Moto2 championship favourite Franco Morbidelli will make the step up to the MotoGP world championship for 2018, after signing a two-year deal to remain with the squad as he moves to the premiere class.
A runaway favourite in 2017 in the middleweight series, the Italian-Brazilian Valentino Rossi protégé has taken four wins out of the season’s opening seven races, and starts tomorrow’s Dutch TT from pole positon after a commanding performance today on the Marc VDS Kalex.
The move to the top class has been rumoured at for a number of weeks now thanks to the 22-year-old’s strong results this season, but was finally confirmed by Morbidelli during this afternoon’s qualifying press conference at the Assen circuit.
Originally rumoured to be already tied to the Belgian squad thanks to a handshake agreement in his contract, paddock gossip nonetheless believes that a number of other teams also courted him, including the Pramac Ducati squad.
With both of the squad’s current duo of Jack Miller and Tito Rabat out of contract at the end of the 2017 season, it remains to be seen who Morbidelli will replace – but after a strong start to the year, Miller could well have done enough to fulfil his ambitions of remaining with the team for another year.
Meanwhile, former Moto2 world champion Rabat has been linked with both a move to the Avintia Ducati team and with the Honda World Superbike effort – a move that would make sense given his links with the manufacturer and series bosses Dorna’s desires to further promote the struggling production bike series.