Following Andrea Iannone announcing his exit from the Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP team, the Hamamatsu factory works has announced Moto2 racer Joan Mir will be joining the team for the 2019 and 2020 MotoGP seasons. All of 20, Joan Mir is a Moto3 champion and has secured a premier class seat alongside Alex Rins, who was officially retained until the end of 2020 in May this year. The announcement comes amidst massive the rider shuffle that took place last week with a host of riders switching teams for the 2019 season.
Joan Mir is touted to be the next big thing in MotoGP and was even said to be considered by Honda and Ducati for Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo's positions respectively. The Spanish racer started his Moto3 career in 2013 at the Australian GP and raced in the same class for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. He managed three podiums and one win during the 2016 season, while 2017 saw him take the championship title home with 10 victories, two second placed and one third place finishes. He currently tallies Marc Marquez's record of claiming 10 wins a single season in the lightweight class. Mir competes in the Moto2 class this year and has already taken his first two intermediate class podiums and sits fifth in the standings in his rookie year.
Speaking about bringing Joan Mir board, Suzuki Ecstar Project Leader - Shinichi Sahara said, "As a team we have always tried to look forward to long term development plans, which includes also making some bets on young riders that we feel can be an investment for the future. We did it in our debut year in 2015, we did it again in 2017 when we signed the debutant Alex Rins, who has been confirmed also this year, and we are further confirming this with the agreement with Joan Mir." Sahara further said that Suzuki wants to see young talent to grow and learn with the team.
With Suzuki, Mir gets a podium worthy bike to play with next season as he takes on the big wigs of the premier class championship. Both Suzuki riders Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins managed to bring podiums home respectively this season, which certainly showcase there's more that the team can achieve in the coming years.
Meanwhile, Iannone has been confirmed to join Aprilia factory works team for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Iannone will be stepping in place of Scott Redding, and will ride alongside Aleix Espargaro. The 28-year-old announced his association with Aprilia, soon after Suzuki announced that it won't be renewing its contract with Iannone at the end of this season.
A race winner with Ducati, the Italian rider has been a front runner this MotoGP season securing two podiums for Suzuki and taking fourth place in the Italian GP. Speaking about Iannone Aprilia, Romano Albesiano, Aprilia Racing Manager said, "With Iannone, we have another highly talented and fast rider who is also demonstrating his value this season. His arrival is a sign of the Piaggio Group and Aprilia's growing commitment to the MotoGP programme, where our bike has already demonstrated that it can rely on a valid technical base."
With the 12 slots on the factory teams now full, this leaves a number of riders uncertain for the 2019 season including Dani Pedrosa and Scott Redding. That said, we will be hearing an announcement from Pedrosa tomorrow, ahead of the Spanish GP scheduled this weekend.