at least one more year, what’s to say he won’t take up that second seat in his own team and ride alongside half-brother Marini?
I think there’s a slim chance of that actually coming to fruition, mainly due to Bezzecchi having a strong year in Moto2 and looking ready to jump to the premier-class, but it would be unwise to brush the potential of having Rossi race in his own team under the carpet.
With the MotoGP ‘silly season’ underway, who do you think could take the remaining seats? Be sure to let us know your thoughts!