Two days after losing his factory Ducati MotoGP seat, Andrea Iannone has been confirmed as a Suzuki rider for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
As reported by Crash.net
yesterday, the Italian will effectively replace Maverick Vinales, who is moving to Yamaha.
A four-time race winner in 125GP and eight times in Moto2, Iannone has spent four seasons with Ducati in MotoGP, initially at the Pramac team before stepping up to the factory outfit in 2015.
The 26-year-old has claimed four premier-class podiums and was ranked a career best fifth in last year's world championship. However this season has been blighted by mistakes, Iannone falling three times in the five races - his Ducati fate perhaps sealed when he took both himself and Dovizioso out of a podium in Argentina.
Suzuki team manage Davide Brivio will now aim to smooth Iannone's rough edges to get the most from what, on paper, is a potent mix of youth and experience, speed and aggression. Iannone meanwhile, may feel he is joining Suzuki at just the right moment, the factory having taken the first podium since its MotoGP return last time at Le Mans.
“We are happy to have enrolled Andrea in our Team for the next two years," Brivio declared. "He is one of the top riders in MotoGP and he is also very passionate and motivated; which fits into our racing philosophy.
"Our technical project is continuously improving since our debut in 2015 and we are working hard to make our GSX-RR very competitive so that it can fight consistently close to top and victory as soon as possible. We wanted a rider that could help Suzuki continue its road to the top.
"Andrea is a fast rider who has the hunger for success and his riding style could suit our machine's characteristics, therefore giving us good hopes for a positive partnership. Being in his fourth year in MotoGP he's also an experienced rider from which the whole Team will benefit.”
The Italian's team-mate is still to be confirmed.
Aleix Espargaro has raced alongside Vinales since Suzuki's 2015 comeback and, after a shaky start to the season, has regained form since joining Vinales on last year's chassis. Espargaro has finished in the top six at the last three rounds and sits just seven points behind Vinales in the championship standings.
However Vinales-style rookies are also potentially available to Suzuki in the form of Alex Rins, currently leading the Moto2 world championship and determined to secure a factory ride in MotoGP next season, plus reigning Moto2 champion Johann Zarco - who already has an option with Suzuki for 2017.
On Tuesday, Iannone's team-mate Andrea Dovizioso was named as remaining alongside Jorge Lorenzo at Ducati in 2017. Both Iannone and Dovizioso are fighting to claim Ducati's first race win since 2010. Suzuki's last MotoGP victory was back in 2007.
By Peter McLaren