With Suzuki quitting MotoGP at the end of this season, the premier-class is being reduced from 24 to 22 grid places. While Andrea Dovizioso, the oldest rider on the grid, has signalled he won’t be back for 2023, it looks like at least one of the current rookies could also be forced out.

With Iker Lecuona, still only 22, now impressing in WorldSBK after being left without a MotoGP seat at the end of last season, podcast host Harry Benjamin asked Huewen and Crash.net MotoGP editor Pete McLaren if MotoGP now has a problem in terms of finding room for young talent.

“Dorna has made a success of all the formulas, or all the ladders, that take us up to MotoGP,” said former British champion and Grand Prix rider Huewen.

“But as all the talent starts to drift up it’s creating a log-jam like we've never had before, which is going to make things difficult for the rider market. Where do you put all the young talents?

“Dorna has got another great product in World Superbike as well as MotoGP, but to try and bring another top class into the fray - or somewhere like MotoAmerica, for guys to slide off to the side when there isn't room in MotoGP or World Superbikes - is not going to be commercially viable at the moment.

“What that all means is it’s going to turn over people quicker at the top in MotoGP. Rins might not have got a second chance at LCR if the market had been a little bit further down the road. As happened to Iker Lecuona, who you keep telling us about Harry!

“Quite rightly, by the way, I think Iker Lecuona got a real shitty end of the stick to be honest. He got dropped out a bit too quick for his talent, which was a shame, but I can see more of that happening.”

 

Keith Huewen: If Toprak doesn't go to MotoGP? It ought to be illegal!

And where does that leave WorldSBK champion Toprak Razgatlioglu, currently trying to break into MotoGP?

“Toprak is one of the big talents that just about everybody wants to see in MotoGP,” said McLaren. “His manager Kenan Sofuoglu has made clear that only a factory team will do, so he’s staying in WorldSBK for 2023. But in terms of factory MotoGP rides there won’t be many opportunities for 2024 either, simply because most riders will be on two-year deals.

“The one big chance will be to take over from Franco Morbidelli at Yamaha, whose contract expires at the end of next year. So it's probably going to be Yamaha or nothing, I would think, for Toprak in MotoGP in 2024.”

Huewen added: “How much of a crying shame will it be if Toprak doesn't go to MotoGP? It ought to be illegal!

“I just can't imagine not seeing Toprak in MotoGP at some stage. We will all feel cheated if he doesn't go across to MotoGP. I will anyway.

“I think he's got a great personality. The way he conducts himself on and off track, is brilliant.

"And to miss out on that talent in the premier class would just seem to be so wrong, in my view.”

Keith Huewen: Rins ‘will flourish’ at LCR Honda

Of Rins’ new deal Huewen said: “Lucio Cecchinello is a really, really good guy. An ex-rider. Superb rider at the time. Maybe Alex Rins needs someone like him in his corner. We're going to see. Personalities count in a team. It's what's going to bring the best out of him.

“Rins has obviously got massive talent, but he's made quite a lot of unforced errors in the past. It's ironing those problems out and that all comes from north of the eyebrows.

“Lucio is a really good guy and I think they'll work well together. So I think a good move, for both.

“Has Nakagami underperformed in recent years? Rins is also going to prove that one way or another, which for me is also the interesting part of it.

“But I think he’ll flourish at LCR. I really do.”

For McLaren, the two-year nature of the agreement, and particularly the latest spec machinery, look to have been crucial factors for Rins:

“It's always a gamble, changing bikes. You never quite know how it will turn out. But he’s got no choice, he’s got to move, Suzuki is disappearing.

“MotoGP riders usually look for three main things in a new contract, apart from money: The latest bike, at least a two-year deal and ideally a place at the factory team. Rins hasn’t got the last part, but he’s got the other two and I think that is probably why he signed on the dotted line for LCR.

“He did have other options, but it seems like they didn’t involve having the latest bike and that was the real clincher for him in moving to Honda.

“Now Rins needs to take inspiration from Dovi, who lost his factory (Honda) seat in 2011, moved to a satellite team (Tech3 Yamaha) the following year, did a great job, which enabled him to bounce back with a return to a factory team and the best years of his career at Ducati.

“Rins can also take inspiration from the performances of Cal Crutchlow, who took podiums and wins for LCR not that long ago.

“It's going to be interesting, will Rins thrive in a different environment? Now as a satellite rider and without all the factory engineers, having only ever ridden for Suzuki since joining MotoGP.

“It’s a big move for Rins and let's see what he can do come November, when he’ll be on that bike for the first time at the Valencia test.”

Listener questions include which manufacturer looks the strongest heading into the second half of the season and whether Miguel Oliveira should choose RNF Aprilia or Tech3 KTM for 2022.

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