MotoGP Silly Season Update 2: Satellite Hondas, Leased Yamahas, Crutchlow, Redding And Nicky Hayden

Just when it looked like the MotoGP silly season was getting ready to wrap up, a few new developments threw a spanner or two in the works. A week ago, most MotoGP pundits were convinced that Cal Crutchlow would be going to Ducati, Scott Redding would be moving up with his Marc VDS Racing team, and there was next to no interest in Yamaha's leased engines. At the Sachsenring, many things changed, in part at the instigation of Honda, and in part because of Yamaha.

Honda has made the biggest move in the market. At the Sachsenring, credible rumors emerged of Honda attempting to secure both Redding and Crutchlow, in two different moves. HRC's approach to Crutchlow could cause the biggest upset. The Japanese factory is known to be very impressed by Crutchlow, but their dilemma is that all four Honda prototype seats are ostensibly taken for 2014. While both Marquez and Pedrosa have contracts for next year, and Bautista is locked in at Gresini for 2014, Stefan Bradl's seat at LCR Honda could possibly be available. While Bradl is locked in to a two-year deal with HRC, Honda hold the option to decide not to take the second year, potentially freeing up Bradl's bike, and that seat could then be taken by Cal Crutchlow.

Bradl's camp insist that the deal to extend is close to completion, and that Honda are happy with Bradl's performance. Yet witnesses at the Sachsenring heard some very heated exchanges going on in the LCR Honda truck when HRC staff came for talks. Putting two and two together (something all too often in the paddock results in a number which does not resemble four), it suggest that HRC are trying to persuade Lucio Cecchinello to cut Bradl loose and take Crutchlow in his stead. That deal would be ideal for Crutchlow - the LCR Honda machine is a factory-supported Honda RC213V, and a slot at LCR would give him a shot at the Repsol Honda seat in 2015, when the contracts for both current riders - or more particularly, Dani Pedrosa - are up. LCR is less enamored of the deal, with Cecchinello being very happy with the way the partnership has worked and pleased with the progress Bradl has made. But HRC has expected podiums, and Bradl has not delivered those.

The LCR truck was not the only place where tempers were running high. An exasperated Herve Poncharal was seen having meetings with top Yamaha staff, and his general mood after those meetings was not good. Poncharal has made no secret of his desire to keep Crutchlow, but Yamaha have not been able to offer him the support he would like. Yamaha is rumored to be putting pressure on Tech 3 to sever his contract with Bradley Smith, as this would allow Yamaha to slot Espargaro into Smith's place, and keep Crutchlow where he is, though finances and support are the major issues here. Both Poncharal and Cecchinello are finding that running a satellite team is the worst of both worlds: you have to pay to lease the bike, but you still don't have the freedom to put whatever rider you like on it.

Cal Crutchlow could still stay at Tech 3 Yamaha, but he knows he has no chance of a factory ride in 2014 there. Jorge Lorenzo remains the best of the Yamaha riders, and Valentino Rossi is both extremely competitive and a huge marketing boon for Yamaha. Crutchlow's other option is a move to Ducati, which may be lucrative financially but remains a risk, given the continued problems Ducati are having at making the Desmosedici competitive. There is no doubting the efforts they are making, but questions remain over just how effective those efforts will be.

Nicky Hayden will be the man who Crutchlow replaces if he goes to Ducati, the American having been told he will not be kept in the factory team for 2014. Hayden's loyalty to the Italian factory will not go rewarded, much to his dismay. The Kentuckian believes that the fact he was competitive with Valentino Rossi while the Italian was at Ducati, and is on a par with Andrea Dovizioso, who scored multiple podiums with Yamaha, proves that he can still be competitive on a good bike. But Hayden has his age and his longevity in the class against him. Whenever I have asked team managers whether they have any interest in Hayden, the reply always centers around the fact that he has been in the series so long already, rather than any doubts over his ability. "What we need are fresh faces, young riders, to add a bit of excitement," one team manager told me last year. With so many fast riders coming up from Moto2, and more on the way, team managers are more interested in trying to bring on young talent with which to try to face Marc Marquez for the next five years. Hayden, who will be 32 at the end of July, is not the man team managers have in mind to take on that task. Hayden's future appears to be in World Superbikes, where he will land a top-level ride, and help grow the US audience for the series, one of Dorna's biggest goals. 

Though the other satellite Honda is tied up for 2014, Alvaro Bautista could find himself across the garage from the man who will replace him in 2015. Scott Redding admitted that he had 'one preferred option' among the several from which he can choose for 2014. That option is to race the production Honda which Gresini will be using in 2014, with a view to replacing Bautista in 2015, after Redding has had a year of experience in MotoGP. The sticking point for the talks currently underway is the support which Redding would receive in 2015. Redding and his manager Michael Bartholemy have no appetite to be taking on the likes of Marc Marquez while using Showa suspension and Nissin brakes. But Bautista was given the contract at Gresini precisely because he agreed to continue with Showa and Nissin, and Gresini is keen to continue. Not least because the development contracts which he has with the Japanese suspension and brake suppliers are much more attractive financially than having to pay for Ohlins and Brembo support. Redding wishes to be competitive, however, and though both Showa and Nissin are close, they are not quite at the level of Ohlins and Brembo.

It may not be Bautista who Redding replaces, however. The former 125cc world champion is, like Hector Barbera at BQR, one Spaniard too many in the premier class. Dorna has already expressed their disquiet with Yamaha for moving Pol Espargaro into the Tech 3 team for 2014, as the series organizer believes there are already too many Spaniards in the class. Dorna may prefer to see Nicky Hayden remain in MotoGP, as the American remains extremely popular in the US. Gresini may elect to sever Bautista's contract early on performance grounds, and move Hayden into that slot. Gresini's dilemma is that his sponsors are largely Italian, and he would ideally like an Italian in his team. But given Hayden's universal popularity, he may be able to sell that idea to his sponsors.

The Honda production racer at Gresini means that there will be at least one of the dumbed-down RC213Vs on the grid for 2014, but whether the other four will be sold is still uncertain. At Assen, Repsol Honda team principal Livio Suppo told me that they would sell all five bikes, but it is hard to see where they will end up. There has been interest from Paul Bird's PBM team, who looks likely to field Michael Laverty and another British rider. Shane Byrne's name has been mentioned, though that would mean leaving a championship-winning career in BSB. If the rumors are correct, Bird could be about to pull the plug on his BSB team and focus on MotoGP, meaning Byrne would have to either move elsewhere or come back to MotoGP. However, the presence of HRC favorite Jonathan Rea at the Sachsenring fueled speculation about a slot for the Ulsterman in MotoGP next season, and PBM would be a logical place for him to land, aboard a production racer. There has also been talk of the Avintia Blusens BQR team buying a couple of production Hondas, but that team also has an option to remain with the Kawasaki engines and FTR-built frame which they are currently using. If the long-rumored pneumatic valve engine turns up, that bike could be a more competitive package.

Yamaha's engine lease deal is close to seeing its first takers, and it will not be with Kalex, as was first expected. The NGM Mobile Forward team is believed to have signed a deal to lease two engines, to be housed in a chassis built by the team's current chassis supplier FTR. Yamaha is set to offer support to FTR in designing a chassis, but though the engine package looks competitive at first glance, it is a risk for the Buckinghmanshire firm. If the bike is competitive, then the credit will go to Yamaha's engine. If the bike is not competitive - or the riders chosen to race the bike are not competitive - then the blame will be placed squarely with FTR, whether the blame belongs there or not. Colin Edwards looks set to stay on for one more year, but who the second rider might be is as yet unknown. Current man Claudio Corti could retain his place.

The Yamaha and Honda non-MSMA entry options are looking rather expensive, however. The Yamaha will cost well over a million euros including the chassis, while the price for the Honda production racer has gone up to 1.2 million euros, with an update package for the second year of ownership coming in around half a million. The alternative is to go with Aprilia, which are offering to lease ART machines for 400,000 euros a season. Given Aleix Espargaro's outstanding results on the bike, that looks like a pretty attractive option. The question for teams using the ART machines is what Aprilia intends to do next season. Will they use the spec Magneti Marelli software and take 24 liters of fuel and 12 engines, or will they stick with their Aprilia software, and try to manage with 20 liters of fuel and just 9 engines?

The Power Electronics Aspar team looks set to stick with Aprilia next season, and right now, it looks like they will retain both of their current riders. That makes sense for Aleix Espargaro, despite his outstanding performance this year, as it puts him on the market for 2015, when almost everyone's contracts will be up. Espargaro has caught the eye of many a team manager, and is sure to be in line for a prototype (or rather, MSMA entry, as we must now call them) ride at some point in the future.

Two more of the current CRT teams will stay as they are for 2014 as well. Karel Abraham will continue for another year on the Aprilia ART with the Cardion AB team, the bike doing exactly what they want it to do. Abraham has suffered a number of injuries this season, making it hard to judge his progress. The IODA Racing team will also stick with their current crop of bikes, as they have already invested in the Suter BMW they are contesting. They have little incentive to trade up, as they do not believe they will get vastly improved performance if they spend a significant amount on a Honda production racer.

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My head is spinning....information overload. I need to sit somewhere quiet (and cool) and digest this :O)

..... there was a reason I read this website.

Yet again, (as always) one of only a small handful of people with correct information & the circus knowledge to write it.

Some other sites are "quoting" such utter nonsense it's laughable.

Great write up.

From what I understand he pressed for the extension into 2014 after agreeing to continue with Showa and Nissin in order to protect his seat, in case that very development work made it impossible to secure the results necessary to score a ride on the "free market" otherwise. If now Gresini would be able to sever that contract on a performance clause - even though performance was the very reason to make the contract in the first place - then it would be either extremely poor form on Gresini/HRC side or whoever negotiated the contract for Bautista should brush up on their law education to make these things actually binding next time. irrelevant contracts seem to be in the racing world. Whether organizer, manufacturer, team or rider, it seems contracts are largely symbols of intent (although what that makes letter of intent I cannot imagine) rather than binding contracts. It seems pretty lousy to many outside racing but I guess it would be difficult to enforce a contract in racing when one party is not enthused or committed given how much of performance is based on precisely that.

Another great read as ever - thanks!

And now let's imagine the following scenario. We’ve just seen Dani sustain another injury to add to the already extensive list affecting his battered and brittle body. What if he does race and win this weekend at Laguna, and then goes on to secure the title? Champion at last!
The day after the celebrations finish he wakes up and thinks, “Actually that’s enough. At the end of the season I’m off to sail my yacht into the sunset (are you coming too Alberto? I need a cabin boy). Thanks HRC but enough is enough. Bye bye!”

Here are three reasons he may think this way:
~ An understandable reluctance to expose himself to further possible injuries with another season’s racing in 2014.
~ He has already expressed, admittedly some time ago now, post-injury doubts about motivation to continue in MotoGP.
~ MM93 will only get much harder to beat on the same bike.

And hey presto the second factory Honda seat becomes available for next season – cue frantic negotiations almost everywhere!

Would it be feasible for him to renege on his contract? Would he even want to? Racers don’t quit easily after all – and he’s shown he has sizeable cojones!
Many ifs and buts in this supposition but isn’t that what Silly Season’s all about?!

... that Dani not win this weekend and not win the championship and HRC being the ones to want to cancel the contract. Same results re frantic negotiations but different path. Furthermore HRC vice president, Nakamoto did say this year was now or never for Dani. That doesn't sound like the language one uses if one intends to permit him another season, regardless of contracts- unless he wins.

I did read another report concerning the exchanges in the LCR truck, which is that Bradl is not happy with the salary on offer as an HRC-contracted rider. He is reportedly claiming to have earned more in Moto2 than he does in MotoGP, and is not happy to go forward on the same footing. Livio Suppo, on the other hand, is allegedly pointing to the global downturn in the economy and its consequences on salaries. So perhaps something of a contractual standoff.

Bearing in mind that Dorna are prepared to find money to ease Cal Crutchlow's transition onto a factory-supported ride, could finances play a major role in determining LCR's 2014 lineup?

While I can't really see Bautista losing his ride, having just been given the extension, the Italian sponsors at Gresini would be crazy to pass up Nicky. He's already been on an Italian bike for 6 seasons and I can't think of an Italian who doesn't know who he is. Spaniard Bautista is not likely pitching much product and better having one more American on the grid and one less Spanish rider the way I see it. Nicky is better for MotoGP than Baustista is, any day.

1. If Honda don't steel Cal away from Tech 3... then Bradley Smith will be forced to move to NGM Forward racing. Guaranteed now that they have signed with Yamaha as an engine supplier. Its been rumoured for a while and they'll do contract gymnastics to force him over to NGM along with Colin. No way he's staying at Tech3

He seems like a nice kid, but he can't compete with the top guys. No matter how much Randy Mamola coaches him.

That being said... do we need another Spaniard and another Espargaro in MotoGP?

2. I really really hope Nicky Hayden goes to Gresini. We need to have him MotoGP. Everyone loves him. And he's actually going fly on that Honda!!! What a mess it has been at Ducati.

No, Ducati at a competitive level and no Suzuki for 2014 is killing the championship. Only 4 real rides that can win these days.

...really doing so bad? He has not far off the total points Cal Crutchlow scored as Rookie of the Year and is currently placed further up the championship ratings.

Like Alvaro signing to develop on the proviso of a two year deal, Smith did the same in Moto2.

If either of these two are 'forced' aside, these contracts need rethinking, especially as the positions of power favour the teams and manufacturers. It cannot look professional to those outside the paddock looking in that contracts can be cast aside because of a perceived better offer.

(Bradl+Honda)+(Bautista+Honda)/Nicky*Crutchlow^2-(Yamaha+Tech3)/(Honda+Nissin*Showa)+(Dorna*pi) ± WSBK = I don't have a clue

Whew, that's some good stuff, thanks, really great info...

It would really suck to see Nicky leave GP's, but man, I would love to see him on a competitive WSBK bike.

As a lifelong American Ducati fan I hope Nicky's loyalty does not go unrewarded. MotoGP does need to bring up some of these young talented riders. Nicky is old for the class. Yet, he is still riding at the same level as his fellow world champions when they ride the Desmosedici. If Ducati feels a need to put someone else on his seat then I would love to see Nicky on a Panigale next year. Former GP winners have a history of doing well at WSBK. The Panigale needs some fresh blood. And, with the restrictors off and a season of data, I am confident the Duc could win again in WSBK, especially with Hayden's frameless chassis experience. Ducati, give NH69 a lucrative and competitive contract in WSBK. America wants him on a Ducati!

Marreco, for as much as Nicky has the Ducati and it's frameless chassis down, let's get something straight. Americans hold a small majority of the interest in MotoGP. There are no American riders in WSB and if you think Nicky is going to jump over there and make some huge impact on the American market and be the Panigale's fresh blood, you are so mistaken. America doesn't want to see Nicky on a Ducati, America wants to see Nicky in MotoGP where they are already familiar with this sport. Americans aren't going to chase down a new series just because Nicky is there - only a small few. Nicky back on a Honda would revive him personally. He has spent 6 years on a failed project. I don't even know the guy but can see the dejection on his face every time the camera is in front of him. You think going to WSB and sticking him on a Panigale is a morale uplifter? This guy would do anything to stay in MotoGP, even if it means riding the Gresini Honda. I say that like it's a bad thing, but truth is his results would increase 10 fold from having been on the Duc. Nicky didn't want to stay at Ducati for a 7th season of failure, Nicky just wants to stay in MotoGP where he belongs.

Nicky doesn't get enough (if any) credit for his accomplishments from Honda or the fans for being the first to defeat VR while he dominated the class. Watching him win Laguna and the emotion he had was awesome and the joy has been beaten from him.
His win is treated with the same asterik that Schwantz gets for some reason.
Admittedly he was never a winning machine for Honda but was consistent enough to win Honda their WC after VR had wiped the floor with them. How many factory spec bikes did Honda unleash to beat Vale?
Sending him on to a Panigale for "fresh blood" is unneccessary and a punishment - the bike is brand new and also happens to be significantly underperforming at SBK level (ok in superstock).
Lastly, in my own head, Ducati sells bikes in America because of their historical connotation of being a sexy bike and their ubiquitous branding. Their bikes are everywhere and even the Ducati sound is dubbed over nearly any scene involving a motorcycle.
Conversely, BMW is selling more S1000RRs than any other import here in the states. Is that due to Marco Melandri and Chaz? I don't think so.
America's lack of interest in SBK is due to lack of promotion from the Flamini Bros and now Dorna and the promoters here in the states. NH69 is not going to fix this.
His results beating Vale and staying with Dovi says he's still fast. I would to see him on a Japanese bike again to show what he can do.

I met Nicky when he was 13, and saw him through his club and early AMA racing days. Everything they say is true, nice person, tireless worker, never-say-die. Which is part of his problem. He won't quit his team. But if Ducati fire him, (ingratious rat bastards, they should give him a severance bonus that would pay for a Honda proddy bike ) I see it as a blessing in disguise.

Like Vale, put Nicky on a proper GP bike, he'll be reborn. Honda wants someone to race their production racer? NH69 is a competitive rider who will do all the testing Honda wants, and promo events, too. He would be the benchmark for the new bike, and I think surprise some people. remember, he tested and raced the Honda spring-valve to pneumatic HRC transition machines.

The American top-end sport bike sales, and worldwide, would be significant. Besides Vale, the race fans I meet around the world are all aware and fans of one other rider-Nicky. They respect him as a professional. Maybe not a winning machine, but he's the everyman's GP rider. I truly hope he gets on a Honda again, and I'm no corporate Honda lover. But compared to the Ducati train wreck? No brainer.

WSBK? Does anyone actually watch that sh_t? I downloaded a race a few weeks ago, first one I seen in several years, my how that series has turned to sh_t. I doubt I'd even watch a single race even if Nicky did end up there. I like Nicky, it's just too bad the only ride he could get anymore in GPs is on that worthless heap of shit. He'd probably have more fun back in the states flat-tracking than riding more Italian trash in a second rate series.

Why no talk of the other Ducati seats. Redding to replace Spies seems plausible, possibly with MarcVDS taking over the second Ducati "junior" factory bike from Pramac.

On a more fanciful note it would be ironic indeed if Hayden ended up on a HRC Honda at Gresini, considering the way Honda treated him in 06 & 07. Nothing would make me smile more than seeing Alberto's face the first time Nicky back on a Honda beats Dani.....

Hayden has been around a long time, 2nd to VR46, in MotoGP! If Hayden can make it back to Honda in Motogp for another couple seasons on anything... it will be better for his career! Hayden can ride but more importantly he is a marketing genius first and foremost! Nicky would do wonders for Honda in the US Market to sell products. Then in Europe when Honda sends him to WSB to ride their replacement for the CBR1000rr... he will clean house! Making more money for Honda and himself.

I'd like to see Nicky do well again in MotoGP, but lets face facts here. In all his MotoGP years, he has won three races. If he is lucky enough to secure a Honda next year, he will not all of a sudden be back to racing for the podium. I say, if he can get a factory ride on a Panigale in SBK, he should take it. He would have a legitimate shot at the podium or even wins. I looked forward to watching SBK as much as I did MotoGP when Ben Spies was there. Having Nicky there would be huge, assuming that Speed or some other TV station would carry the races. It's not that America doesn't want Nicky on a Ducati, it's more that America wants Nicky at the front of the pack, regardless of what he's riding. His only chance of being at the front of the pack is in SBK.

3 races won is more than everyone except Rossi, Lorenzo, and Pedrosa. 1 championship is more than everyone except Rossi and Lorenzo. I'd bet he would do a damn sight better than Bautista on a Honda, and liklely better than Bradl as well. Top 5 is well within the realm of possibility.

It won't happen though. I don't understand why people are rating Aleix Espargaro over Nicky. The Aprilia is clearly a better bike in every respect except for overall power.

Sucks to see this, Nicky has proved how talented of a rider he is and the bottom line is he has not had a good bike in a long time! 2006 he was finally coming into his own and Honda goes off and changes the bike to compliment the Spanish Golden Boy... Lets be honest the bike was designed for a midget and he struggled, then its 6 long dreadfull years with a company that cant get out of its own way, I dont care if Casey won on the bike, everyone else has struggled and Nicky has really done no worse than any other Ducati rider... Well if he is gone then I am gone. I only watch to see his progress and I do like some of the other riders It sucks to not see an American star in the field. I would bet on a Honda or Yamaha he is fighting for podiums. So lame.....

The Panigale isn't even close to being competitive in WSBK , Checa struggles for a top ten. Nicky would be foolish to go to WSBK on a Ducati as there would be no chance for a championship ! Now on the BMW he would have a shot ! If he stays in MotoGP on a satellite Honda podiums maybe , championship no. I'd love to see him win again , but with what's on the table/rumored that doesn't seem likely. Then
there's that elusive mile win !!! If I were him I'd come home and strap on the steel shoe and give it a go ! Buy a house , raise a family and enjoy your success !! It's not worth it to run around in 7th place in either series !!

Not sure if the Panigale is the problem in WSBK or the fact that Checa has a shoulder injury that's stopping him being competitive. After all, 1st race of the year he put it on pole at Philip Island, then had the bad 'off' that has ruined the rest of the season so far.

I heard say on Eurosport that Checa is up for retiring at the end of the year. That would leave a way in for Hayden. I'd like to see him up the front again, and as the Panigale is a good superstock bike, surely it can be developed into a good superbike (providing there aren't any more silly restrictions).

I think WSBK would benefit from Nicky hugely (and then Rossi in 2015) and Dorna may well be seeing it the same way.

David, what an elaborate and fantastic piece of work you've put together. Awesome!

My guess is that HRC would like to keep Bradl, but not on a factory-supported bike that he has now. We're all aware that Nakamoto is keen on Bradl as a development rider. So why not put Bradl on the new production racer, preferably in Cecchinello's team and help HRC to develope a competitive alternative?

Honda would be very smart to secure Cal on a factory supported satellite bike. He is as fast as anybody and his racecraft is improving. Having Pedrosa, MM and CC on the their brand makes Honda a much bigger force to steal championship points from Yamaha every round. Having Nicky would be smart too. Ducati could end up with Dovi and Iannone on their factory bikes and rookies on their junior team. Nobody knows if Spies can come back. Nobody will know until Indy, and by then these deals could be done. What a great article!

Has anyone thought about Monster in all of this?

Cal is a huge marketing commodity for them and the pressure they are applying to Poncheral and Jarvis to keep Cal on one of their bikes must be huge. What Cal wants is a factory bike, preferably a Yamaha equal to Lorenzo and Rossis but failing that he may be swayed by a Honda offer. But in reality would an HRC supported Honda at LCR or Gresini put him in any better position than he is right now? He would still be down the pecking order behind the Repsols, so if he stays at Tech 3 at least he would be on a bike he knows very well and is very close to the official works bikes in spec. Ducati? I really hope not.

MotoGP has an embarrassment of riches in rider talent and too few good rides because of the lack of other factory participation, and the stupid rule limiting factories to only two official works bike entries. If Repsols could run three bikes for Dovi to be in the team a couple of years ago why not now? Just like the rookie rule was waived for Marquez I hope Dorna will do the same to see Cal on a works bike.

The same applies for Canada - Speed does not show it here iether, so just how serious IS Dorna about promoting WSB in North America?
Not very IMHO.
As for Bein Sport I can't find it available here in Canada so WSB is virtually non existent here now.
Does anyone care - apparently not Dorna.

I think what Cal wants most of all is more money. He complains about the bike, but in his interviews he always mentions it is time for him to be paid properly. According to him his compensation went down when he joined MotoGP. At least that is the way I remember it.

If Dorna really wanted to expand WSBK in the US they might try making it possible for us to watch it. It.s not on Speed Channel any more, you can't streem it like you can MotoGP off of their website. You could fill it with American riders, it still doesn't get as much coverage here as AMA

Regarding tv coverage. I happen to get BeIN Sport, and I think their WSBK coverage is great. We get superpole on Saturday, and then sbk race 1, supersport, and sbk race 2 all in one program. I much prefer their coverage to Speed's MotoGP coverage. Speed doesn't even bother airing qualy these days, which is sad because this year is the first I can remember when MotoGP qualifying is actually interesting.

As far as Nicky goes, I would love to see him on Bautista's bike. It's not time to send him out to WSBK pasture yet, he needs to have another go on something that isn't a Ducati.

I really hope you can somehow get a hold of Bautista's bike for next season. I'd love to see what the Kentucky Kid could do on a top satellite.

With the amount of positive commentary on Nicky taking Bautista's seat.. for as unlikely as it is, do you think your articles and related comments get seen by the "decision makers?" I was trying to understand if your comment about that was a viable rumor in the paddock or an amazing idea at the hands of the author. There is so much interesting opinion from your readers, it just makes me wonder if the higher up ever pay attention to it.

Thanks David, great article. In the comments section Nicky Hayden has hogged the limelight in particular and riders in general. The machines seem to have taken a back seat. While Forward Racing could lease Yamaha engines (that would make it only two of them) and Gresini could get one production Honda racer and Aspar and Cardion AB sticking with ARTs and Avintia and Ioda staying with their present set up, is there no grapevine talking about Marc VDS moving up into MotoGP or Sito Pons also moving into MotoGP?

Sito Pons was in MotoGP for a long time and would believe that he has a rightful place there as does Michael Bartholemy who managed the official Kawasaki operations. Wouldn't Michael Bartholemy and Sito Pons be interested in the production Honda racer? If that is the case then the Honda Racer meets its target of 5 motorcycles on the grid. Two with Marc VDS, two with Sito Pons and one with Gresini. Yamaha is probably the one with the problem since they have only two motorcycles which will carry their leased engines (and that is still a verbal contract) but I remember having read on that the head of Forward Racing has made contact with Ichiro Yoda of Kawasaki to get better specced engines to be put in the FTR chassis and if that works out I see Yamaha not having any customers to lease out their engines to, unless of course, Ioda racing changes its mind about racing with BMW engines.

It would really be nice to see new teams moving up to MotoGP since they have the technical wherewithal to do so and hopefully the money as well. I have a feeling Ducati will not be able sell their bikes of this year as production or non MSMA machines next year. And that for me is a question mark on their commitment to MotoGP since already there is talk of the Pramac team shutting down if Ben Spies does not return to the series by Indianapolis and prove that it is worth Ducati's while to keep running the Pramac team. I think the manufacturers situation is likely to get more and more in the direction of Ducati quitting the series before long (Audi money or not).

The ART question comes down to this, IMHO:

- With Aprilia's proprietary software, 400,000 Euros for a season is a screaming deal in terms of performance per Euro, based on the performance to date of Aleix and DePuniet.

- With the spec software, 400,000 Euros is only a so-so, thank God we're on the grid proposition, based on the performance of the AB squad to date.

If the Power Electronics team is hooked on these top 10 finishes, the ART may not be machine enough to deliver the goods, and I could see them bailing and buying a couple of the Honda proddie racers.

Hi David. On June 29, reported Ducati as offering up its current race bikes for sale next year. And one source indicates the price would be WAY better than the Yamaha leased engines deal. Instead of leasing an engine, they would be buying a complete bike, with back-up engines, for less money. And they could sell the bikes at the end of 2014. Compared with a Yamaha leased engine deal, or a Honda for 1.2 million Euros, it sounds a great deal.

Interestingly, I too (along with standesmo ) have wondered whether that if Dani wins the championship this year, he will announce his retirement. Going out on top is a great way to go. Ask Bruce Penhall.

Also, if Lin Jarvis is not careful, Herve Poncheral may (with Monster) end up running satellite Hondas...

Baron's point may be a good one. Tech 3 have had a long relationship with Yamaha, but commitment works both ways - if Jarvis forces Herve to do something he finds morally repugnant with both Cal and Bradley he may just jump ship. Nakamoto would have a coup similar to when HRC poached Yamahas tech guys. A well-run, happy, technically excellent team, good riders (I think Bradley is underrated), sponsors who seem to like the team more than the bike brand, and it would generate more air-time as a shock move. There is the small matter of a contract I expect, but Yamaha don't seem to mind those being broken. What goes around....
Jarvis needs to think longer term. Alienating someone like Herve by forcing moves he doesn't want could be sowing seeds that he will find equally unpalatable.

Much as I love Yamaha, if they don't step up their satelllite support, they may as well put Homer in charge. Doh! And Herve has the balls to do what TheBaron suggests-move to Honda. Gresini is good, but Tech3 (for now, that's a Yamaha brand) as a team is, IMO, better. Fausto could see his HRC bike roll across to another pit box...and his sponsors saying WTF? Silly season. Love it, pipe dreams for the MotoGP fanatic. I.e Dorna's bread-and-butter. I've had a premium video account since they started, I fly to races, and I've loved MotoGP since '82. Crank it up, get more riders on competitive bikes instead of dumbing it down, and the fans (and sponsors) will come. Why Budweiser or Heineken are not on the grid is a mystery to me. C'mon, Yamaha, you need a corporate sponsor. Face reality and get to work.

I'm still not quite sure what a Honda Production Racer is..? In 2014 it'll be the 2013 bike DP and MM were riding?? So unless the 2014 prototype makes a good leap forward during the winter , the "production racer" could start the year out better?

Ben Spies to Tour de France!

The Honda "Production Racer" will not be this year's bikes sold to the highest bidders. They will be a somewhat dumbed-down version of this year's bikes with valve springs instead of pneumatics and less sophisticated electronics. Most annoying of all (to me at least) is that instead of taking advantage of the full 24 liters of fuel available to the "lower tier" bikes the Honda will only have a 21 liter tank.

Here's the Motomatters story:

Is there anyone less rewarded for loyalty and being a standup guy? NH has fought hard not to bitch or blame things on his team, (which in many cases even had his detractors stating the team was the problem.) This man has refused to say ill words about Honda or Ducati. Neither of them seem to reward him for his loyalty. Ducati boots him, he wins a championship for Honda and they make a bike for his teammate. SMFH.

I always said he should have gone to Yamaha when he left Honda. They gave a damn about him. For those not living in the United States, and even for those who do not read Cycle News. Here is a BIG reason why I say Yamaha may have been a better selection. NH won the Championship on a HONDA. But YAMAHA took out a HUGE ad in this well circulated magazine and congratulated him on winning the championship. Honda.....not a word or commercial showing him as the World Champ. Haters. To this day I have no love for Honda. And I learned how to ride on CR250s and a CR500. Used to be my favorite brand because they were the sh!t. But after Watching McGrath in Supercross dissed, Rossi, and then Hayden, they seemed to be the most arrogant of the factories.

Almost feel like winning the lottery and saving some money to the side just to throw NH a big appreciation party so that he knows that there are some people on the planet that think highly of his class as a person and a champion. He does not deserve the rotted flesh treatment he gets.

"But after Watching McGrath in Supercross dissed, Rossi, and then Hayden, they seemed to be the most arrogant of the factories."

Just to add I think Ducati are a very close 2nd! I still remember how Loris Capirossi was treated in 2007. He was their absolute Golden Boy in 2006, "Rider For Life" etc, but when Casey came strong in 2007 they dropped Loris like a heavy stone. Their treatment of Melandri was terrible too. I heard they had him see a psychiatrist when he failed miserably to ride the Desmo? And as for their treatment of Nicky? Ready to dump him instantly for CC/Dovi if Rossi had stayed. Rossi left, so he "filled a gap" for another year. Disgraceful reward for loyalty.

but if Nicky won his World Championship only because of Vale's problems,what was everyone else up to?.....was there some sort of deal made that if Vale didn't win it Nicky would? Fact is that there was a whole field of riders who's only goal was to win that same title and Vale's problems presented the same "opportunity" for them as it did for Nicky....and to think they let the opportunity pass so they could hand the title to Nicky is absurd.....Won,fair and square....2006 World Champion..Nicky Hayden.

...Because it is making a MESS of everything!

This is precisely what happens when money rules. Nothing new, really, but it would be nice to see talented riders riding competitive machines. Just last week as I was listening to the Dorna Talking Heads effusively praising mediocre racing yet again, I recalled the crazy dicing and position swapping of the 500cc era. Money ruled then, and there were usually a handful of riders consistently on the podium, but at least it was real racing rather than optimizing electronics and running flawless laps.

The situation with Nicky Hayden really cheeses me off, too. He was pushed out of Honda and has been the most consistently 'successful' Ducati rider. He is widely appreciated. He helps sells bikes. A move to World Superbike might bring him some much-deserved wins, but he does not deserve to be pushed out from a team that clearly still does not produce a competitive package.

...seems to be the consequence of these 'third tier' options. It made for depressing reading that Yamaha may try to offload Bradley Smith as part of it's support package (despite contracts to the contrary) to Forward racing.

I understood that part of the motivation to move to CRT was wrestle a portion of power away from the factories (along with money saving). The opposite seems now to be true: The factories now have some hold and say over, not only satellite teams but even 'privateers'. Perhaps it was always so but it is a shame nonetheless.

I argued for a long time that Prototype racing is where manufacturers belong- testing the best and brightest parts and people against their competition. Superbikes rather should be private teams buying road bikes and making the best race bike they can out of them. Manufacturers jobs should stop when they sell the bike.

This is still my preferred position but it seems technology (or Honda) has made it beyond the budgets of most factories.

Perhaps a total 180 from that position is required. This would mean manufacturers supporting teams to race their production bikes and leaving prototypes to privateers alone. Perhaps, 'merely' selling engines.

It seems neither is likely and as a result we end up with two series with well funded teams winning and the rest making up the rest of the field.

Aren't Tech 3 out of contract with Yamaha at the end of this season (I believe that is why Cal only signed a 1 year extension) ?

If that is the case, it presents some interesting opportunities:

1. Yamaha can try and 'enforce' their rider choice, perhaps to the chagrin of Herve as part of the re-negotiation.

2. Herve has the option to change manufacturer, and make his own rider choice, potentially keeping the Monster funded Brit pairing...

... That was a lot to process! My mind keeps going to Hayden's future however. He's been tied to the Ducati anchor for so long it seems a wasted opportunity not to see him on a competitive GP bike for at least one season (preferably two). I have zero doubts that Nicky would impress on a satellite Honda.

I cannot remember when Nickey Hayden last smiled. Not that it should matter much but he's been unhappy for a long time. Most of that unhappiness hasn't been his doing. However... He has a World Title.The Only non (alien) to do it. Last year, around this time, most #69 supporters were up in arms as it appeared that CC#35 was to take his ride. An unproven (which CC#35 still is in my opinion, as he has yet to win a race) Brit was being mentioned as his successor. DUCATI back tracked and turned to his (#35's) team mate and when #46 jumped ship, they decided to stick with the tried and tested #69.

He's spent a decade at the pinnacle of Motorcycle racing. Beat the Greatest of all time (an opinion I hold) to a title. Won a memorable back 2 back US GP's, His whole career has been on factory machinery and now we want to see him on a Gresini Satellite HONDA to prove what exactly ? My point is 10 years is more than most can dream of. Its Time to move on. Everybody has a sell by date, when your services and skill set could be put to better use elsewhere.He would be an asset to the world of SBK. I have no doubt that he'd be competitive and win races.

Anybody have any information on what the rules will be regarding the current softer CRT option tire for next year?

If the softer CRT option is removed next year then I sure as heck wouldn't want to be on the ART.

If they keep the softer option who would be allowed to run it? Any non-MSMA member? I doubt that or we'll have the production RCV & Yamaha-FTR riders given extra fuel & softer tires.

As I understand it, the soft tires will remain for the non-MSMA entries, and the rules will stay just as they are, with the non-MSMA entries having medium & soft, and MSMA entries having hard and medium choices.

I thought the whole reason for the soft tires was because the CRT's needed them; being down on so much horsepower they weren't able to stress the tire enough to generate heat.

I doubt a leased M1 engine or a production RCV (non-MSMA) can use that same argument since their engines are likely close to satellite spec?

It appears with the ever increasing costs of the Honda production RC and Yamaha leasing-engine that these factories are backing away from supporting Dorna's efforts to level the playing field now that they have the ECU software compromise they wanted. Imagine, just a couple of years ago private teams could lease full factory prototypes for one million euro a year! I would encourage Dorna to continue it's technical weighting in favor of the non-factory teams. This is the way forward for more riders racing for the win, for more teams. Dorna must do a better job of expanding their TV exposure to attract many more sponsors to teams. This is the way to break to Japanese factories death grip on Grand Prix racing.

If it wasn't for that Japanese death grip, we wouldn't have grand prix racing. We'd probably barely have WSBK and the whole concept of a 'sportbike' would be years behind where it is today... We owe a lot to these Japanese factories...

I'd just like to comment that saying Crutchlow's potential move to Ducati "remains a risk, given the continued problems Ducati are having at making the Desmosedici competitive" is one of the most gracious and diplomatic understatements I've ever read in the motorcycling press.

I have read elsewhere that Nicky Hayden has himself told the media that he is not riding a MotoGP Ducati next year and that he has been sacked. Cal Crutchlow has said that there is no change in his situation irrespective of what has happened with Hayden. He has said that negotiations are on with all factories. Except the LCR seat there is no other possibility of Crutchlow getting anywhere near a factory ride, other than with Ducati. If Crutchlow is insistent on a factory ride and big money, he will go to Ducati, disgrace himself with horrible results and leave MotoGP richer in money and a whole lot poorer in reputation. Audi does not have the magical mojo to turn Ducati around. They are a car company who want to get into the bike market and if seen properly Audi is not racing oriented apart from the Le Mans series. Ducati will continue to be a disaster in 2014 when somebody in Audi will see this as wasteful expenditure and pull out of MotoGP and concentrate on WSBK where there is greater hope of doing well for Ducati. If he ends up at Ducati, Cal Crutchlow will be out of MotoGP by the end of 2014.

Hayden finally getting off the Duck. Good for HIM i say. At-least he can ride to his potential and not be limited to the bike now. He said in the PC that he has a couple of interesting offers. I wonder if it could be Aprilia RT? Imagine him beating the crap outta Ducati factory team on CRT/ART Bike next year :) That would be golden.

If only Suzuki had rejoined next year...

I really hope Nicky stays in MotoGP. If he does not, I will attend more WSBK races and cheer him on. Perhaps meet and chat about the club and AMA days, and encourage him to take that AMA Flat-Track title. But this weekend is Laguna Seca, home of his two decisive wins ( which I was so ebullient about, in the initial laps, my sister insisted I shut up and sit down, so others could tell what was happening ).

No doubt MM will be up front, he's proven he is scary fast, smart, AND calculating. He has his eye on the Championship, not just race wins. I'm happy to see my hero, Vale, embracing him as a real bonus to the sport Vale loves above all, MotoGP. But as they say in the US, the green flag drops and the BS stops. Rossi will give his all at Laguna to show he is the GOAT. Marquez can learn from 2nd, if Vale is on form.

And I love to see laughing, joking, profanity-laced press conferences instead of stone-faced corporate reps regurgitating the company line with no joy of their involvement or achievement evident. Motorcycle racing is exciting, emotional, that's why we love it. The riders should show that.

it appears, from all this ultra happiness a lot of you are showing on how nice and funny the pre-event press conference was and what a change it was from having dani and jorge with their apparently fake/forced smiles and more serious demeanor and as if when they are there it's never been funny, that you guys also don't remember how in almost every press conference lorenzo makes some funny comment or two and everyone has a laugh or two.

seriously, how partial can people's memories be ? even when it comes to riders' sense of humour in press conferences.

yes this pre event conference was also funny..guess having a laugh, marketable personality and all that is more important to most "fans" than having a fair and impartial memory and the actual racing.

The fact that there are only four riders who can win the MotoGP title riding for one of the two Japanese factory MSMA teams is in my humble opinion a death grip on MotoGP. It is also a death grip when the same factories dictate the technical regs to eliminate competition from other manufacturers.
And what do we have to thank Honda & Yamaha For? Using MotoGP as their own marketing platform and R&D facility?
Grand Prix motorcycle racing will endure whether there is any factory involvement or not. As long as there is a fair, competitive and lucrative challenge in Grands Prix teams will show up and the best riders will gravitate to test themselves against their peers.