2021 Honda MotoGP Shakeup: Pol Espargaró In; Crutchlow Out

Qatar Test, MotoGP 2020 - Losail International Circuit (QAT)

In a move that was not unexpected after he departed from the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MotoGP team after a three-year run, Pol Espargaró has signed a two-year contract with the Repsol Honda Team starting in 2021. Espargaró will be joining six-time and reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc Márquez.

That started a domino effect, as Álex Márquez has lost his Repsol Honda Team ride before a single lap of competition in 2020. Márquez has signed with the LCR Honda Team, and retains a contract with HRC as he rides the Honda RC213V for the satellite team. Márquez’s teammate at LCR will be Takaaki Nakagami, a former rival of both Márquez brothers in Moto2.

2021 Honda MotoGP Shakeup - Álex Márquez
Álex Márquez

Between Repsol Honda Team and LCR Honda Team, there are three Moto2 World Champions—Marc Márquez (2012), Espargaró (2013), and Álex Márquez (2019).

“I am very proud to announce my renewal with Honda Racing Corporation,” Márquez said. “HRC gave me the opportunity to arrive in MotoGP, and I am glad to join the LCR Honda Team at the end of 2020 and compete in a big team with great experience in MotoGP. I want to thank HRC and the LCR Honda Team for their trust in me to be able to continue in the Honda family, and I will work hard to prove their confidence with results. Now, I am eager to start the season in Jerez, and I am completely focused to give my best this year.”

HRC President Yoshishige Nomura added that “HRC are happy to continue working with Álex Márquez through the learning process in the MotoGP category for the next two seasons. After deep consideration and a thorough analysis of the current situation, we believe Álex has a great opportunity to grow in the premier class with full factory support inside the LCR Honda Team. We believe that by following this path over the next three seasons, we will achieve the results both HRC and Álex look for.”

2021 Honda MotGP Shakeup - Crutchlow
Cal Crutchlow

Cal Crutchlow, who has had an HRC contract and LCR ride since 2015, is now without a team for 2021. One possible 2021 destination for Crutchlow is Aprilia Racing Team Gresini. Currently, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini has Aleix Espargaró and Bradley Smith in its paddock, with factory rider Andrea Iannone suspended until June 2021 by the FIM due to testing positive for Drostanolone, a banned anabolic-androgenic steroid.

“HRC would like to extend their thanks to Cal Crutchlow for his diligent and tireless work since joining HRC in 2015,” an HRC spokesman said. “With three wins and 12 podiums, the British rider has been a valuable asset on and off track, a constant source of excellent feedback for the engineers, and a key part of developing the Honda RC213V in recent years. HRC wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Pol Espargaró (photo by Polarity Photo)

Pol Espargaró Career At A Glance

  • 2006: 125 GP (20th overall)
  • 2007: 125 GP (1 podium; 9th overall)
  • 2008: 125 GP (3 podiums; 9th overall)
  • 2009: 125 GP (2 wins; 5 podiums; 4th overall)
  • 2010: 125 GP (3 wins; 12 podiums; 3rd overall)
  • 2011: Moto2 (2 podiums; 13th overall)
  • 2012: Moto2 (4 wins; 11 podiums; 2nd overall)
  • 2013: Moto2 (6 wins; 10 podiums; World Champion)
  • 2014: MotoGP (6th overall)
  • 2015: MotoGP (9th overall)
  • 2016: MotoGP (8th overall)
  • 2017: MotoGP (17th overall)
  • 2018: MotoGP (1 podium; 14th overall)
  • 2019: MotoGP (11th overall)