It will be the end of the road in the MotoGP for one of the riders, as movements amongst the teams following contract talks and renewals since the beginning of the season, has meant that riders have had to act quickly to decide where to go next in their careers.
The promotion of several Moto2 riders to the MotoGP field and only one new team (KTM) joining the championship from 2017 means that Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rider Stefan Bradl is the first to have to go elsewhere.
End of the road for Bradl in MotoGP
The German rider recently revealed that talks with the Avintia Ducati Team had come to an end and that it was likely he would not continue within the MotoGP. We already knew that British Moto2 rider Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) would continue his contract with Gresini racing and will take one seat from 2017 on the MotoGP Aprilia.
It was then recently confirmed that Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Aleix Espargaro will join him as he was left without a seat with Suzuki; they snapped up Ducati Team rider Andrea Iannone when he was axed from the team to make room for Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha) and he will be joined by Paginas Amarillas HP40 rider Alex Rins who is currently leading the Moto2 championship.
Bradl to make the switch to FIM Superbike World Championship with Honda
Having losing his place with Aprilia, and talks with Avintia Ducati breaking down, the German rider has been forced to look elsewhere. It has been confirmed that Bradl will be moving to the FIM Superbike World Championship and he will be joining former MotoGP Champion Nicky Hayden with Honda from next season.
Having ridden for Honda before in 2012, for example when he first joined the class after he claimed the Moto2 championship in 2011 when he went on to ride for LCR Honda, he will surely be familiar with the task ahead of him. It is confirmed he will be replacing Michael van der Mark an announcement on the team’s website.
The German rider excited to new opportunity and challenge
Bradl is said to be “really happy to join the Honda WorldSBK Team for the 2017 season”. What he feels is a “great opportunity” for him, he is “really looking forward to this new challenge” where he will be joining what he feels is “a really competitive team”, he said, “I’m sure we’ll do great things together.”
In what he described will be “a whole new experience” for himself he said, “I will try to adapt as quickly as possible in order to get some really good results.” Bradl “can’t wait to try the Fireblade” and feels it will be “fantastic to work together with Nicky” in what he described as “a fantastic combination” as he feels they can “understand each other really well”.
Not mentioning his exit from the MotoGP, he is focused on his future saying, “We can all look forward to the future and I am super motivated for this new journey.”
Honda have every confidence in their new rider
Honda World SBK Team Manager, Ronald ten Kate spoke of how they are “exited to welcome” Bradl into the team and paddock. He confirmed that “Stefan has chosen to ride with Honda in World Superbike” and he said they are aiming to “repay his trust in us in the best possible way”.
Bradl has met with Honda WorldSBK team on several occasions and Ten Kate mentioned how Bradl gave them “a clear view on his goals and the way to get there”, which left the team manager feeling that, “It is clear that we share the very same approach to racing.”
Speaking about the change of machinery Bradl will have to adapt to, he said, ”Like every other rider coming from MotoGP he’ll need to get used to the different character of production-based motorcycles and tyres.”
As well as these changes, Bradl will have to “learn the new tracks on the calendar”. Having every confidence in a Bradl who he said is “still very young” Ten Kate said, “I’m sure he will learn fast.”