It's official: Pol Espargaro will join the Repsol Honda team alongside current six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez next season.

It will be the first time in Espargaro's MotoGP career that he has been in a race-winning, let alone title-winning team having spent three seasons at Tech3 Yamaha before joining the new KTM project in 2017.

The Spaniard, 29, who battled Marquez in the junior classes, has been KTM's top rider in each season since, including his and the team first's MotoGP podium in the wet 2018 Valencia round.

A brief statement declared: 'Honda Racing Corporation are pleased to announce the signing of Pol Espargaro.The former Moto2 World Champion will join the Repsol Honda Team on a two-year contract. He will join eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez aboard the Honda RC213V. Espargaro is one of the most experienced riders on the grid, having raced in the World Championship since 2006 and with 104 premier class Grands Prix contested.'

News of the surprise Honda move leaked early last month, although at that stage HRC denied signing anyone but Marc Marquez.

That was understood to be because of a clause in Espargaro's KTM contract, but when it became clear the Spaniard wanted the RC211V ride, KTM focussed on finding a replacement.

Danilo Petrucci, who has lost his Ducati seat to Jack Miller for 2021, was subsequently announced as joining the KTM ranks next season, in turn confirming the reality of the #44's Honda move.

Intriguingly, Espargaro will replace Marc's younger brother Alex, the reigning Moto2 champion losing the chance to stay at the factory team without even completing a competitive lap in the premier-class.

Exactly when Alex - and more importantly Marc, who recently agreed a four-year HRC contract extension - were told about Honda's intention to sign Espargaro, and their views on the matter, is currently unclear...

In a separate announcement, HRC confirmed that Alex will move to LCR for 2021 and 2022, with Cal Crutchlow leaving the satellite Honda team. The Englishman is rumoured to be in talks with Aprilia.

 

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