The Massive Silly Season Update: Redding vs Kent At Pramac, Honda's Musical Chairs, Moto2 And Much More

Brno was a busy time for teams, managers and riders. Apart from dealing with jet lag and the sweltering heat, silly season kicked off in force at the Czech round of MotoGP. The summer break and the chaos which ensued from the situation around the Forward Racing team put everything on hold over the summer, with tentative talks starting at Indianapolis. Those talks, and events outside the paddock, helped clarify the situation, and at Brno talks began in earnest. The empty spaces on the MotoGP grid are starting to be filled.

The weekend kicked off with the fairly sensational news that Danny Kent was talking to Pramac Ducati about a ride in MotoGP, going straight from Moto3 and skipping Moto2. The deal on the table would be a three-year deal with support from the factory, racing a GP15 alongside Danilo Petrucci. It was an offer Kent was giving very serious consideration, and expected to think about in the run up to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Given that Octo is the title sponsor of the Silverstone round, and also the sponsor of the Pramac Ducati team, announcing a British rider at the British GP would be a sponsor's dream.

Signing Kent has not come out of the blue. The Moto3 championship leader has made it clear he will not be back in Moto3 next year, whatever happens. Kent has options in Moto2, most notably with his current Kiefer team, who run on the Leopard Racing banner. Kiefer are set to move up to Moto2 in 2016, and are keen to retain the services of Kent. But Kent sees 2016 would be an ideal moment to make the jump to MotoGP, given the technical changes which are coming next season. Michelin tires, as the biggest change, will mean a much more level playing field, as everyone in MotoGP, veteran and rookie, will have to work to figure out how to get the most out of them. The more rear-biased style, using the extra grip of the rear to carry more corner speed, may also help a rookie coming up from Moto3. Ducati certainly think the switch might work, Davide Tardozzi telling me at Brno "this is not something we thought up last night, we have been thinking about this for a while."

In Brno, the decision looked to be in Danny Kent's hands, but there have been rumors since then suggesting that Kent will be heading to Moto2 instead. Kent has gelled with his crew chief Peter Bom, and stepping up to Moto2 together, on competitive Kalex machinery, would give Kent his best chance of putting on a strong challenge in Moto2.

If Kent does not go to MotoGP, then Scott Redding is the first rider in line for the second Pramac seat. Redding's manager Michael Bartholémy admitted to myself and MCN reporter Steve English that they had been speaking to Pramac about switching from the Marc VDS Honda to Pramac Ducati, after Redding's dismal time with the Honda RC213V. "Scott is not happy on the bike," Bartholémy said. "He wants to try something different. If something isn't working, you have to make a change." Redding hinted at his thinking at Assen, after a difficult weekend there. "When I think about what I could have had... " he had told us. Redding had in mind the very successful test he had with Ducati back in the summer of 2012, before he came to MotoGP with Gresini. At that test, he had been faster than Andrea Iannone, and had a better feeling with the bike. But it was Iannone who made the jump to the Pramac team. Redding has seen Iannone's progress on the Ducati and believed he could do the same, as Iannone was one of the riders Redding spent all his time battling against in Moto2.

If Redding does go to Pramac, that leaves a gap at Marc VDS. As manager of the Marc VDS team, as well as Redding's personal manager, Bartholémy has come under a lot of pressure from sponsors to achieve better results in MotoGP. Redding has spent his time on the factory bike hitting a brick wall, the RC213V being far more difficult to ride than he (or any of the other RC213V riders) had expected. Redding has been able to make progress on race pace, but once he has to push for a fast lap at qualifying, he has been unable to find the extra three quarters of a second that everyone else has. He feels he is constantly on the limit, and the lack of progress has been getting Redding down. That has been hard for Bartholémy in both managerial capacities. "I don't want to put a rider on my bike who does not have a smile under his helmet," he said.

Who would take Redding's bike if he leaves? One choice which is being bandied around is Cal Crutchlow, as Honda are keen to retain the services of the Englishman, and Crutchlow has shown himself capable of good results, at least when he doesn't suffer the fate of so many Honda riders trying to push and crashes out. Bartholémy said that as much as he would like to sign Crutchlow, he simply cannot afford it. "I have forty families who rely on me," Bartholémy said. "Marc VDS and Monlau have put together a big project, with Estrella Galicia, a pyramid which gives a chance to a 12-year-old kid to go from Pre-GP all the way through to the pinnacle, to MotoGP, with our support and the support of our sponsors. We can't jeopardize all that to take a rider for one year."

Bartholémy would not be drawn on who he would replace Redding with, should Redding go to Pramac, but a simple equation puts Tito Rabat in the driving seat for the ride. Rabat is desperate to move up to MotoGP, and has been speaking to a lot of teams about the step up. Rabat's problem is the same one he suffered in Moto2: teams see him as the son of a very wealthy jeweler, rather than as Moto2 champion, and look at his wallet rather than his results. That would not be the case would he move up to MotoGP with Marc VDS, the first team to take him, pay him a salary, and treat him like any other rider, with the result that he won a Moto2 title for them. At the Sachsenring, Bartholémy told us that if he were to get a second grid slot, then he would give Rabat the first right of refusal. If Redding goes to Pramac, which seems likely, then Rabat could take that slot.

Marc VDS was not the only team Rabat has been talking to. The reigning Moto2 champion is also believed to have been talking to the Aspar squad. Team manager Gino Borsoi refused to discuss riders when we asked him, saying that their first priority had been to agree on bikes for 2016. At Brno, they had reached agreement with Honda to supply 2015 Honda RC213Vs to the Aspar team, and with that in place, they could start to look at riders. "But first, we still have to find the budget," Borsoi told us.

One way to solve that problem would be for Jack Miller to take one place in the Aspar team. Miller and his crew are paid for by Honda, as the Australian is on a contract directly with HRC. At the moment, Miller is in the LCR team, but with title sponsor CWM due to be removed from fairings, race trucks and hospitality units from the Silverstone round of MotoGP, CWM boss Anthony Constantinou currently facing trial on multiple charges of sexual assault, and the original firm sponsoring the team – CWM FX – having ceased trading, it looks highly unlikely that they will reach deal with CWM for 2016. In that case, LCR would continue as a single rider team – almost certainly with Cal Crutchlow – going back to the tried-and-tested format of having multiple sponsors and offering them title sponsorship for individual rounds.

If LCR are unable to pay for a second bike, then Miller's destination is mostly likely to be the Aspar team. Aspar get a free rider, and are left with less money to find for the rest of the year. That they are talking to other riders is rather unusual, as Eugene Laverty has a two-year deal with the team, for 2015 and 2016. Aspar would like to get out of that deal, so they can hire a rider who can bring money to the team. Whether they can do so without being forced to buy Laverty out of his contract remains to be seen. Laverty is determined to remain in MotoGP, having taken the Aspar deal on the basis that he knew he was getting a bike that would not be competitive in his rookie year in the class, but would be on better equipment in 2016, having spent a year learning the ropes.

The other rider who had been expected to move up to MotoGP is Johann Zarco. The Frenchman has been imperious in Moto2, and had been talking to Pramac about taking the seat on offer to Kent and Redding, but in the end, it had been Zarco who had withdrawn. He had decided he was not yet ready, and was looking instead at staying in Moto2 with his current Ajo Motorsport team. With Ajo being tipped as a candidate to run the KTM factory effort when they arrive in MotoGP in 2017, that may make a certain amount of sense.

While Zarco will be staying in Moto2, Sam Lowes looks almost certain to move up to MotoGP. The Englishman has a precontract with Aprilia, which foresees Lowes staying at the team for the next three years. There have been various rumblings of other riders taking the place – Stefan Bradl has been named in this respect, the German having done a solid job replacing Marco Melandri, already matching the pace of Alvaro Bautista – but the deal with Lowes looks almost certain to be announced at Misano. Though the paperwork is yet to be finalized, the chances of anyone but Lowes getting the ride are very slim indeed.

The one rider which everyone is looking at in Moto2 at the moment is Alex Rins. Rins has been deeply impressive from the very first race in Qatar, and has two poles, a win, and five other podiums to his name this year. But Rins is tied up closely to Sito Pons' Pagina Amarillas HP 40 team, with a watertight two-year deal to remain in Moto2. The factories are keeping a close eye on Rins, and are likely to open a bidding war for the services of the Spaniard in the middle of next year, with Yamaha said to be making the running. Given his Monster sponsorship, the most likely destination for Rins is the Yamaha-held seat at Tech 3, currently occupied by Pol Espargaro.

Espargaro's seat at Tech 3 for 2016 was confirmed at Indianapolis, to the irritation of teammate Bradley Smith. This lured Smith into using some rather choice language about his contract situation, while making clear his desire to stay with the Tech 3 team for another year. Investigation of Smith's contract negotiations proved difficult: ask Tech 3 boss Hervé Poncharal about it, and Poncharal would say that Smith has a contract which just needs his signature on it. Ask Smith about it, and he says he has yet to see a contract. The truth of the matter seems to be that Smith's manager and Tech 3 are haggling over the details. Silverstone is a good place for a British rider to announce a new contract for 2016, and Smith seems likely to announce his deal there.

What is clear is that for 2016, there will only be four Yamahas on the grid, the two Movistar Yamahas and the two at Tech 3. At Brno, Yamaha managing director Lin Jarvis confirmed that the Forward project had been put on hold as soon as news of the arrest of Forward Racing team boss Giovanni Cuzari reached them. "Obviously, Giovanni is innocent until proven guilty, we have no view on that," Jarvis told me, "but Yamaha is a big company and we can't afford to risk our reputation by association." Should Cuzari be completely cleared of all accusations, then that might change the matter, but Yamaha could not afford to wait for the wheels of Swiss justice to finish turning.

It was also too late for another team to take over the bikes from Forward. "Yes, we are a big company, but the racing department is a small group of highly specialized engineers," Jarvis said. "We have to plan their time very carefully. It's too late to change our plans for 2016 now, even if a team were to come forward." MotoGP machines are hand built prototypes, assembled from parts designed and machined specifically for MotoGP. Producing them is time-consuming, requiring incredible attention to detail. You can't just throw a bunch of machinists at it and hope they get the job done.

Honda will also be reducing the number of bikes it will supply next year, to seven, HRC's Livio Suppo told me. The exact destination of those bikes is not known, but there will be two factory Repsol Hondas, at least one Estrella Galicia Marc VDS bike, at least one LCR Honda, and two Aspar Hondas (if Aspar can get the budget to run a team). If LCR has the budget to run two bikes, then they will retain their two current riders. If LCR cannot run a second bike, then there is a chance that Marc VDS may run a second bike. Michael Bartholémy told us at the Sachsenring that doing so would be contingent on finding the extra budget, and obtaining a second grid slot from an existing team, complete with travel allowance and free tire allocation.

Such grid slots will be up for grabs for 2016. Forward Racing are to continue for at least the next two races, though their future is very much in doubt beyond that. The team is likely to concentrate on Moto2 for 2016, a much more affordable class for all concerned. That means their slots will be available for purchase for 2016, and the money paid will help fund the future of the team for 2016, allow it to get on an even keel. There are those who have their eyes upon such slots, especially with a view to 2017, when the funding of the series changes, more money will be available to the teams and the cost of the bikes is capped.

Among those interested are Kiefer, Ajo and Pons. At the moment, Pons and Ajo seem the most likely candidates, as the two teams with the strongest riders to take to Moto2. Sito Pons used to be in MotoGP, until the cost of machinery drove him to the lower classes, and he is keen to make a return. The Pons Moto2 team has seen a cavalcade of top talent pass through it, with riders such as Pol Espargaro, Maverick Viñales and now Alex Rins. But Pons has not been able to benefit from that talent, the riders leaving as soon as they got a chance at MotoGP. If Pons can secure a grid slot for 2017, then he could move up along with Alex Rins, and have a chance to shine in the premier class with a clearly talented rider.

For Ajo, the motivation is similar, but perhaps part of a larger scheme. It has been clear that what Johann Zarco has needed has been the right environment in which to thrive, something he demonstrated in 125s, and is now showing in Moto2. Moving up to MotoGP with Ajo would give him a trusted environment and the confidence to attack the premier class. For Ajo, it would give him a full development path, somewhat similar to the Monlau/Marc VDS set up, with the ability to take a rider from Moto3 all the way to MotoGP. Ajo has also been linked with KTM's return to MotoGP, due for 2017.

So who will be on the MotoGP grid in 2016? The four Yamahas and seven Hondas will join six Ducatis – two factory GP16s, two Pramac GP15s (or GP15.x), and two Avintia GP14.2s – two Suzukis and two Aprilias, making a grand total of 21 bikes on the grid. The two Forward slots will disappear, unless either Pons, Kiefer or Ajo pick them up. Karel Abraham's AB Motor Racing team looks set to leave, though Abraham himself is very keen to stay. And IODA Racing will lose their financial support from IRTA unless Alex De Angelis starts booking some radically different results, unlikely on a washed up ART machine. The loss of four bikes will not be mourned. Dorna and IRTA believe the correct grid size in 22 bikes, though one factory boss said he would rather see 20 bikes on the grid, and a greater focus on quality.

What of the current riders on the grid? Not much is clear of where they will end up. Nicky Hayden seems destined for World Superbikes, to finally chase the unique position of being the only rider ever to have won both a MotoGP and a WSBK title. Hayden is being linked to a ride with Aprilia, though with the ongoing wrangling over the rules, it is not clear whether Aprilia will have a factory presence. Despite having a MotoGP contract with Aspar for 2016, Eugene Laverty has been hedging his bets and talking to World Superbike teams, and is another rider linked with Aprilia. Loris Baz is unlikely to find a home in MotoGP, and is said to be talking to BSB teams. And Karel Abraham is being linked with both WSBK and a possible role as test rider for KTM.

The big question mark is over Stefan Bradl. The German has had a truly appalling run of luck since losing his ride at LCR Honda, struggling with the Forward Yamaha, breaking his scaphoid, then losing his Forward ride when Cuzari was arrested. He found a home with Aprilia for the rest of the season, where he has performed exceptionally well, matching the performance of Alvaro Bautista and providing valuable input into the development process. There has been speculation that Aprilia could decide to keep Bradl over Sam Lowes, but the chances of that are slim. All the signs at Brno were that Lowes was the rider Aprilia were looking to for the future, while Bautista serves out the second year of his contract with the Italian factory.

It looks more likely that Bradl's future lies elsewhere. BMW are said to be interested in the German for their World Superbike effort, though a more likely result is that Bradl will return to Moto2. There is talk of a German "superteam" in the class, with Bradl taking a seat alongside Sandro Cortese in the Intact GP team. That would make sense for Bradl and for Intact GP, as it would give Cortese some help with set up and a fast target to aim at. Cortese has floundered since his switch to Moto2, with extremely inconsistent results, and a strong teammate could help remedy that.

Elsewhere in Moto2, a few moves are expected. Efren Vazquez is too old for Moto3 in 2016, and is set to move up to Moto2 with the QMMF team. Romano Fenati will also make the jump to Moto2, taking the place of Sam Lowes at Speed Up. Fenati's abysmal qualifying performances have not endeared him to the Sky VR46 team, and are something he will need to improve if he is to succeed in the middle class. The hottest seat available in Moto2 will be the vacant seat at Marc VDS when Tito Rabat moves up to MotoGP. Michael Bartholémy told us he had already signed a rider, but could only reveal his name at the Misano round of MotoGP. He would not be drawn on who that rider was, joking only that "when you hear the name, you will think I am a very clever manager!"

Hot favorite for the seat is Franco Morbidelli. The Italian has been impressive in Moto2 this year, finally getting on the podium at Indianapolis, after getting very close on a number of occasions. Morbidelli is highly rated, and on a strong Moto2 team could be expected to excel.

Misano is a likely round for Morbidelli to be announced, as well as a number of other Italian riders and teams. The next two rounds, at Silverstone and Misano, are likely to see a flurry of announcements, with Aragon the official deadline for submitting entries for Moto2 and Moto3. At that point, teams must supply the names of their riders, though that line up is likely to change before the teams turn up to the grid at Qatar. Much is still to be settled.

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From the beginning, LCR's sponsorship by CWM seemed more like a vanity deal than a sound business venture, IMO. In motorsports, there are examples of vanity sponsorships that work out just fine (Mike Curb, for example), but most do not. It is sad for LCR, but it was predictable. I hope LCR can recover and thrive, but I doubt Castrol is the answer. (Superbikeplanet also reported the LCR bikes donned Castrol colors for the post-race Brno test.)

LCR has been doing better than many in the $ dept, crafty and getting lots of smaller and mid sized sponsors. I have a good feeling they will piece it back together without CWM.

The Castrol livery at the test looks like a one-off for a Castrol promo video so nothing going on there (although the green looks great and it sure would be welcome of course).

The team was/is currently sponsored by a title sponsor - CWM, but there's no CWM logos anywhere on the bike. Why?

There's no reason to doubt that this is a promo video, but every reason to suppose that this is a HRC-backed, Castrol bail-out for LCR until the end of the season.

Anyone betting on LCR proudly showing CWM logos at Silverstone? No.

Also, why did LCR stop producing their wonderful 'Inspire' on-line magazine when CWM came onboard? Did they have serious doubts from the very start?

A lack of due diligence springs to mind, but at least they're safe with Castrol.

With CWM due to disappear off the bikes at Silverstone, I expect LCR to go back to their old and proven strategy of different title sponsors per race. I expect the Castrol livery will turn up at one race, at least, but there will be GIVI and others at different races. But we shall see.

Castrol pulled their sponsorship from the Ten Kate WSBK outfit not that long ago, I seriously doubt they would be willing to come up with the money as a title-sponsor for a MGP team... unless they're at the sharp end week-in week-out

Will be a good option for him, but the chances of him being the first champion in Motogp and WSBK, well, I don't gamble but the chances of that happening would be extremely low. Good luck to him.

I said that NH should go to WSB and be the first MotoGP and WSB champ, I still have a faint glimmer of hope that he can do that but I'm a tad concerned that it may be to late. Ah well, would be really good if he could prove me wrong and be the first.

Nicky hasn't made it through GP unscathed though; there's still lots of doubt over the strength of his wrist. Will he be able to man- handle production based bikes?

4 Yamahas
It doesn't seem so convincing that proffering 2 2015 M1's to a team much like Ducati and Honda will is a manufacturing burden. Rather it makes sense that the experience Yamaha has had with Forward has been a bit underwhelming and the team's difficulties added to that make it unpalatable. After all, what is in it for them to have a few of their bikes circulating near the back next season when the handful of slower bikes at the rear have gone?

Yamaha would be tethered with complaints from a Forward-like customer that their bike is not getting enough factory support while trying not to get beaten by Aprilia or finishing last. Ok Yamaha, fine. Without that burden, how about you do everyone including yourself a favor and provide Tech 3 with the best kit possible as fast as possible? Use them to develop your bike with you as a partner more than a customer. The closer Herve's bikes are to the front the better the battle with Honda. The more development of your machine takes place the quicker it will take shape as a Michelin shod corner speed missile to close the door on Hondas.

Speaking of Hondas, customers and development...Aspar and Miller could be in for a treat when Honda gets to do a quick fix on their 2015 motors. It really could be as easy as putting a beefier flywheel on it and VROOM - much better. No need to shed tears for Miller, not a bad bike? The problem with these 2015 factory bikes, including the Ducatis and what would have been the 2 Forward Yamahas, is that they are Bstone bikes. The Bstone front tire has been a cornerstone of chassis and suspension design. The range of set up on these bikes is wide, but is it wide enough to accommodate the Michelin tires? No.

Yamaha has conveniently dodged a bullet by "protecting their reputation" via having 4 2016 bikes out there. Good luck with your 2015 bikes you are buying, we will STILL have yet another way in which a tier exists within the field. At least this time it won't be about rules.

No tears will be shed here for the outgoing customer open Hondas or old CRT Aprilias. Anyone willing to hazard a prediction re the 2016 Suzuki or Aprilia vs the 2015 Honda next season? What about a prediction re which factory will surprise us with a 2016 bike that gets it right at Qatar with the Michelins and championship electronics?

I'll say that Aprilia will come out of the gate as strong as the Suzukis did this year. They're proven race winners in Superbike and 250s and clearly know how to make a chassis that works. Would love to see Eugene on that bike. Man when will that guy catch a break?

Thanks for chiming in. Aprilia as strong as Suzuki was this yr, check. I like it.

We have a race in which the field is likely to be closer from tip to tail. What if we loosely say there is a front pack race, a mid pack race, and a rear. And some riders/bikes moving between them. Isn't it great that we don't have such a clear sense of a rear "also ran" pack for next year?

Who will be where?

The 2015 Honda is designed with a bias towards Marquez's riding in which the braking zone has him overloading the front and smashing the stiff Bstone F tire carcass, taxing the grip available. The bike moves around a lot. It is stiff. Then on exit their electronics manage lots of power while the bike wags back and forth. They made it even more Marquez-like than even Marquez can ride, such that he can get a fast lap in but can't keep it at 10 tenths for long and keep it upright. Imagine the softer and less grippy Michelin front on that bike...oof!

The Yamaha on the other hand is designed to do the opposite, and has been shown to accommodate both Lorenzo and Rossi's styles on the brakes. Yes we will have a 17 with a bit less contact patch, but it will be as sticky as it is from the early laps longer into the lasts longer than the Bstone at high grip. And the bias is more rearward in terms of how you set the bike into apex carving grip. This benefits a sensitive throttle hand, think Stoner as the best example of this in recent years.

On exit we will have a rear tire that has offers relatively more drive grip than the Bstone in terms of how the bike must be designed and set up. Will the absolute grip at lean be higher on the Michelin w a 17 than the Bstone 16.5? Complicated - at which part of the race? On which track and conditions/temps? More important point is that it is higher RELATIVELY for how the bike must be developed, set up and ridden. And yes, I will guess it will be more sticky even as a 17, but that is a fools errand.

Drive out - from the lower gears the absolute amount of power a motor can churn isn't so important. What is? The chassis and suspension making mechanical grip. The electronics being able to manage wheelspin. Riding style working with getting the bike upright early. And the rider's right hand sensitivity.

Suzuki we know has a power deficit in the top 2 gears on the faster tracks. Yes. But they will be relatively advantaged with strengths of theirs. Perhaps the same will be said for Aprilia Genx? And conversely what good will all the outright power of the Ducati or Honda be if they can't get it manageable.

Anyone else wondering how much the focus of the design of the 2015 Gigi Ducati was with the 2016 electronics and Michelins in mind? Relative to Honda and Yamaha it is easy to say that it would be more so than their 2015's. How will the pair of 2014.2 Ducatis do with their old demon of getting turned in with softer carcass, more feel, but less grip of the Michelin? Relative to its competitors? Geez - tough guess there. Guess I will that it will make that issue better, not worse. They will have more feel, and not need to try to gain tenths on braking that aren't possible.

Biggest loser in the change to Michelins? 2015 Hondas for customers. Next year will be a poor one for them.

Biggest winners? Yamaha, and Jorge Lorenzo. They aren't smashing the front now, easy transition. And the consistent grip from the early to late stages will benefit his metronome consistency.

Question marks lay in what is going on for development of the new bikes. We can't just extrapolate from the 2015 bike characteristics to the 3016 bikes. Which factory is putting how much budget into it? Willing and able to attack development with new strategy? Getting it right?

Can't overlook Honda's engineering prowess. Nor Ducati (particularly Gigi Ducati) for their ingenuity. I have a guess that the Italians will have a good year with lots of tractable power and drive. This excites, perhaps we have 3 manufacturers at the front? And a bigger and more varied middle pack? And no one banished to circulate at the rear regardless of what rider is on board? There is reason to hope.

BIGGEST WINNER? Us. Everyone that loves the sport. The 2016 vintage looks great, and the 2017 looks even better from my seat.


my bold prediction for next year... is no prediction! maybe I'm putting too much emphasis on the tires, though I doubt it, but to me it just seems like this is going to completely change everything! maybe the teams are much more prepared than i realize to deal with the new tires, but from everything we here "Oh in 2012 Honda had to add a few kgs and all of sudden the front end was rattling all over the place" "oh the edge of these 2014 Bridgestones isn't quite what Jorge needed for his riding style-now he can't ride!". Minute changes like that can make world champions struggle, how is throwing on brand new rubber gonna go?!
These teams have YEARS of data based on these tires, will any of it matter? And do I not give them enough credit? Will they figure it out faster than I expect?
THEN you look at the imfamous Phillip Island race, is Michelin going to be ready for that???
Don't we remember when Bridgestone first became sole supplier? Riders were litteraly hurling themselves down the track. Binning it left and right, VIOLENTLY. It took a few years before they figured it out, I just hope we don't see that again.
I'm nervous for 2016 haha roll on 2017!

...for another great and utterly comprehensive round-up. There is indeed a lot more going on than most of us thought. Shame for Eugene.

Always love the silly season analysis David!!!
I spoke to Sam Lowes at Indy (awesome guy) and he told he he was definitely moving up, he just couldn't tell me where haha. At the time I didn't know he had been talking with Aprilia but then Bradl came along and I was scared maybe things were gonna fall through. Glad to hear it still seems more than likely. Lowes is a great rider and I can't wait to see him in the premier class!

When is all the love for slightly above average British motorcycle racers going to cease. Lowes over Bradl or Hayden (if accurate) is completely asinine. Zarco, Rins or Rabat are in better form than he is and certainly a Moto2 championship is far more valuable than the Supersport. Crutchlow - nice rider on his day, inconsistent, complainer who jumps ship every couple years. Redding - See Crutchlow, we'll see how many times his leathers change. Laverty - Good Superbike rider, not GP level but likeable guy. Kent - Great year, Moto2 fail previous, remains to be seen. Moto2 is where he belongs, conquer those demons first. Smith - The only one of them who could handle a full factory ride. Good luck to you Brad. In fact, I dont even understand how Crutch has kept the LCR ride - must be the bike. O well, we saw this with the Spanish riders 10 yrs ago. It all goes around I suppose, except to the U.S. --> In Wayne We Trust.

uhhhh never said anything about blind love for British riders. I like Sam Lowes. I like a lot of riders. I'm American! We don't care about nationality (... well). Talent is what matters (maybe some personality). Lowes over Bradl or Hayden asinine?! THAT sounds like blind fandom. Bradl although an extremely talented rider and moto2 champ has done nothing but under achieve (more or less, just ask Honda) since coming into the GP. Hayden, albiet one of my favorite riders, has been living on buyed time since 2010. Lowes is an up and coming rider with a lot of potential, you can't see why some of the lower teams might be interested in him? Check the definitiion of asinine.
I can see the argument for Zarco, Rins and Rabat, BUT Rins is in his first moto2 season and is contracted, so you can't really make the argument he should get a GP bike next year over Lowes. Zarco? Sure, give him a GP bike, probably deserves one. Never said he didn't or that Lowes should over him. Rabat, again, same with Zarco. But I think what you're missing is that Lowes has proved time and time again that even WITHOUT the right equipment he can be competitive and even win. THAT is why teams are interested in him. Julian Simon is doing the best he can on the SPEED UP but pales in comparison to what Lowes is doing and Westy? Unless its raining.
That WSS championship you so quickly discount was on a Yamaha R6 that really had no business winning races against a man on a bike that had won several titles in the class already. THAT is why teams are interested in him. He has a track record of taking what is given to him and making it work. Zarco, Rins and Rabat are all on arguably better machinery.
You go on a rant saying whats wrong with all these British riders I didn't even mention. I wouldn't lose any sleep if I woke up tomorrow to find out Crutchlow and Redding have been replaced. Hey why not throw Hayes and Beabier on right?.
But, just like with the influx of spanish riders, you shouldn't discredit someones talent based off their nationality. "oooo Sam Lowes is British and that's what the people want. Quick Carmelo, tell Aprilia they have to sign him over Zarco"

Hahaha easy there my friend. Comment was more a broad interpretation of the way I see the current sea of change in MotoGP, not a direct response to your opinion. My apologies if you took it this way :) Nationality will always play a role when determining who get what seat. The only factor? Of course not, but an important variable. Talent and marketability and/or bank account are the primary factors when considering seat choice. For whatever reason, British riders are deemed both talented and marketable today. You said it, sponsorship money moves everything. For the teams and the series, it is equally important. That being the case, Dorna and the teams have a responsibility to attract as many eyeballs to the broadcast and racetrack as possible. Approximately 65M people live in Great Britain. Even thought that number is less than Russia, Germany and France we see a movement lately to put British riders into Moto2 and MotoGP. Why? Because the British fan base is both wildly excited about motorcycle racing and prosperous enough on average to spend fair amounts of money supporting their addiction. It seems to be the only country at the moment, European or otherwise that combines three critical factors: a huge fan base, discretionary spending and talented riders. You cannot say the say for any other country. Italy, Spain, France, Germany, United States, Australia, Russia, South Africa and South East Asia it seems only fill two of the three requirements. This makes the Union Jack a very desirable target to teams and series brass. My only point was that maybe the British talent level is suspect and that a reassessment of what is most valuable to the series should be questioned. Two years ago Hayden was on terms with Dovi and Bradl consistently near the front. If Nickys wrist is truly an issue, how is it that WSBK offers are on the table? On a better bike, I believe he can still compete top 5-10, perhaps more. Same goes for Bradl, he is a proven commodity who by the way is only a year older than Lowes. Given that, how is it Lowes deserves the seat at Aprilia outside of projection and passport? As for the Moto2 guys, contracts are really only worth the paper they are printed on in most cases. Both sides usually work in loopholes in the event things do not work out. Buyouts, special clauses, restructure and the like are the norm not the exception, in all business deals! I like Lowes, I like all the Brits. Lets try to be a bit more realistic when determining true potential if results, as we would all like to see, is the primary measure. Ok fire away! In my bunker.

Sorry, was having too much fun :( and asinine is one of my trigger words :,(

The whole article by David Emmett reads well and is logical. But it underplays the part that money and sponsorship have yet again become an issue that seems insurmountable along with the fact that ART, Open Class machinery running some minutes behind the factory machines is a joke, and a big one at that. From next year on there will be only one class and that sounds nice but there are unpredictable things in there and all of them emanate from how the standard ECU with settings available to all will work. I think there could be a disaster in the making here with two new unknown quantities coming in. The standard ECU and the Michelin tyres (the rain ruining test sessions I guess can be seen as a further complication that stands in the way of Michelin getting some data they require). I don't feel too bad for Stefan Bradl but I cannot understand why Aprilia is preferring Sam Lowes over him. It is really a question that defies a logically sustainable answer. If Dorna really wants to have a team in place of Forward, they could persuade Aprilia to put out this year's bikes as customer bikes next year. They would not be that expensive. Interesting times indeed.

How much money did bt sport pay for the tv rights? Do they have a say on how many British riders they would like to see in the line up? There are more brits now in motogp than since i can remember. Is Dorna influenced by the rights holders?

I highly doubt BT sports was the reason Sam Lowes is in moto2 or that he might be tipped to move up to GP. But if you want to make that argument couldn't you say that about every major TV rights holder? SKY I'm sure pays a hefty amount, so why isn't Fenati moving up to GP next year and Kent might be? Because BT bribed Dorna more than SKY? I'm sure FoxSports1 pays a decent amount for the TV rights but thats not why Nicky is there and if it was then how come we still have no young prospects.
Sorry, don't mean to be argumentative but I just hate it when people say that this rider is only here cause he's Spanish, or British or what have you. Obviously there are politics and huge sums of money involved, but do you think that they would really go through the trouble to bring up a rider that had NO chance of being competitive? They invest their money, and they expect a return on investment.
OK I'll play the game, lets say BT actually DID say Aprilia had to sign Sam Lowes. Would they really risk their money if they didn't think he could cut it? If he was going to languish in 20th all season. I'm American and personally, I HATE seeing Nicky busting his ass for a point or two, it almost hurts more to see him struggle like that.
Certain riders have special opportunities, if you want to poke holes in Sam Lowes or any rider based on their nationality then poke holes in Abraham's dad buying him a team so he can play GP, or any of these guys growing up exceedingly weathly enough to even catch a break

David covered this in the article, They bring big money to the team I guess you could say they buys their jobs and I also thinks how popular a rider is with the fans and the press plays a part . after all isn't that what life is really all about money and popularity.

I hope Hayden will build the team around him instead of taking whats on the table, as far as crew chief. That's always seemed to be his biggest problem and baffles my mind. Hell, bust out Tom Houseworth. I think they even worked together in his early days.

If Danny Kent does go to MotoGP next year, he won't be completely skipping Moto2. He already rode a season in Moto2, for Tech3 in 2013. Okay, he did not score higher than a 12th place finish, but still. The Tech3 Mistral chassis is not the best in that class either.

The minute I find out Nicky has signed on for SBK, I will start planning my trip to Laguna Seca. With the right bike and the right support, I think he has a legitimate chance at winning. Personally, I would like to see him on a Panagale. He has a good relationship with Ducati and could sell a lot of bikes for them in America. Go Nicky!

Nicky and his brother Tom have been chatting with Aprilia as per the rumor mill.

Tommy helps Nicky with negotiations. He is also an employee of Monster energy drink, in charge of motorcycle sponsorships.

Would love to see #69 in WSBK, but only if he's on a good bike, aka not the Honda or Suzuki.

Redding - I know it's his 2nd year, but it's really his 1st year on a real MotoGP bike since the POS he rode last year was very different. He's working with a new to MotoGP team. I don't blame him for wanting to jump ship though - another bad year on the Honda, and he will have a hard time getting a good ride.

I hope Scott doesn't do like Cal. Jumping ship and changing bike too often doesn't pay off. He thinks he could perform like Andrea, Pol thinks he can fight with Marc... Maybe there's more to it than the bike?

I think Cal's tactics have paid off very well for him. He's been on two top tier satellite bikes, and a factory bike, and yet only outperformed one team mate since coming to GP - and that was Bradley Smith in Smith's rookie year. In this year's championship, Cal is only narrowly beating Petrucci - who is riding the exact Ducati that Cal quit on last year.

I'm not saying that he can't ride a bike, but he has trouble consistently riding the bike [he's contracted to ride] for the prescribed number of laps on race day.

Yeah Redding was never going to make it. Has never really done anything impressive in any class. Waste of a ride, he'll ride around the back on the Ducati for a year or two and then disappear to WSB. Same for Kent.

MotoGPs obsession with mediocre British riders is getting rather annoying. Thankfully we've got a decent amount of Italians coming through it seems, Morbidelli and Bastianini are very impressive.

Personally I am looking forward to watching Bo Bendsneyder in Moto3.

I'm REALLY struggling to see any logic whatsoever in this comment. Redding's last season in Moto2 was hugely impressive. Morbidelli on the other hand has only done 2 things of note: one solitary podium and torpedoing Rabat a few weeks ago.

Really, was it? He was in the best team on the grid, had a huge advantage at the start of the year because of the combined weight minimum and had a couple of seasons experience in Moto2. Still he couldn't even come close to winning the title, even though almost everyone expected him to. I remember at the season's halfway point being ridiculed for pointing out that Espargaro was going to win the title easily.

Winning a couple of races in Moto2 is nothing to write home about. He also did absolutely nothing of note on the Honda last year. A bad bike is not an excuse, in fact that's where real talent shows.

Your version of history is a bit different to everybody else's ; Redding's 2013 was excellent up until he broke his wrist in Australia QP with 3 races to go.

2014, top open Honda not mean anything?

"Winning a couple of races in Moto2 is nothing to write home about."

Theres 32 world class riders lined up here to have a word with you. Thats a pretty awful assessment of the standard of racing in Moto2. If sir feels he can do better........

personally I'm getting sick of everyones obsession with Swiss riders in Moto2, and South Africans in Moto3, and Italians in Moto2 and 3. I don't get Dorna's obsession with Europeans really. I mean c'mon are Europeans the only people who race motorcycles??? No scratch that, Malayasians too! I wonder how much Malayasia pays Dorna to teach them how to ride motorcylces. But the Spanish are the worst. I'm just saying, if Marc Marquez was born in Canada and not Spain he'd never amount to anything, he'd work at a Tim Hortans and no one would like him. Maybe he could play hockey. Maybe. And Lorenzo and Pedrosa, HA! The only reason they are there is cause their Spanish. It definitely ISN'T because their world class telents and never give up attitude and bravery/cojones, NO NO it's cause they're Spanish :-p

Can we stop with the "this guy is on the grid cause of his passport" stuff yet? It's sponsorship plain and simple, money makes the world go round. If Aprilia had the choice between 2 equally talented riders they're going to take whichever one can bring in the most money, not which country they are from.

I have always wondered why so many top riders who are high profile, talented and front running in moto 2 & 3 are in such a hurry to womble around at the back of moto gp on poor machinery especially regarding the sponsorship side of things. Yes, I realize its the premier class etc but if I was sponsor I would surely put my money on a top running moto 2 or 3 team than a back of the grid moto gp team. For instance most of us on this site seem glued to the screen during the competitive moto 3 races, usually watching every lap of the race therefore seeing the top running guys sponsors for a full 40 minutes or so. Now in Moto gp we only ever really get to see the top running guys and a bit of mid pack footage but this year I think I have seen about 10 seconds IN TOTAL of the season of Nicky Hayden about 20 seconds of Jack Miller [usually when he crashes] and I don't believe I have ever seen Mike di Meglio, Alex de Angelis or Karel Abraham once in the whole season, thus making the idea of sponsorship for exposure of these bikes a very poor investment.

On the opposite end of the scale I have seen a great deal of the sponsors names [even if I don't know the companies] of front running riders in moto 2 & 3 such as the liveries of Kent, Bastianni, Fenati, Olivera etc in moto 3 and an awful lot of Zarco, Rabbat, Rins, Luthi, etc in moto 2 [Sam Lowes changes his livery so often I just cant seem to 'see' him as much even though he is often at the front]

I am puzzled as to why , with the great disparity in Moto gp at the moment, sponsors even bother with the lower end of the moto gp grid, but at the same time sure glad they do or else we would have only 6 - 8 bikes racing in the premier class. Also guys like Jack Miller were talked about , photographed , interviewed, featured in articles all the time when they were in the lower classes but now have disappeared into wilderness virtually never to be seen again.

I also wonder how much it costs to sponsor a front running moto 2 & 3 bike compared to a back of the grid moto gp team.

Being in the back of the grid makes you very obscure. I had even forgotten about the name of the team for Karel Abraham. Were it not for this injury that ruled hime out for three or so races, I could have hardly not he existed. I can't even tell the face of Di Meglio without googling it first.

I would really like someone, with a sponsor's perspective, to explain the benefit. TV time is severely limited. it is better to sponsor a mid-top to top moto 2 or moto 3 bike.

I raised this point last year. It's one of the great mysteries of the universe to me. It seems like an utterly miserable experience for a racer to begin each race with minimal expectation of a top-ten finish. The TV companies only cast a pitying eye on the scraps between these also-rans when it's a particularly dull race.
Somehow there must be a living in it. Perhaps the sponsors are more interested in inviting customers to their hospitality suites, rather than publicizing their wares to the riff-raff. Somebody claimed these perennial MotoGP back-markers can sell advertising space on their leathers for about $1 million per year. Who knows?
There's a particular genre of pornography where a naked woman languishes in the background, and never participates in the main action. She's known as 'decoration'. That's how I view these MotoGP donkeys.

As David wrote about some time last year (IIRC), there's more to sponsorship than having your logo seen on the side of a bike. Phillip Morris keeps sponsoring the Ducati team and all they get is their brand's color on the bike (and not even that on Rossi's old bike). What they get is a roaming entertainment venue that they can take around the world and use to schmooze executives from other companies. It's the hospitality tent not the race that brings the sponsors.

With the talk of current riders such as Hayden taking up an Aprilia seat in WSBK, what will happen to the current line-up of Haslam and Torres? What are the rumors regarding their fates?

I have to defend Nicky Hayden. The RCV1000R is a SLOW motorcycle. No one has been competitive on this bike it's best finish to date was its first outing at Quatar last year where Redding and Hayden finished 7th and 8th nose to tail some 32 seconds behind the winner. The results have gotten worse this year. Some good riders have ridden the bike including Redding (thought highly enough of that he got a factory bike in his second year of MotoGP), Aoyama (250 world champ), Laverty (SBK race winner), Jack Miller (HRC thinks very highly of him!), and of course Stoner (in a much discussed smoke screen testing role). None of these riders, including Stoner have been fast or competitive on this bike. In fact, I would be willing to bet that even if you took factory or former factory Honda riders like Crutchlow, Bradl, and Bautista and put them on this bike their results would be just as dismal. The reality is that there is no one that can ride this bike and make it competitive. It was made to race against other RCV1000Rs, the Forward Yamahas, etc. Now, couple this fact with the fact that Hayden rode another well documented uncompetitive bike while at Ducati. The two years that he teamed with Rossi were interesting to me too. Hayden out raced Rossi 11 times in 33 starts. This shows me that on equal machinery Hayden is no slouch. Rossi was of course able to get back on a competitive bike and has been running near the front almost ever since. What would Rossi have accomplished if he had left Ducati only to end up on a RCV1000R the last two years? It just seems to me that Hayden gets bashed a lot for his lack of results since he left the Repsol squad many years ago. If you study the situation you just can't help but notice that no one has been competitive on the Ducati during his years there (not even the greatest rider of this era) nor on the RCV1000R. I would love to see Hayden get back on a bike (motoGP or SBK) that is capable of running up front. Then we could really see if he still has what it takes to be competitive. I think it will be a shame if he just slips quietly into retirement at the end of the season. Consider the fanfare guys like Edwards and Capirossi got when they left MotoGP. Hayden is a former champion. Neither of those riders won a MotoGP championship and one of them never even won a race. Nicky deserves better.

"Now, couple this fact with the fact that Hayden rode another well documented uncompetitive bike while at Ducati."

No doubt the Ducati was a volatile beast to ride, but it was still extremely competitive when ridden by Stoner in 2009 and 2010, who finished fourth both years. In 2009 Stoner won 4 times and podiumed another 4. Hayden podiumed once in 3rd, and finished far behind his team-mate, who missed four races and was handicapped in others by a debilitating medical condition.
In 2010 Stoner won 3 out of 4 races near the end of the season and podiumed another 6 times - Hayden again podiumed once, and finished well behind #27.

Yes, when you compare him to one the most talented riders that's ever thrown a leg over a motorcycle then he pales by comparison. It is very well documented that Stoner is really the only rider to have enjoyed consistent success on the Ducati. I am certainly not saying that Hayden is as quick as Stoner, Rossi, Marquez, or Pedrosa. I'm am saying though that he could still be competitive vs everyone else if he were on equal machinery. He and Dovi were very evenly matched in 2013 at Ducati.

What about the relevant comparison to Jack Miller this year? Nicky has more experience on the big bikes, Nicky has crashed out of races less this year, Nicky has raced at the pointy end of MotoGP so he knows what thats like. Yet Jack Miller is beating him on points.

Until Nicky handily beats Jack Miller can't say he is giving competitive teams a reason to give him a ride. And if you can't compare his result to Stoner why compare him to Rossi?

You are correct about the points. However, if you look at it race by race then you will see that Hayden has beaten him 7-3. Both of them have best finishes of 11th. Nicky's worst finish this year has been 17th while Miller has a 19th and a 20th place finish. Points don't necessarily tell the whole story. I like Miller a lot and think that we may see him on the factory team in a couple of years but although showing some flashes of speed this year he really isn't exactly putting it to Hayden, yet...

... and will result in the United States having no MotoGP representation. Similarly, the loss of Baz and Di Meglio will mean no French riders in the top-class either. So will Germany's only representative, Stefan Bradl, be allowed to slip through the net and into oblivion also?

I doubt it - not without a fight.

It's been interesting to witness the propaganda campaign being waged on the German's behalf by (a popular German website reputed to be run by Bradl's manager) over the past week or so, in order to try to secure Bradl the remaining Aprilia ride over Britain's Sam Lowes.

First, there was the 'threat' to DORNA that Bradl might leave MotoGP to join forces with Sandro Cortese in a German 'Super Moto2' team at Dynavolt Intact.

Next, there was an interview with Luc Boscoscuro (the team owner of Speed-Up who Lowes currently rides for in Moto2). In the interview (recently picked-up on by the Italian website, Boscoscuro highlighted Lowes' inexperience, poor riding technique and poured doubt over his ability to help develop the Aprilia.

That was quickly followed by an interview with ex-Moto2 rider and MotoGP rookie, Maverick Vinales who said that Bradl should stay in MotoGP, and quoted Aprilia boss, Albesiano at Indy, as saying: "Stefan has accomplished something very special. I particularly like the way he regards the training and working on the set-up of the machine."

Finally, there's an article on the same website this week suggesting that Aspar is Lowes' only real hope of a MotoGP ride in 2016 - that's despite Lowes having recently signed a three-year, pre-contract agreement with Aprilia.

The passport will ensure that it'll happen. Bradl will win and Lowes will lose out.

So will it be Kent or Redding at Ducati?

Obviously, it will be Redding. Kent's 'dillied and dallied' for far too long - that's assuming that Ducati were ever really serious about him in the first place.

Hayden a future WSB champion? Sorry, but no. As good as he once was, he'll never get past Davies and Rea. His time has come and gone.

There is no way that a guy like Nicky is less worthy of a contract than Redding, Lowes or any other rider, prove to me that they have what it takes, face it, you can't. If you put the guy in a good team run by a person who knows racing and build the team with good people all around he may not win but is showing his worth much better than Cal Crashmo, who's savvy business acumen is the only reason he is employed today.

" . . no way a guy like Nicky is less worthy of a contract than Redding, Lowes or any other rider, prove to me that they have what it takes, face it, you can't."
It's been almost a decade since Hayden was a contender. Perhaps you should prove he still has what it takes.

Nicky, a contender? No, he is a former MotoGP world champion, less than a decade ago. In fact, when the grid forms up this weekend at Silverstone he will once again be 1 of only 4 MotoGP champs in the GP. The other 20 or so in the race? They have exactly zero MotoGP championships combined. Furthermore, if you take Pedrosa out of the mix then you can count the number of MotoGP wins for these 20 or so riders on one finger! Making it to MotoGP is a huge accomplishment. Winning a Grand Prix is very, very special. The list of riders who have competed in the premier class and never tasted victory is very long. Winning a championship truly sets you apart and ensures that your name will always be remembered in this sport. The overwhelming majority of those who line up for this Sunday's race will never be crowned MotoGP world champion. Most will never even win a single Grand Prix. Sadly, some of these same riders get more respect and are held in higher regard than number 69. The proof is indeed in the pudding. Maybe they are the ones that need to prove themselves. I think Nicky already has.

Hayden can recount past glories to Kentucky locals over fried chicken any time he likes. If you're a race team boss proffering a contract, there's one thing which will get your respect - who is currently riding a motorcycle very quickly? If Hayden were doing that, his phone would be ringing.

Nearly 9x Silly Seasons since Tony Elias' '06 last win by a Satellite Bike.
The list of talent and the scarcity of good bikes makes for sad reading.
Knowing that only one of 4x bikes has a reasonable chance of winning (or 5x if you add in Casey Stoner, even a CS27 victory on a Ducati is five seasons ago).

OK, the GP.15 Ducati is almost there, as are their riders.
Suzuki's riders are there, just need the top speed.

Still, we should be seeing better racing from the satellite Hondas and Yamahas (both bikes and riders). Lots fingers to point here.