Andrea Iannone has struggled to adapt to the new Suzuki in MotoGP and after seven races, his best result is 7th, at COTA. 15th in the championship is a disaster for last year’s Austrian Grand Prix winner and I have a feeling that we are in for some mid-season musical chairs. Lets consider he will be moving (purely for the scenario), where are his options?
Red Bull Honda in World Superbikes have a vacancy, following the death of former MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden. Although Iannone has never been in the World Superbike paddock and has never rode for Honda in any class, you might have to consider a move here a little bit far-fetched even if it is practical. WSBK bosses however are desperate for big names and not ones that are at the end of their career. How much would they be willing to pay Maniac Joe on an internal Dorna transfer?
Following a run of poor form stemming from unprofessionalism and poor team attitude, Sam Lowes’ seat for 2018 is already uncertain but I wouldn’t put it past him leaving the Gresini Aprilia Team before then. Andrea Iannone was rumoured to join the team last season, as Italian owner Fausto Gresini was desperate for an Italian to join the Italian marque. Iannone would suit the bike, as Aleix Espargaro’s development has been incredible. Stick Iannone on the bike and he could be the one to put the bike on the podium. Then again, I had him down as a title threat after the tests, so what do I know…
There is another option to move to World Superbikes and that could be if Barni Racing expand to two machines. It is no secret that Marco Barnabo is looking to expand the team and it is unlikely he will field someone other than Xavi Fores. Iannone has Ducati contacts and has ridden the Panigale on track days at Misano so he does have the experience of the bike, an advantage compared to Stefan Bradl who received his Honda late on. It might be a pay cut but I think any rider would rather be winning than riding around at the back of the field with no confidence and receiving a big pay cheque. In fact, do they still do it by check? Answers on a tweet.
With the recent departure of Davide Giugliano from Tyco BMW, there is an opportunity for him to join an already star-studded British Superbike line up. However, having had one lunatic Italian, I’m not sure the Neil family’s blood pressure could sustain Andrea, nor could the team’s bank balance. It’s a long shot and BSB would certainly welcome him.
Besides those options, I’m not sure where else Andrea could fit. There’s a 0.01% chance he might drop back into Moto2 but who would it be? World Supersport certainly wouldn’t appeal to him and I don’t think any team in MotoGP would be looking to expand to three bikes.
After all that however, I personally can’t see him leaving Suzuki, less than halfway through the initial contract. Iannone is one of the most determined riders on the grid and he will make it work. I think it is more down to the bike and how difficult the front end is rather than Andrea Iannone having lost his ability. It does go to show how valuable Vinales was to Suzuki. It’s a little bit like the Stoner-Ducati situation.
Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko