Repsol Honda team manager Alberto Puig insists the only rider HRC has so far signed for the 2021 MotoGP season is reigning champion Marc Marquez.

Following news that Ducati had seen off interest from KTM and Honda to secure Moto2 star Jorge Martin next season, reports then spread that HRC had tempted Pol Espargaro from KTM to partner Marquez next season.

Responding to the growing Espargaro rumours, Puig said: "HRC is always thinking about the present and the future of its structure, from the lower categories to MotoGP,

"Due to the circumstances that we are in, this season is not developing through the usual channels, but that does not mean that Honda stops continuing to plan the best possible future for all their riders.

"We do not have any contracts signed with anyone that have not already been announced."

The only 2021 Honda deal so far announced is the four-year contract extension for Marc Marquez.

Team-mate and younger brother Alex, plus LCR riders Cal Crutchlow and Takaaki Nakagami all have agreements that expire at the end of this season.

Puig's words don't rule out Espargaro potentially being on the verge of a Repsol Honda move, which would result in reigning Moto2 champion Alex being dropped from the factory team before completing a racing lap in the premier-class.

The suggestion is that Alex would be moved to LCR on full factory support next season, casting doubt on the Honda future of the team's current riders Crutchlow and Nakagami.

Another less-likely possibility is that it might be Espargaro - who battled Marc Marquez for the Moto2 title in 2012, before getting his MotoGP break with Yamaha (Tech3) in 2014 - that joins LCR with full Honda support.

Meanwhile, KTM would be in need of a new team leader, with Espargaro having spearheaded the RC16 project in terms of results since the Austrian factory's full-time debut in 2017, claiming a wet podium (his first in MotoGP) at Valencia in 2018 and a dry best of sixth at Le Mans last year.

KTM motorsport director Pit Beirer had made clear he wanted to keep all four of his current riders - Espargaro, Brad Binder, Miguel Oliveira and Iker Lecuona - for 2021, but also admitted: "Nothing is signed yet, so I cannot feel safe".

Should Espargaro depart, and given the Spaniard is the only current KTM rider with more than one season of MotoGP experience, the factory is likely to target experienced frontrunners such as Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso or Crutchlow to steer the project.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...