As rumored and expected, Yamaha and Suzuki opened up the weekend at Mugello by continuing the MotoGP Factory feeding frenzy on talent for 2017. Yamaha started the fun, signing young phenom Maverick Viñales to a two year deal to ride alongside Valentino Rossi for the Movistar team.
Suzuki wasted no time responding to their sudden vacancy, announcing that they had signed aggressive Italian rider Andrea Iannone to a two year contract to anchor the Suzuki Ecstar team.
I analyze the positives and negatives of both these moves in the latest Motoweek Podcast, but the short version – these are my two favorite moves so far in the MotoGP Silly Season:
-Viñales offers Yamaha a rider to develop for the future. At this point, he is young and inexperienced enough that the guidance of someone like Rossi should be exactly what he needs to unlock his potential. There could be a downside, though – which you can hear all about in the Podcast.
-Iannone’s situation is a bit different. He’s an aggressive rider that enjoys the spotlight, and needs a situation where he knows the competition isn’t coming from within – that is exactly the type of atmosphere Suzuki can provide. Assuming Aleix Espargaro is staying, Iannone will have a teammate that won’t steal his thunder, allowing Andrea to take the lead and forge his own path. Suzuki is already embracing Iannone’s on-track persona, and that will go a long way toward making the partnership work, for one specific reason – again, you can find out why by listening to this week’s Motoweek show!
Here are the Official Announcements from Movistar Yamaha and Suzuki Ecstar:
It is with great pleasure that Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd announces the signing of Maverick Viñales to ride for the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team for 2017 and 2018.
Viñales, who is presently 5th in the MotoGP™ Championship standings, will partner 9-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, whose contract renewal was already announced in March this year.
Maverick Viñales, born in Figueres (Spain) on 12th January 1995, made his World Championship debut in 2011 in the 125cc Class. His racing career highlights include the victory of the Moto3™ World Championship in 2013 as well as 3 ‘Rookie of the Year’ awards in 2011 (125cc), 2014 (Moto2™) and 2015 (MotoGP™).
ANDREA IANNONE TO BE SUZUKI FACTORY RIDER IN 2017-2018
May 19th, 2016
Team Suzuki Press Office – May 19, 09:30hrs (CET)
Suzuki Motor Corporation is pleased to announce the agreement with Andrea Iannone as a Factory rider of Team SUZUKI ECSTAR for 2017-2018.
The Italian will ride the Factory GSX-RR in the MotoGP™ World Championship for the upcoming two years following the 2016 season.
Iannone was born on August 9th, 1989 in Vasto, Southern Italy. He started racing in the Italian and Spanish Championships in 2004 when he was 15 years old. He moved to the 125 World Championship in 2005, winning four races, before he stepped-up to Moto2 in 2010; always finishing in the top-three places in the Championship and winning eight races. He moved to MotoGP™ in 2013, and in 2015 – his third season – secured fifth place overall, recording one Pole Position and three podiums.
Davide Brivio – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Team Manager:
“We are happy to have enrolled Andrea in our Team for the next two years. He is one of the top riders in MotoGP™ and he is also very passionate and motivated; which fits into our racing philosophy. Our technical project is continuously improving since our debut in 2015 and we are working hard to make our GSX-RR very competitive so that it can fight consistently close to top and victory as soon as possible. We wanted a rider that could help Suzuki continue its road to the top. Andrea is a fast rider who has the hunger for success and his riding style could suit our machine’s characteristics, therefore giving us good hopes for a positive partnership. Being in his fourth year in MotoGP™ he’s also an experienced rider from which the whole Team will benefit.”