The Gresini Situation: Where Will Scott Redding Be Riding In 2015?

Under normal circumstances, Scott Redding would already know exactly where he will be racing in 2015. He has a contract with HRC and Gresini to race with the Go&Fun Gresini team, which puts him aboard the factory option Honda RC213V next year, replacing Alvaro Bautista. Up until a few races ago, the only question mark was whether Redding would continue to run Showa suspension and Nissin brakes, which come as part of a lucrative sponsorship deal for Gresini, or whether the team would switch to Ohlins and Brembo, like the factory Honda team.

In the past couple of weeks, that situation appears to have changed. Ahead of the Brno round of MotoGP, rumors emerged that Gresini was struggling to raise the funds for 2015. Title sponsor Go&Fun is alleged to be having financial problems, with Andrea Iannone's manager Carlo Pernat telling reporters at Brno that Iannone has yet to receive the money for the helmet sponsorship deal the Italian signed with them. There are now doubts that Go&Fun will be able to afford to continue the sponsorship of the Gresini Honda team for 2015, despite having a contract with the Italian team for 2015. 

The potential loss of a title sponsor coincides with a price hike for Honda's satellite RC213V. The cost, already high at over 3.5 million euros, is set to rise even further, pushing Gresini into a corner. Team owner Fausto Gresini has already had talks with HRC over the future of the bike. The original deadline to order the Honda for 2015 was at the end of July, but Honda agreed to an extension, to give Gresini more time to secure funding. That deadline has been extended to the next race at Silverstone. At the British Grand Prix, Gresini must either order the satellite Honda, or give up the right to the bike.

If Gresini cannot find the cash to order the RC213V, what are the team's options? There had been rumors linking Gresini to Aprilia, which would involve the team taking over the running of Aprilia's factory team when they return in 2015. I asked both Fausto Gresini and Livio Suppo of HRC about those rumors, and both men dismissed them. "Now we are not speaking with Aprilia. Many people have said this, but it is very strange for me," Gresini told me. Suppo said the reports lacked credibility, adding that given how fast the satellite Honda is, and how big the gap is to the Aprilia-based ART bikes, the choice was simple: "Do you want to race to win, or do you want only to make money?" Even if Gresini did lose the satellite Honda, running a one-bike team with an Open Honda would still leave them more competitive, especially as the 2015 RCV1000R is to receive a major engine update, and use the 2014 factory option RC213V engines, minus the seamless gearbox and the factory electronics. For 2015, Aprilia will be racing an uprated version of their ART machine, before debuting a completely new bike in 2016.

The biggest problem for Gresini is that if they give up their claim to a satellite Honda, they will never get it back again. Satellite bikes become available about as often as a unicorn wins the derby, and relinquishing one means giving it up for the foreseeable future. Gresini has had Honda satellite equipment for the last 18 years, and had great success with the marque, so to give that up now would be a major step backwards. As one paddock insider said, "there are only four of these [Honda RC213V] bikes in the world. When they become available, you take it and figure the money out later."

The question is what effect the new rules coming in for 2016 will have. All of the bikes will then be using the same software, but it is far from clear whether the factories will be supplying different levels of machinery to different teams. The software for the spec ECU will be written by all three factories collaborating together. It is clear that the factories will want the software to support their seamless gearbox systems, meaning that this could still be a differentiator between different bikes supplied at different price points. That would still leave the teams with the 2015 satellite contract first in line for the best 2016 equipment from the factories, making it worth their while to ensure they have the satellite contract now.

For Scott Redding, any outcome other than Gresini finding the cash to fund a factory RC213V in 2015 means he must leave the team. Redding wants a factory option bike to challenge the likes of Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi. "I don't want to be racing to 'win' the open class; I want to be up at the sharp end, fighting with the factory Hondas and the factory Yamahas," Redding wrote in his blog on the BT Sport website.

Other factories have shown an interest in Redding, with Ducati keen to tempt the young Englishman back into the fold. Redding tested the Ducati in 2012, and was immediately fast on the bike. Ducati team boss Paolo Ciabatti told UK publication MCN that they would be very interested in talking to Redding, should he not reach agreement with Gresini. In that case, Redding would be offered a factory seat in the Pramac team, alongside Yonny Hernandez.

The most likely scenario, however, would be for the Marc VDS Racing team to move up to MotoGP. The team has come close to putting a MotoGP bike on the grid previously, but a combination of finances and a lack of competitive machinery has always held them back. For 2014, the only bikes available were Open class Hondas, which the team did not feel would be competitive. The team also looked at an Open class Yamaha along the lines of the Forward system, with a leased M1 engine in a frame to be built by Kalex for 2015, but with the rules set to change and Michelin coming in as a new tire supplier for 2016, the costs were considered to be too high. Any bike designed for 2015 would have to be redesigned again for 2016, a major cost for a small chassis builder like Kalex.

Having a Honda satellite bike available would be an opportunity too good to miss, however. The Marc VDS team is in the luxurious position of having a rich patron in Belgian beer billionaire Marc van der Straten, but they are also among the most effective in the paddock at raising sponsorship. If Gresini did relinquish the rights to the Honda RC213V, then the Marc VDS team could afford to sign the contract, pay for the deal, then go out and find the funds to sponsor the bike. Sources with knowledge of the situation say that meetings have already taken place with HRC about stepping in should Gresini leave.

In fact, Marc VDS Racing moving up to MotoGP would be an ideal scenario for Scott Redding. Not only would he be assured of a factory RC213V with HRC backing, he would also get to run the suspension and brakes of his choice. That is a key point for Redding, and he has been pushing for a switch to Ohlins and Brembo for some time. "In this paddock, you don't last long if you don't make results, and I can't take the risk for another year, because I don't want to make results like Bautista did this year. He's been struggling a little bit and crashing a lot," Redding told reporters at the test at Brno. Redding praised the work of Nissin and Showa, saying their commitment and effort was beyond question. But if he is to tackle Marquez and Pedrosa, he needs to do so on as near equal terms as possible, and eliminating the variable of suspension made the equation that little bit simpler.

The situation is far from sorted yet, however. First, Gresini will meet with Honda at Silverstone and give them an answer about their future. Once that has been decided, things could move very quickly indeed.

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Wow. I am eating some popcorn and inhaling bon bons with rollers in my hair reading this. (Joking), but this soap opera never stops. I have had my criticisms of Redding before last year. But he is showing solidness that I think deserves to be given a chance more so than MANY others in the field. Hope it gets worked out for him. Also hope Gresini gets the sponsorship he needs. They are a great team in the paddock.

Wow! Had no idea. Reminds me again how volatile life is, MotoGP no exception. You make all your plans, then one day during crunch time you receive 'that call' that the carpet is coming out from under you.

Whoraverage rider I am w you, but consider this here below too.
Punkass, don't you also just think this whole entire circus is insanity? To smell the Repsol fuel wafting on the front straight telling you the front pack was just here seems enough to keep teams at it, and 3.5 million is small potatoes to lots of folks involved in the dream. It isn't a rational process so much perhaps, but a 'we must so we will!'

David - 'unicorn winning the derby' = GEM, great article as usual my friend.

I feel for Fausto and Co. Like life, again, sudden destabilization makes room for otherwise impossible opportunity for those poised and able to surf the moment.

Redding gets a better bike than was possible. Marc VDS gets 'that other call' that we get a few times in our life. MotoGP (and you and me) get one more top notch viable competitive team on the grid. Aprilia gets a leg up with Gresini's platform of established infrastructure and expertise. Fausto is depressed for a while and hopefully gives me a call so we can work on the transformation arising for him to hop on as his long strong major Honda swell subsides, and he steps up in his role functioning from independent satellite racing team to something bigger. Gresini loses its struggles with 'almost there but not quite' limitations they would NEVER have let go of otherwise, and enter a new chapter in racing history.

Either that or there is a major sponsor that didn't see itself on MotoGP livery just now but ready to commit...that would be wonderful too but less so from my seat.

Wow! Whodathunk.

Hi there Motoshrink, I am happy to see that you have finally accepted that all is not well at Gresini. I think it has everything to do with the story coming from Sir David Emmett himself. Thanks David, for putting up this piece in your usual inimitable style and saving me from garnering a reputation of an Indian who can write in English but writes trash. I owe you one Sir.

Ever since he tested with them I was secretly hoping he would sign! If he can't get a factory ride he could do worse than the duc.
Would HATE to see Gresini out of GP tho, even to just one bike would be a tragedy. 2015 could be great if Gresini stays we get Marc VDS and a more competitive bikes/teams could be a good year

It looks like the marketing team won with a plan to launch this product with a monster idea to gain market share, and then fund their aspirations with the resulting humungous profits from fans sucking up their story.
Turned out to be a load of green bull, by the looks. Shame. It could have been great for Gresini and the fans.
If it does bring Marc VDS into the fold, and sets up Redding with his base team again, that would be great. Presumably, that means buying those PBM slots too.

If the RCV isn't viable I do hope that Gresini gets his Aprilia deal too. One door closes; clouds/silver linings etc.

What does winning mean? Beating the competition (satellites) - and if someone else is in a different race (i.e. factories) then losing to them isn't not winning. I doubt very much that Redding can take the battle to the top 4 on a consistent basis. If he's consistent top 5, with a few runs at a podium, or qualifying on the front row, that would be winning in my book. Probably good enough in Marc VDS's cheque book too.

The pit crew could be interesting too - will the M2 team move up and weaken their challenge there? Or does it mean a shuffle of Gresini's crew to transfer the RCV know-how?

This is MotoGP.

Don't count on it.

Even if motogp slots gets sold to Aprillia or others; My bet is IRTA / FIM would just increase the grid by 2 slots to get Marc VDS in.

The Quartararo rule last week tells you all you kneed to know......

Anyway, regardless of that, Redding deserves a ride on a RC213V next year no matter what sponsor is on the tank.

I can only wonder if this state of affairs had been known a couple of weeks ago, whether he might have been signed up to ride a very fast Yamaha. A Yamaha that's doomed to tootle around in midfield for the rest of this year and all of next.

With a sponsor like Marc VDS and reading about their relationship last year, plus his attitude this, I suspect he's in a pretty comfortable place. For him, the Gresini tribulations appear to be just that, disappointing but not a threat to his big plan. He has had to use his talent and work hard to get where he is, but I tend to think he's a lucky bugger! Deserving, but lucky. And that is a pretty powerful combination.

Toni Elias and the Portugal win in 2006 still lives on in infamy. He rode like "the devil".

That team has a long history. Barros, Capirossi, Katosan, Gibernau, Edwards, Melandri, Elias, and may he rip, Marco Simoncelli. They need to carry on for two of these riders who are no longer here.

Very sad situation and I really hope they they get their financing in place. Fausto continuing on with a factory bike means entirely too much to me and many. If Dajiroh or Marco mean anything to HRC they should help the team out.

Before the rookie rule was abolished, kindly refresh my memory if a certain number 93 was set to join Gresini or LCR?

If it was the former, that would certainly have stung, in hindsight! It would have meant new sponsors this time around and next year, no?

Both Lucio Cecchinello and Fausto Gresini lobbied hard to get rid of the Rookie Rule. Both have existing, long-term oil sponsorships, which they would have lost. Honda would have demanded that they get rid of all of their crew, to be replaced by Honda's crew chief and mechanics. And Marquez would only have stayed for one year, before going to Repsol.

If Marquez had gone to a satellite team, the satellite team he went to would have ended up destroyed, to a large extent. 

Why on earth way it instituted? Folklore now says it was to keep Spies off a factory Yam, but they had Lorenzo and Rossi already didn't they? I just don't recall the thinking (if any) behind bringing it in. I do recall quite some excitement around Spies on the way up, as he did look very promising, but was it enough to invoke that (stupid) rule?.

Though Ben Spies was never going to displace either Jorge Lorenzo or Valentino Rossi from their factory seats, he was, if you like, the inspiration for the rule. The rule was instituted as a way of helping the satellite teams, who in 2009 were suffering the most from the global financial crisis. Dorna and IRTA were looking for a way of ensuring that satellite teams remained attractive to sponsors, and forcing top riders to go to a satellite team before going to a factory team seemed like a good start.

The reasoning behind it was good, though as always with these things, the risk of unintended consequences was great. The rookie rule works well for rookies who are good, but not obviously the next big thing. It works less well for genuine prodigies with lots of personal sponsors who are being groomed for greatness. A rider like Andrea Iannone, Scott Redding, Pol Espargaro do well in a satellite team, and do not bring so much sponsorship with them that they force existing sponsors off bikes. A rider like Marc Marquez (or soon, his brother Alex, or even later, Fabio Quartararo) has so much personal backing, from Repsol and Honda, that they cannot be placed anywhere without completely disrupting an existing team. 

So by that you are inferring is that the rookie rule, designed to give satellite teams the chance to hire riders that might draw enough sponsorship to pay for satellite bikes, was bullied out of existence by Honda when it suited them. Nice.

I wouldn't say bullied out of existence. But Marquez was brought in to MotoGP by Honda, by way of Repsol. There is a lot of money involved there, and a lot of investment. Honda faced a related problem when Dani Pedrosa came to MotoGP. Pedrosa had been backed by Telefonica and Movistar throughout his career, but Repsol refused to allow him on a bike in Telefonica livery. Commercial interests clashed, and Telefonica lost out, persuading them to leave the sport until this year. 

It is not fair to pin this on Honda; Yamaha or Ducati would have done exactly the same thing. But Repsol have the most complete program for bringing riders through the ranks, and a very close tie to Honda, so it happened to Honda. It is more the fault of Repsol than HRC, if blame is to be assigned.

Perhaps it can be seen as a 'good problem to have' that a long term sponsor has been funding support of all three GP classes, CEV, central to creating newer rookies series, paying indiv riders, et al. So much investment from them! With odd and complicated interrelated dynamics that can on the surface manifest difficulties too.

Castrol, do you have Fausto's #? He is a bit distressed and could use a call (and we could use a bit more green on the side of his Hondas as well as in his war chest).

Castrol's sponsorship has been a little patchy.

To the un(business)informed fan, it seems like Repsol, perhaps mostly through longevity has gained a very high profile through nothing more - in the UK that is - than (vast) sponsorship. (I have never seen any other Repsol advertising, for instance).

One might assume, a similar oil giant could have an equal profile- Shell, BP and Castrol have all dallied with sponsorship, Castrol rather succesfully with Honda circa 2000 and on with two world championships. Yet their return in 2010 (?) was very brief. Perhaps they were made promises about the Honda that failed to materialize (Johnny Rea perhaps should have followed them out?) but I was surprised their stay was so brief. Why? If their sponsorship was the correct decision, what changed to make them leave?

I wonder if they could ever be convinced to return to motorcycle soonsorship in MotoGP. They make a good livery - or used to!

If the blame is sheeted to Repsol then why this comment "Honda would have demanded that they get rid of all of their crew, to be replaced by Honda's crew chief and mechanics."?

As for Yamaha & Ducati doing the same thing, that wasn't what transpired when Ben Spies moved from WSBK to MotoGP.