Jack Miller's confirmed switch to the factory Ducati MotoGP team, Valentino Rossi's talks with Petronas Yamaha and rumours Pol Espargaro will take over from rookie Alex Marquez at Repsol Honda.

Those were the 2021 rider moves put to five-time 500cc world champion Mick Doohan, during a recent live chat on the official MotoGP website.

Currently at Pramac Ducati, Miller will become the first Australian since Casey Stoner to ride for the official Ducati team after sealing a one-year deal for 2021, with an option for 2022.

"It's great news for Jack," Doohan said. "He's had a great run with the Pramac Ducati team and equally they've had a few guys come through in the past to the factory team. So it's a great junior team.

"Jack's already shown that he's fast enough to qualify on pole and run at the front. He just needs that final piece and hopefully the works Ducati might just be that final piece. And a bit of maturity.

"He's been in the top class for some time now and he's only going to get better, he's maturing, the time could be his and hopefully Ducati have got the bike right."

While Miller's deal is done, Rossi's expected to move to Petronas Yamaha is still in the negotiation stage. But most believe the Italian, out of the factory Yamaha team following the signing of Fabio Quartararo, will agree to extend his record-breaking career by joining the Malaysian team in 2021.

"He's certainly not showing the signs of someone who is ready to retire just yet," Doohan said of Rossi. "He fights harder than most on the circuit, regardless of where he qualifies, he ends up being close enough to the front.

"If he's going to be with Petronas Yamaha, currently it’s a satellite team. I'm not sure to what level the differences are between the bikes… Certainly if Valentino is going to that team, he might have a bit of influence with Yamaha to get the right equipment.

"But whilst he remains in the sport, I think it's good for the sport and if he wants to ride, then good on him. He certainly loves riding, he's always out on his dirt bike and why give up if he's fit, mentally sharp and showing guys 20 years younger than him that he can run with them and beat them?

"I think it’s great. He's got different generations of fans watching him and that can only be good for everyone. It will be a sad day when he retires. Like with everyone else the sport will move on, but he will never be forgotten."

The biggest surprise of the 'silly season' so far has been the news that current factory KTM star Espargaro could be set to replace Alex Marquez at Repsol Honda next season - even though the rookie is yet to turn a wheel at a MotoGP weekend and the obvious risk that such a decision could upset team-mate, brother and reigning champion Marc.

"I've got no idea!" smiled Doohan. "It's a bit odd that Alex has been kicked off the bike before he's even done a race! Who knows what's happening behind the scenes, I certainly don't. But I just find it odd that Alex hasn't been given a shot at riding, so if he does a great season, starts well and is going strong, what then? Are they going to put on another bike for him or is there another position for him?

"I'm sure Pol could do well on the bike… Honestly, I'm not that close to the Honda team and the rumour mill, so I've got no comment other that what I've just said."

Doohan's former 500cc rival and current Dorna MotoGP pitlane reporter Simon Crafar said he could see the logic behind such a deal.

"Well, I think it was a clever and - from Honda's point of view - obvious move if they want to just put someone on a bike next to Marc that they know can make a difficult handling V4 motorcycle go fast," Crafar explained.

"[Pol's] proven he can do that [at KTM], so if you put him on another difficult-handling V4 there's a very good chance he will do it as well. So I think that's clever from their side.

"The next thing I thought was that it would upset Marc, taking his brother out of the team before he has been given a chance. But if this is happening, they are obviously thinking of putting [Alex] in LCR, give him a year or two then bring him [back] into the factory team."



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