Herve Poncharal

Carmelo Ezpeleta's Grand Plan, Or The Long History Behind Tech3's Switch To KTM

Sometimes decisions are a long time in the making. Tech3's decision to leave Yamaha and sign with KTM may have been made in the space of a few months, but the genesis of that choice, the process that made it all possible is ten years in the making. If MotoGP hadn't switched from 990cc to 800cc at the start of the 2007 season, if the ban on tobacco sponsorship in sports hadn't been enforced from 2005, if the financial system hadn't collapsed under the weight of tranches of "ninja" loans, Tech3 would be a Yamaha satellite team for the foreseeable future. Whether they wanted to be or not.

How did MotoGP get to a place where Tech3 could switch to KTM? To make complete sense of the story, we have to go back to the end of the last century. Through the last 1990s, the popularity of Grand Prix racing was waning, while the World Superbike series went from strength to strength. The manufacturers were losing interest in the 500cc class, as two strokes were gradually disappearing from the road.

Big bore four strokes were the flavor of the month among motorcycle buyers, and the factories were investing less and less in their two stroke racers. The manufacturers expressed an interest in racing four strokes in the premier class, and Dorna sketched out a contract with the MSMA, the organization representing the manufacturers, and MotoGP was born.

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2018 Week 1 News Round Up: Rossi's Ranch, Retiring Youngsters, And Preparing For Sepang

Though the world of motorcycle racing slowed to a crawl over the holiday season, that does not mean that nothing happened whatsoever. Racing news trickled out from around the globe, as riders, teams, and factories made decisions, and racing collided with the real world. So here's a round up of some of the news stories you may have missed while we were away over the past couple of weeks.

Rossi's Ranch wins in the courts

The year started off with good news for Valentino Rossi. Ever since it was built, some local residents have complained about the noise and nuisance caused by Rossi's dirt track ranch, situated just east of his home village of Tavullia. A group of locals lodged formal complaints against the ranch with the Tavullia council, alleging several violations of local rules, such as missing documents including an environmental impact assessment, as well as complaints about excess noise and noise outside of normal operating hours.

Those complaints were dealt with by a regional court earlier this week, the Regional Administrative Tribunal (TAR) of the Marche region, where Tavullia is located. The court rejected the complaints, dismissing a part as having no grounds to proceed, a part as being inadmissible, and rejecting the remainder.

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MotoGP Rule Change Imminent: 'Intermediate' Category To Be Added Between Factory Option And Open Classes

The CRT-replacement Open class in MotoGP is causing an even bigger shake up of the class than was expected. The outright speed of the Forward Yamaha at the first two Sepang tests provoked a testy response from Honda, who claimed it was entirely against the spirit of the rules. Then came news that Ducati was to switch to an Open entry, giving them the freedom to develop their engines and use more fuel, in exchange for giving up their own ECU software. This provoked an even angrier response from Honda, Repsol Honda team principal Livio Suppo telling the MotoGP.com website that they were unhappy with the introduction of the new ECU software Magneti Marelli brought to the second Sepang test, which was much more sophisticated, though it was not used by the teams.

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CRT FAQ: Everything You Always Wanted To Know About The Claiming Rule Teams, But Were Afraid To Ask

The introduction of the Claiming Rule Teams has caused a massive wave of confusion among MotoGP fans, and left then with a host of questions. Below, we attempt to answer most of the questions that race fans have about this new category of bikes, as well as addressing how it came to be created in the first place.

What on earth is a CRT?

CRT stands for Claiming Rule Team, and is a new category of entry in the MotoGP class. They will run alongside the normal factory and satellite MotoGP bikes (now officially classified as "factory prototypes" regardless of whether they are being run in a factory team or a satellite team), and be subject to slightly different rules.

What are the rule differences between the CRTs and the factory prototypes?

The CRT entries will be allowed more fuel and more engines: while factory prototypes will have 21 liters of fuel and be allowed to use 6 engines in 2012 (just as in 2011), the CRT entries will be given 24 liters of fuel to last a race, and have 12 engines for the 2012 season. Because of these advantages, existing manufacturers (Honda, Yamaha or Ducati) will be allowed to claim engines from CRT entries.

What does "claiming an engine" mean and how does it work?

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Poncharal: "Crutchlow Is Our First Choice!"

Despite all attempts to put MotoGP's silly season on hold while the world awaits Valentino Rossi's announcement that he has signed for Ducati, the business of filling next year's empty seats rumbles on. That business is most pressing for the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, as the team looks set to lose both its current riders at the end of this season.

In an interview with the French website Moto Caradisiac, Monster Tech 3 team boss Herve Poncharal sheds some light on his plans for 2011. The interview covers both MotoGP and Moto2, and in it, Poncharal lets slip a few interesting details.

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Herve Poncharal Interview: "Replacing Ben Will Be Very Difficult For Us"

The US GP at Laguna Seca naturally saw the American riders in the limelight, which placed even more pressure than usual on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team. With two home riders - Ben Spies and Colin Edwards - expectations were running very high of Team Texas. And so on Saturday morning, after the FP2 session but before qualifying, we sent MotoMatters.com's man on the scene, Jensen Beeler - moonlighting from his day job as editor of the outstanding website Asphalt & Rubber - to catch up with Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal. Poncharal talked to Beeler about the team's expectations for the race, about the possibility of Spies ending on the podium or even winning a race before the season is out, about Spies' future with Yamaha, about the future of Colin Edwards and about the difficulty of finding riders to replace one or both of the men currently riding for the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team. Here's what Poncharal had to say.

Jensen Beeler: Obviously you had a very good day today, Ben was 5th, Colin was 7th, fastest satellite team ...

Herve Poncharal: Yesterday afternoon and this morning, I think we've done really well. For sure, there a lot of people in the paddock who are stopping me and telling me "you're going to win this race!" or "you're going to be on the podium!" I think for sure we would love to win this race, we would love to be on the podium, but we have to be realistic. Already, to be 5th and 7th like this morning is a really good achievement. Both riders are riding really strong, really well.

Of course we were expecting Ben to do really well. And he is doing well. But the big thing for me here is for the very first time this season, I've seen Colin pushing, I've seen Colin with a smile, and I've seen Colin doing really well. So this is good, because so far, Ben has been doing extremely good and Colin was struggling a bit this year.

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Herve Poncharal: "Replacing Valentino Rossi Is Almost Impossible"

The race to fill Valentino Rossi's seat is now running at full pace, not least in the press. Since Saturday afternoon at Mugello, the phones of everyone even tangentially involved with Yamaha's MotoGP effort have been ringing off the hook, with everyone from journalists calling for information to riders at every level offering their services.

Herve Poncharal is one such victim. As boss of the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, and as someone with very strong ties to Yamaha Racing, he has had everyone with access to his phone number calling him to either ask him questions or offer advice. So it was a very tired Tech 3 boss who took MotoMatters.com's call to answer the questions he has been facing for the past 9 days.

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Herve Poncharal: I Don't Think There Will Be Any 800cc Bikes In 2012

On the Saturday of the Jerez MotoGP weekend, the Grand Prix Commission met to further hammer out the regulations which will govern the MotoGP class from the 2012 season. It was feared that the meeting would fail to come up with a clear definition of the bikes to be run by the Claiming Rule Teams, the privateer teams expected to enter MotoGP with production-based engines in prototype chassis. So it came as no surprise that the minutes of the press release of the Grand Prix Commission merely modified the penalty for using an extra engine in the 2010 season, dropping it from 20 seconds to 10.

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Poncharal On Valencia Moto2 Test: "A Big Step Forward"

Valencia has not so far been a lucky venue for Tech 3's Moto2 team. The team was scheduled to test at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in December, and were confronted with snow, a rarity in this part of Spain. Returning  to the track for this week's test alongside some of the World Superbike teams, they were spared snow, but instead had to deal with two days of rain and a cold and wet track. So when the sun came out on Thursday morning, the team breathed a collective sigh of relief. As Herve Poncharal put it: "We got here on Monday and since then we have only had 4 hours on track, but finally we got some work done."

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