Yamaha have officially confirmed the departure of Pol Espargaró for 2017, with the Spaniard expected to announce his move to join teammate Bradley Smith at the new KTM factory team for the next two years.
Yamaha have been keen to pay tribute to Espargaró, however, after enjoying success with the former Moto2 world champion since his move, including top satellite, best rookie and front row starts. On top of that, he also took them to victory at the Suzuka 8 Hour, a title he’s set to defend before his departure.
The news comes as somewhat of a shock, and leaves his vacant Monster Tech 3 Yamaha seat as one of the most sought after in the paddock.
However, the move may also help steer Moto2 racer Alex Rins towards Tech 3 and Yamaha. Keen to secure a factory ride for his first year up, Rins may well be forced to settle for a factory Yamaha contract at their junior squad in anticipation of a move to the factory team in 2019.