Pol Espargaró confirmed for Honda in 2021; Crutchlow departs


Pol Espargaró will partner Marc Márquez at Repsol Honda in 2021, with Alex Márquez moving to LCR and Cal Crutchlow leaving the team

Pol Espargaro in 2019

Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images

Pol Espargaró will join Repsol Honda next year, replacing Alex Márquez who has yet to race for the team.

Honda has confirmed the much-rumoured move from KTM, which will see the former Moto2 champion partner Marc Márquez on a two-year contract.

It also announced a two-year deal for Alex Márquez to move to the satellite LCR team in 2021 with full factory support, replacing Cal Crutchlow. Takaaki Nakagami is expected to remain.

The flurry of Monday morning announcements, ahead of next weekend’s season-opening MotoGP round in Jerez, also included news of Franco Morbidelli’s contract at Petronas SRT being extended by two years.

But there’s been no confirmation yet of Valentino Rossi’s anticipated move to the remaining seat at the team.

Despite the demotion, Honda underlined its support for Alex Márquez. “[He] has a whole season ahead to gain experience and make progress on HRC’s long term project, which sees the 24-year old Spanish rider join the LCR Honda Team at the end of 2020,” it said in a statement.

Alex Márquez said that he welcomed the move. “I am very proud to announce my renewal with Honda Racing Corporation,” he 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.”

Crutchlow is thought to be in line for Andrea Iannone’s seat at Aprilia, following the rider’s ban. He may also find an opening at Ducati if Andrea Dovizioso leaves at the end of the year.

Paying tribute to its departing rider, Honda said: “HRC would like to extend their thanks to Cal Crutchlow for his diligent and tireless work since joining HRC in 2015 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 endeavours.”