Current Moto2 championship leader Acosta is set to step up to the MotoGP world championship next year with KTM, although where remains a mystery.
KTM has four bikes spread across the factory team and the GasGas-branded Tech3 satellite team, but all the riders occupying those positions are under contract.
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Both Brad Binder and Jack Miller are contracted to the factory team until the end of next year, while Tech3’s Espargaro has penned a two-year deal following his switch from Honda.
That initially left Moto2 champion Augusto Fernandez as the likely rider to step aside to make room for Acosta, having only agreed to a one-year deal.
But at the British Grand Prix earlier this month, he told Autosport in an exclusive interview that he had agreed to extend his deal with KTM to stay on the grid next season.
“You think about it and you worry, but now he’s very happy to stay here,” Fernandez said at Silverstone when asked by Autosport about Acosta’s impending promotion.
“I’m happy to stay with the same people because that helps a lot.”
August Fernandez, Tech3 GASES Factory Racing
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Nothing, so far, has been announced regarding Fernandez’s renewal, although KTM CEO Stefan Pierer said in an interview with Speedweek last month that the Spaniard would be staying.
Asked again about his 2024 situation on Thursday at the Austrian Grand Prix – where an announcement on Acosta’s future is expected – Fernandez told Autosport: “I have no idea [why my future hasn’t been announced]you should ask them.
“I have a contract. We’ll see. We know what this world is like, but I have been told and what we have signed is that next year I will stay where I am.
“But I can’t say more, you have to ask them. In theory, I’m staying with this team and these colors, but we’ll see what happens.”
Despite signing a two-year deal with KTM, Pierer told Speedweek last month that Espargaro would return for a second season “if he performs as expected”.
Those comments have thrown into question the future of Espargaro, who has been sidelined with a serious injury following a crash in FP2 in Portugal until last week’s British GP.
Asked by Autosport about Pierer’s comments during the Silverstone weekend, Espargaro noted: “We’re all here, we have to play, it’s no surprise.
Pol Espargaro, Tech3 GASES Factory Racing
Photo: GasGas Factory Racing
“I’ve already been to MotoGP [almost] 10 years and I always have a clear idea that if I want to stay in MotoGP, I have to perform.
“It’s the only way, and especially in the situation I’m in coming back from a huge injury and not competing that much, the doubts are there, for sure, but the doubts are there for everyone, including me.
“Well, I’m the first to want to go back to my normal state. I have definitely signed a contract for 2023 and 2024, but I am definitely the first one who wants to play and if not I will leave.
“I love the factory, I’m just another rider for this factory, but I really feel like I’m part of it, I’m part of this family and I won’t hesitate to part if there’s an upgrade, because what I want is to see the factory shine.”
However, speaking exclusively to Autosport on Thursday in Austria, Espargaro insists he will stay for 2024.
“The rumors have always been there since I was in MotoGP, but they don’t affect me, they came out of nowhere because I signed this year and next year, I have two years,” he said.
“At KTM, Brad, Jack and I have two years and Augusto one. With that I am very calm, I will be in this team in 2024 and this will help me develop.
Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Photo by: KTM Images
“The level of MotoGP at the moment is very high and you need some time and more after an injury.
“Rumors are the least important thing to me, rumors are just that, rumors. I have closed [the deal for] this year and next year”.
KTM is exploring the option of adding a second satellite team to its 2024 roster, approaching LCR and Gresini.
LCR insists it will honor its contract with Honda for 2024, while Gresini recently renewed its deal with Ducati.
KTM has been ruled out of taking over the two grid slots vacated by Suzuki at the end of last year, as Dorna Sports is holding them for a new factory company.
It has been rumored for some time that a new KTM satellite team would field Acosta and Marc Marquez as his Honda racing continues.
Additional reporting by Megan White
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