The season may have only concluded two wees ago, but teams are already looking to 2018, during which the market will be key. There are many questions marks regarding the futures of various riders: Valentino Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso, Marc Marquez. To name but a few. The six-time champion has been at the centre of numerous rumours in recent months, with talk of him moving to KTM in 2019. A deal that would rely on the commitment of main sponsor Red Bull.
The idea of Marc with the Austrian manufacturer is an intriguing one, in that a change would provide him with a new challenge. This was the case for Valentino Rossi, who left Yamaha for Ducati, followed, several years later, by Jorge Lorenzo. Is Marc likely to make a similar move?
This is one of the many questions that will keep the paddock guessing in coming months, though Emilio Alzamora was very clear in a recent interview, where he underlined that the priority for #93 was to stay with Honda. The Spanish manager has no intention of letting the Spanish rider get away.
At the same time, KTM doesn't want to stand around, and has already started making plans for the future. In a recent interview with Speedweek, CEO Stefan Pierer revealed that their goal for 2019 is Johann Zarco. Yes, you heard correctly! News that will come as an alarm bell for Yamaha, that risks losing its precious rider, the revelation of 2017.
During EICMA, the Frenchman admitted that his dream is to become world champion and that he will need a factory bike in order to do so. So the current Tech3 rider has made his wishes clear and now the Japanese manufacturer will need to decide what to do. While Maverick Vinales is certain for 2019, it remains to be seen what Valentino Rossi's intentions are. The Doctor has emphasised on several occasions that he was decide on his future roughly six races into the 2018 championship, based on his competitiveness on board the M1.
Six GPs means waiting until about June. Do we think Zarco will want to wait or will he prefer to jump straight on the KTM train?
Back to Pierer's words, the CEO explained his reasons for turning down a phenomenon such as Marquez: “Marc is undoubtedly a great champion, but if he turned out not to be competitive with the KTM, it could only be the fault of the bike”.
The CEO then outlined some ideas for 2019: “Our aim is to continue with Pol Espargarò – he underlines– he and the entire team have a good relationship based on mutual respect”. Lastly, there is talk of a satellite team with rumours hinting at team Marc VDS: “We want to create a structure in which we can see our top class champions grow– concludes Pierer – in Moto2 we have two riders like Binder and Oliveira and this would be a launch pad to MotoGP”.