CRT class MotoGP champion Aleix Espargaro has completed a deal to move from Aspar to the new Forward Yamaha project next season.
“For sure next year I will race with the Forward Yamaha,” Espargaro told the official MotoGP website at Motegi on Friday morning.
The Spaniard has dominated the privateer CRT class for Aspar Aprilia since the inaugural 2012 season and, by winning this year's title, had a clause to remain at the squad next season.
However Espargaro felt the new open class Yamaha would be a much better package than the upgraded Aprilia - to the extent that 400,000 euros is rumoured to have been found to release him from Aspar.
But shortly after Espargaro secured the Forward move - yet to be officially announced - Aspar decided on a switch from Aprilia to the new Honda Production Racer, following the shock departure of Aprilia race boss Gigi Dall'Igna.
“I thought the [upgraded] Aprilia will be good, but not in time for next year... It's frustrating because if I knew [about the Aspar Honda] before maybe I wouldn't have moved,” admitted Espargaro. “But anyway I think [the Yamaha] will be good.”
The privateer Forward Yamaha package, originally labelled as just an engine supply, will include the engine, frame and swing-arm, with FTR supplying the remaining components.
Unlike the factory Yamahas, the Forward bikes will run the full control ECU system - hardware and software - allowing four extra litres of race fuel, twelve rather than five engines changes plus the softer specification rear tyre.
Former world champion Nicky Hayden has signed to ride the Aspar Honda, with Hiroshi Aoyama tipped as his team-mate. Colin Edwards looks set to remain at Forward alongside new arrival Espargaro.
Aleix's younger brother Pol, currently leading the Moto2 standings, will move up to MotoGP with Tech 3 Yamaha next season.
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