German Moto2 star Jonas Folger has agreed a contract to ride for the Monster Energy Tech3 Yamaha team, replacing Bradley Smith for 2017 and possibly 2018.
Smith signed a deal with the factory KTM team for 2017 during the season opener in Qatar, leaving at least one open seat in the Tech3 team, with Pol Espargaro’s future currently up in the air. Alex Rins is still very much anticipated to join Folger on the satellite Yamaha.
The German’s contract is guaranteed for 2017 with Tech3 having an option to extend into 2018 should they wish.
Folger is currently fifth in the Moto2 World Championship, and Tech3 elected to chose their home round in Le Mans to announce the signing of their latest rider.
“I am super excited about the news and I still can’t believe this is happening. I have been racing for years in the motorcycling World Championship and to make the move up to the premier class is a dream come true plus I’d like to thank all my sponsors that have stuck by me all these years,” said the 22-year-old.
“Furthermore, it’s an honour to make this step with Yamaha, Hervé Poncharal and Tech3 team who have such a long and deep history in the paddock. I will try my absolute best to repay the faith the team has put in me, and I’m really looking forward to the new adventure.
“However, I will remain completely focused for the rest of the year in the intermediate class but I can’t wait for Valencia where I will sample the Yamaha YZR-M1 for the first time.”
Tech3 team boss Hervé Poncharal has been a very vocal fan of the German for a long time, so as you would expect, the Frenchman was delighted to secure the signing of the talented German.
“It’s always a very important and tough decision to make when it’s time for us to choose a young rider to start his career in the MotoGP class. We have been thinking a lot about who has the best profile to replace Brad, who has done a great job with Tech3 for four years and is now ready to move to a full factory team,” he said.
“Having thoroughly checked all the names and details of the young riders in various championships, the name Jonas Folger came out on top. He’s a nice person, very fast and he is going to have a strong season in Moto2 this year, where he hopefully will win the title which would be the dream situation. I am really pleased to announce that Jonas will join us before our home GP in Le Mans. It may be difficult to predict what will happen, as some riders adapt instantly whilst others need some time, but I am certain that he will be fast, have fun and become a strong Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider.
“I’d like to welcome him and I want to assure Jonas that the whole team and Yamaha Factory Racing are very happy that he will join us and for sure, everyone will do their best to assist him in moving forward in the top class.”
Photos via Dynavolt Intact GP