Danilo Petrucci’s rumoured switch to KTM machinery in MotoGP has now been confirmed by the manufacturer with the Italian signing a one-year deal with the Tech 3 outfit.
Petrucci had been on the lookout for a new premier class berth since confirming his Ducati exit earlier this month after being replaced by Pramac man Jack Miller, earmarking the official KTM and Aprilia teams as potential destinations early on.
He subsequently visited KTM’s factory in Austria alongside manager Alberto Vergani last week, a meeting that impressed Petrucci and quickly started the ball rolling for the two parties to collaborate for 2021.
Petrucci has now been confirmed at the Tech3 squad while for 2021 Miguel Oliveira will step up to the factory team as team-mate to Brad Binder, who already had a contract for the ’21 season, while Iker Lecuona will remain at Tech 3 to partner Petrucci.
KTM’s 2021 line-up confirmation also rubber-stamps the exit of Pol Espargaro, who is expected to pen a deal alongside Marc Marquez at Repsol Honda.
Petrucci’s appointment to the Tech 3 satellite squad comes as a shock, however, with Miguel Oliveira’s potential to leave the KTM stable should he not receive the factory call-up the likely reason for the unexpected arrangement.
“I’m really happy about this opportunity that KTM have given me for the next two years. I feel that they trust me to show my value as a rider in this project,” said Oliveira.
“Since day one I have given my best to the bike and believed in its potential to achieve good results and this is what we want to deliver in the near future.
“I think we are in the right place to do it, and for me to develop as a rider. It’s a great, great opportunity. We still have to focus on 2020 but I feel grateful for this great challenge. Thanks to the KTM family.”
Oliveria has so far completed just one full premier class campaign, making his debut with his current Tech 3 team last year after graduating from Moto2.
The Portuguese racer scored six victories across three seasons in the intermediate class, managing to take the runners-up championship position with the KTM factory supported Ajo outfit in ’18 before making his MotoGP bow.
Oliveira showed impressive progress across his rookie campaign, securing a best result of eighth at KTM’s home event at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
Petrucci will be starting his ninth MotoGP season when he takes to the grid at Qatar on his new KTM at the beginning of next season, and his first not on Ducati machinery since ’15.
The Italian spent his first three seasons running with uncompetitive Claiming Rules Teams’ machinery run by the Ioda outfit, managing a best result of eighth at a soaking Valencia at the end of his maiden campaign in ’12.
His impressive performances for Ioda ultimately netted him a shot with Ducati and Petrucci joined the official satellite team Pramac for the ’15 campaign, where he took a podium at a rain-hit British Grand Prix, narrowly beaten by Valentino Rossi.
He would remain at Pramac for a further three seasons, picking up a further five rostrum finishes and a pair of eighth place overall championship results across this period before finally receiving his big break by joining the factory Ducati team for ’19.
He made an exceptional start to his time with the official outfit, never finishing outside the top six until the Czech GP in August and claimed an emotional first premier class win at his and Ducati’s home contest at Mugello.
But his form dropped off across the second half of the season, never again finishing inside the top six following Brno and slipping to sixth overall by the end of the year – a costly slump that ultimately led Ducati to replace him with Miller for ’21.
With Miller confirmed at Ducati – likely alongside Andrea Dovizioso once contract negotiations have been sorted – and Petrucci now set at Tech 3 along with Lecuona, with Binder and Oliveira at the senior team, the final pieces should begin to fall in regards to the ’21 MotoGP field.
Aprilia has yet to finalise a team-mate for Aleix Espargaro with current rider Andrea Iannone looking set to receive a lengthy racing ban for doping, while Pramac could be set to field an all-new line-up should Francesco Bagnaia fail to deliver once racing gets back underway at Jerez next month.