Ducati refugee Andrea Iannone seals 2017 Suzuki MotoGP ride

Suzuki will recruit ex-Ducati rider Andrea Iannone to replace Yamaha-bound Maverick Vinales in its MotoGP team for 2017 and '18

Ducati refugee Andrea Iannone seals 2017 Suzuki MotoGP ride

Yamaha confirmed on Thursday morning ahead of the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello that it had picked Vinales as Jorge Lorenzo's replacement alongside Valentino Rossi.

Iannone had lost his Ducati seat earlier in the week, when the team opted to retain Andrea Dovizioso alongside the incoming Lorenzo instead.

With Yamaha having long made its interest in Vinales clear, Suzuki was always seen as a likely destination for whichever Ducati rider was ousted, and the jigsaw was completed with the official Iannone announcement.

Suzuki team principal Davide Brivio said Iannone was an ideal fit for the squad, which is in the second year of its return to MotoGP after a three-season absence.

"He is one of the top riders in MotoGP and he is also very passionate and motivated; which fits into our racing philosophy," he said.

"Our technical project is continuously improving since our debut in 2015 and we are working hard to make our GSX-RR very competitive so that it can fight consistently close to the top and for victory as soon as possible.

"We wanted a rider that could help Suzuki continue its road to the top.

"Andrea is a fast rider who has the hunger for success and his riding style could suit our machine's characteristics, therefore giving us good hopes for a positive partnership.

"Being in his fourth year in MotoGP he's also an experienced rider from which the whole team will benefit."

Iannone arrived in MotoGP with Ducati satellite team Pramac in 2013.

Though sometimes regarded as wild in the junior categories, his speed was not in question - and he had finished third in the Moto2 standings for three straight years from 2010-12.

His MotoGP performances impressed Ducati and he began receiving factory-specification parts by the middle of the 2014 season before being promoted to the works team last year.

The 26-year-old Italian's best MotoGP results so far came at his home race at Mugello last season, when he took pole and finished second.

Suzuki has yet to confirm its plans for its second seat, but current rider Aleix Espargaro is considered highly likely to stay on.

2017 MOTOGP GRID SO FAR
Yamaha: Valentino Rossi, Maverick Vinales
Honda: Marc Marquez (TBC), Dani Pedrosa
Ducati: Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso
Suzuki: Andrea Iannone, TBC
KTM: Bradley Smith, TBC
Aprilia: Sam Lowes, TBC
Tech3 Yamaha: Jonas Folger, TBC
LCR Honda: Cal Crutchlow

Yet to announce riders: Marc VDS, Pramac Ducati, Avintia Ducati, Aspar Ducati

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