Five riders desperately trying to avoid being axed from MotoGP in 2025

Which of these five riders will miss out on a MotoGP 2025 bike?

Takaaki Nakagami,
Takaaki Nakagami,

The 2025 MotoGP rider market means some riders will be worrying about their future.

Fabio Quartararo’s confirmation that he will stay for two more years at Yamaha is a major domino to fall into place.

Other teams will begin committing to riders, which will inevitably leave somebody without a seat…

Franco Morbidelli

Franco Morbidelli spent the entirety of last year fending off questions about his Yamaha future, with strong suggestions that he was set to be replaced.

He was ultimately replaced by Alex Rins and, unusually after such a poor period with Yamaha, ended up moving to Pramac Ducati which gave him the best bike on the grid.

But Morbidelli’s 2024 started off in the worst possible way, with a serious injury suffered on a training track day which robbed him of the chance to partake in MotoGP preseason testing.

Now, Morbidelli is playing catch-up with the Ducati GP24, the most coveted machine on the grid.

He finished 18th in each of the first two grands prix - but in both rounds, his priority was building his physical fitness and feeling with a bike which he wasn’t able to touch in preseason.

The problem for Morbidelli is that the ruthlessness of silly season might not wait for him to develop feeling with the Ducati.

His teammate Jorge Martin is expected to depart Pramac (for the factory team or elsewhere) while Fermin Aldeguer is guaranteed to arrive at a Ducati satellite team next year, probably with Pramac.

That’s one of Pramac’s bikes accounted for, and the other will be Martin’s if he U-turns and opts to stay.

Morbidelli, unless he can offer a reminder of his talent, could become a forgotten man.

Augusto Fernandez

Augusto Fernandez might have missed out on a MotoGP seat this season (which would have been incredibly harsh given he was the 2022 Moto2 champion, and in his rookie premier class year in 2023).

But such is the competition within KTM, Fernandez came within a whisker of missing out to Pedro Acosta.

Ultimately, KTM offered a massive show of faith in Fernandez and instead got rid of Pol Espargaro.

But that faith means the Tech3 GASGAS rider must deliver.

He does not need a reminder about KTM’s willingness to axe young riders if they find somebody better.

Already, he is lagging behind his very special and hyped-up teammate Acosta which isn’t a good look.

Fernandez finished 17th in Qatar and 11th in Portugal, where Acosta was on the podium.

The KTM is looking like the closest competitor to the Ducati in the early stages of this season which will only increase the competition for the bike that Fernandez rides.

And the arrival of the brilliant Acosta has only increased the spotlight on him.

Joan Mir

Joan Mir, MotoGP, Portuguese MotoGP, 23 March
Joan Mir, MotoGP, Portuguese MotoGP, 23 March

Less than four years ago Joan Mir was the MotoGP champion with Suzuki.

Still only 26, Mir has failed to establish himself among the top riders on the grid.

Suzuki’s withdrawal left him scrambling and a good move, on paper, to Repsol Honda became a nightmare.

Last year, Mir’s first with Honda alongside Marc Marquez, was so terrible that he was publicly questioning whether to retire.

Now with Luca Marini as his teammate, the Honda is still a work in progress and Mir doesn’t yet have major reason for optimism.

What is clear is that Honda are utterly determined to restore themselves to the top of MotoGP, even if it currently feels like a long way away.

Marini is contracted into 2025 so, should Honda want to plough their considerable financial backing into a new rider, it would come at the expense of Mir.

Raul Fernandez

The rebrand of Trackhouse from RNF means an exciting future - but perhaps an uncertain one for its riders.

Raul Fernandez feels particularly vulnerable in comparison to his teammate, former race winner Miguel Oliveira. Trackhouse inherited both riders when they took over the team.

The suggestion is that Trackhouse, now backed by the US-based team, might fancy an American rider.

Joe Roberts, of John Hopkins’ American Racing Moto2 team, has been talking up a move into MotoGP with Trackhouse.

Fernandez, meanwhile, has endured a drab start to 2024.

He stalled on the starting grid of the season-opener at Qatar, then also failed to finish in Portimao.

One of four riders without a point after two rounds, Fernandez knows that earning a MotoGP contract sometimes comes down to more than just performances. He will need to make a major statement in coming weeks to prevent Trackhouse going in their own direction next year.

Takaaki Nakagami

Takaaki Nakagami is no stranger to the feeling of his MotoGP berth being threatened.

Last season he was given a reprieve after Honda’s horrendous 2023.

But that might have had something to do with Ai Ogura also performing below expectation in Moto2, and failing to follow up on his runner-up finish of 2022.

Ogura, as a fellow Japanese rider, would allow Honda to maintain a rider from the country of the manufacturer’s origin in its MotoGP line-up.

Ogura has finished fourth and fifth in the first two Moto2 races of the year.

LCR Honda rider Nakagami, meanwhile, has only managed 19th and 14th in a desperate start to the MotoGP season.

He does, at least, have more points than Repsol Honda’s new signing Luca Marini after two rounds. But Marini’s future is assured after a long-term deal was handed to him.

Nakagami has no such assurances, and is already trailing behind new teammate Johann Zarco who stepped off a latest-spec Ducati last year.

Honda have majorly restructured their technical staff in a bid to improve their on-track fortunes.

They will surely be ruthless in the rider market, too, if they sense an opportunity to edge closer to the front.

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