Andrea Dovizioso to remain at Ducati, meaning Andrea Iannone will replace Viñales at Suzuki, with a young Moto2 hotshoe taking the other seat at Suzuki.
With the news that Maverick Viñales (right) has signed with Movistar Yamaha, it has been learned that Andrea Dovizioso will be staying at Ducati, meaning current teammate Andrea Iannone (left) will very likely be going to Suzuki to replace Viñales.
With the announcement that Dani Pedrosa has renewed his contract with Repsol Honda for another two years (contrary to numerous reports in Europe stating that he would be moving to Movistar Yamaha) and the news—that we confirmed through reliable sources—that Suzuki Ecstar's Maverick Viñales finally signed with Movistar Yamaha for the 2017-2018 seasons last week, most of the MotoGP factory seats are finally falling into place for 2017. With both the Repsol Honda team (Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa) and Movistar Yamaha team (Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales) both locked up, the only remaining question marks are who will be partnering Jorge Lorenzo at Ducati, and who will be taking Viñales' place at Suzuki?
Well, it appears that Andrea Iannone's last-turn gaffe at the Argentina round definitely helped ruin his chances of staying at Ducati. Sources tell us that he was called to the home offices at Borgo Panigale today, ostensibly to inform him that his services would no longer be needed after the 2016 MotoGP season. Other sources also tell us that Andrea Dovizioso has been offered a two-year renewal contract to stay at Ducati Corse, and that it is likely the ink has already dried on his signature.
With the knowledge that its star rider Viñales was likely to bolt from the team, it's obvious that Suzuki had a Plan B in case he did decide to leave. Sources tell us that Plan B included Iannone as the number one rider, with a young Moto2 hotshoe as the second rider. Iannone reportedly said that he had a "good offer" from another team at Jerez, and it's easy to believe that offer was from Suzuki. The young Moto2 rider being sought is said to Alex Rins (who currently leads the Moto2 championship standings), although it's common knowledge that both Yamaha and Honda are also courting the young Spaniard.
With more than half the season still to be run, you have to wonder how Iannone will feel now about the "team passing orders" that were handed down by Ducati management following the Termas de Rio Hondo debacle. Especially with the team's home race at Mugello coming up...