MXGP contract talks begin in paddock, free agents exposed ahead of the new season.
The 2022 FIM Motocross World Championship has officially breached the halfway point now, which means that contract talks are underway. Things have not progressed quite as much as one would think, seeing as we are almost in July, but then there are very few elite riders who are actually in need of a contract. Heck, there are only three full-factory seats that are available and only one of those is wide open.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Ray Archer
Fourteen of the riders inside of the top twenty in the premier-class standings need a deal, but just a few of those riders are in a position to demand a significant salary. Expect most changes to occur at this point next year and, truthfully, manufacturers are already keeping an eye on that, as that will be the time to pivot and make a run at a championship.
1. Tim Gajser: The two-year contract that Tim Gajser signed with HRC in October of 2020 is about to expire, but it is thought that he has already extended that for another two terms. It is shocking that it’s not been confirmed yet, as it is thought that the deal was agreed on at the start of May.
2. Jeremy Seewer: Jeremy Seewer is in the first season of a two-year contract with the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP team. The contract was signed in July of 2021 and thus he is locked in for next season. Nothing is going to change for Seewer – he will be hot property in twelve months though.
3. Jorge Prado: The massive four-year contract that Jorge Prado signed with Pierer Mobility AG will expire at the end of the 2023 FIM Motocross World Championship, so he is not a free agent. Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing should be the same next term, with Mattia Guadagnini in MXGP and Simon Langenfelder in MX2.
4. Maxime Renaux: When Maxime Renaux moved to the premier division, he signed a two-year deal that’ll run to the end of the 2023 FIM Motocross World Championship. It would not be a shock if Yamaha end up inking an extension with ‘959’ very early on; he is their golden boy.
5. Glenn Coldenhoff: Glenn Coldenhoff will be a free agent at the end of this season, but it’s thought that he will go back to Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP. Yamaha is likely to run three riders yet again and, with Jago Geerts committed to MX2 for another season, a one-year deal would make a lot of sense.
6. Ruben Fernandez: Ruben Fernandez is vying for the second spot on HRC. Although some think of him as the favourite, no deal is set in stone and the direction that HRC will go in remains to be seen. The battle for that seat is between Fernandez and Mitch Evans – no one else is involved.
7. Brian Bogers: Brian Bogers will not retain his factory status on Austrian machinery beyond this term; he has already been informed of that. With the Standing Construct team in limbo as well, there is no word on what his future holds. ‘189’ is heralded as the greatest test rider in the paddock.
8. Pauls Jonass: In the same spot as his teammate, Austria will not back Pauls Jonass with factory machinery next season. Jonass has arguably got the highest ceiling of all the free agents; there are not many spots out there though, with ‘259’ expected to return to Yamaha and HRC choosing from a pool of two riders.
9. Jeremy Van Horebeek: The two-year contract that Jeremy Van Horebeek signed with Beta will expire at the end of September. Van Horebeek is performing remarkably well at the moment, but carries a high price tag and it remains to be seen whether anyone will be willing to entertain that.
10. Calvin Vlaanderen: Calvin Vlaanderen has no contract in place for next year and has caught the eye of some in the paddock, but no deal has been done yet. Now that he has a potent package with the Gebben squad, which includes a Star Racing engine, staying put is an attractive option.
11. Mitch Evans: Still in contention for the second HRC position, it remains to be seen where Mitch Evans could go if he does not land there. It is also unknown whether Honda will run the same programme as this season and give a full-factory bike to a rider on a satellite team, as they are doing with Fernandez. There should be a change to Honda’s structure of satellite teams.
12. Ben Watson: After only signing a one-year deal with Kawasaki, it is highly likely that Ben Watson is going to move on at the conclusion of the 2022 FIM Motocross World Championship. The second spot over at Kawasaki is a mystery at this point – Fernandez and Bogers have been linked there at points.
13. Alberto Forato: Alberto Forato has no contract for next year yet, although one would think that another term at SM Action GASGAS Racing Team Yuasa Battery would be most logical. Beta made a run at Forato last year though and, with Van Horebeek out of contract, those talks could arise again.
14. Jordi Tixier: Jordi Tixier is actually doing incredibly well. Doing his own programme is clearly something that works well and he has been very clear on his plans to expand for the future. Whilst it is unlikely that he will field a premier-class rider in the future, expect EMX riders to appear underneath his tent.
15. Henry Jacobi: There are rumours that suggest JM Racing could shut their doors at the end of the season, which would leave Henry Jacobi in need of a new ride. Jacobi has been impressive lately and could be a good option for a team like Gebben Van Venrooy Yamaha, right?
16. Brent Van Doninck: Expect Brent Van Doninck to return to Riley Racing Yamaha next season, as it seems that the team are very happy with his professionalism and commitment to his craft. It sounds like the team are ready to make a run at a bigger name to lead the team. Who? That remains to be seen.
17. Jed Beaton: Jed Beaton only signed a one-year deal with the F&H Kawasaki Racing Team and, after that injury at round two, needs to prove his worth on the big bike. The premier-class spot at F&H is something that a few riders are eyeing up, but there has been no real movement yet.
18. Thomas Olsen: After a horrendous fall at the Grand Prix of Latvia, which left him in a medically induced coma, it remains to be seen whether Thomas Olsen will return to racing at the highest level. The deal that he has with Austria will expire at the end of the current season.
19. Alvin Ostlund: Alvin Ostlund has no contract for the 2023 FIM Motocross World Championship yet and, at this point in time, has not started talks with anyone. Ostlund has had a great season, but will struggle to get a seat that is better than his current JK Yamaha ride.
20. Mattia Guadagnini: Currently working through his initial races aboard the MC 450F without pressure, Mattia Guadagnini has a contract with Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing for next year. This is a good situation for him to be in – there are a lot of riders who would be chasing that seat.
21. Tom Koch: Could a smaller team glance at Tom Koch for the 2023 FIM Motocross World Championship? Koch has proven that he is a consistent runner inside of the top fifteen and could thrive with more support. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that he will get rewarded for his efforts.
22. Romain Febvre: Romain Febvre signed a massive two-season contract one year ago, so will remain at the ‘green’ team for another season. This is further proof that next year will be huge for team moves; Kawasaki are heavily invested in the Frenchman at the moment.