Ducati have elected to keep Andrea Dovizioso to partner Jorge Lorenzo in the factory team for 2017, with Andrea Iannone off to Suzuki to replace the outgoing Maverick Viñales.
When reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo was signed to join the factory Ducati team for 2017, it was clear at least one of the two Italians would be seeking a new employer from next season.
Reports from Italy are now suggesting that Ducati are going to surprise many experts and chose to extend the contract of the older Dovizioso, rather than Iannone. It was widely expected that Dovizioso would be shown the door and when Iannone was offered a contract after the opening Grand Prix of 2016, it looked bleak for Dovizioso. However, Iannone’s torpedo move in Termas de Rio and crashes in Qatar and Le Mans, it appears Ducati have decided to move on from ‘The Maniac’.
Despite Ducati suggesting that Lorenzo will chose his own team-mate, both Gazetta and Sky Sports Italia are reporting that Dovizioso was chosen by Ducati to partner the Spaniard. The 30-year-old represents a much safer choice than his compatriot, someone who is willing to work closely in the team environment with the Spaniard, whilst also aiding Ducati continue with their progression of the Desmosedici and ultimately their aim to win the manufacturers World Championship title.
Iannone will not have to look too hard after losing his factory seat, as he will join up with Suzuki to replace the Yamaha-bound Maverick Vinales.
With Viñales set to confirm his Yamaha switch Thursday afternoon in Mugello, after signing his contract this past weekend in Italy, Suzuki have moved quickly to secure the signing of the Italian to replace him.
GPxtra reported that Iannone was the subject of a large offer from Suzuki last month, and with his Ducati deal not being renewed, the 26-year-old was more than happy to continue on the work of Viñales.
Suzuki have offered Alex Rins a contract to partner Iannone, and the Spaniard is thought to be considering all of his options before committing to a MotoGP team. The Moto2 World Championship leader is very keen to sign a factory contract, something which Suzuki are offering him. However it is still widely expected that Rins will sign a deal with the Yamaha factory to race in the Tech3 team alongside Jonas Folger, much in the same fashion as Pol Espargaro has in recent seasons.
Suzuki also have a contract in place with reigning Moto2 World Champion Johann Zarco. Zarco’s contract doesn’t guarantee him of a factory seat and the Frenchman may end up in a satellite Suzuki, with Lucio Cecchinello’s LCR team the latest independent team exploring the idea of running the satellite Suzuki team.
Iannone may want to announce his move to Suzuki this weekend, shortly after Viñales confirms he will be departing the Ecstar Suzuki factory, however Ducati had hoped to keep the decision under wraps for their home Grand Prix. Whether that is still the case after this news remains to be seen.
Photos via Ducati Corse