As has been rumoured here for several weeks, Aleix Espargaro will switch from Suzuki to Aprilia for the 2017 MotoGP season.

The Spaniard is to partner Moto2 title contender Sam Lowes, who signed a multi-year contract last season, with both Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista losing their RS-GP seats.

The official announcement has been expected since Thursday at Assen, with confirmation of the two-year deal eventually issued shortly after Sunday's race.

Like Aprilia, Suzuki will also have an all-new rider line-up after choosing Alex Rins and Andrea Iannone.

Espargaro had been spooked by the swift signing of Iannone following Maverick Vinales' decision to join Yamaha, given Suzuki's interest in Rins and fellow Moto2 star Johann Zarco.

Espargaro's fears - that Iannone would take over his role as the team's experienced rider, with a new rising star placed on the other machine - proved well founded, with Rins recently confirmed as completing the Suzuki line-up.

While Espargaro also had several good options in WSBK, he clearly feels he has unfinished business as a factory MotoGP rider and will return to the manufacturer with which he claimed the now defunct 'CRT' class title in 2012 and 2013.

Bautista is believed to have an offer from Aspar Ducati for next season, while Bradl is tipped to join World Superbikes.

By Peter McLaren


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