MotoGP grid likely to shrink in 2019

The MotoGP grid is likely to lose two of its 24 bikes next year, Motorsport.com understands.

MotoGP grid likely to shrink in 2019
Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Team, first lap
Franco Morbidelli, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS
Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Franco Morbidelli, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS
Franco Morbidelli, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS
Alvaro Bautista, Angel Nieto Team, Takaaki Nakagami, Team LCR Honda
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
Alvaro Bautista, Angel Nieto Team
Alvaro Bautista, Angel Nieto Team

The premier class is currently populated by 12 two-bike teams, all of which are guaranteed their grid spots by the set of agreements and regulations that govern the championship.

However, following the management crisis that affected Honda customer outfit Marc VDS this year, which resulted in team boss Michael Bartholemy departing after conflict with owner Michael van der Straten, MotoGP having just 22 entries in 2019 is now a very real possibility.

The exact shape of the MotoGP roster still hinges on the outcome of the negotiations surrounding the mooted Petronas-backed Yamaha satellite team project.

Yamaha will lose its long-time satellite team Tech 3 to KTM next year, but looks set to keep four YZR-M1s on the grid.

Talks over the new Yamaha project, which was seen as Jorge Lorenzo's likely 2019 destination prior to his shock Honda deal, are at an advanced stage, with a potential line-up of Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli and Honda outcast Dani Pedrosa.

“The situation is not confirmed yet but I would say that talks are progressing very well,” Lin Jarvis told MotoGP.com when asked about a new satellite Yamaha team during the Barcelona weekend.

“I'm optimistic that we'll find a good solution, hopefully within the next couple of weeks there might be some positive news about plans for 2019 and beyond.”

It is understood there are two distinct possibilities for the Petronas-backed project.

One would entail a partnership with the Angel Nieto team (formerly Aspar) that currently fields Ducatis for Alvaro Bautista and Karel Abraham.

If this didn't come to fruition, the project would look to build up a team from scratch, perhaps buying assets from Marc VDS.

All of the aforementioned scenarios would likely mean a 22-bike field, in which case it would be logical for the stakeholders to reserve the two remaining spots for Valentino Rossi's long-anticipated move to MotoGP team management.

Rossi, whose VR46 organisation competes in Moto3 and Moto2, will remain a Yamaha MotoGP rider at least until the end of 2020, and has ruled out fielding a team in the premier class until then.

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