The announcement that the Jack&Jones team was pulling out of the Moto2 World Championship came as a something of a shock, for several reasons. Firstly, European fashion retailer Jack&Jones had been involved in motorcycle racing for several years; secondly, the withdrawal left both Kenny Noyes - Moto2's only American competitor, and a popular figure in Spain, where he is based - and Gabor Talmacsi - still a huge star in Hungary - out of a ride for 2011; but perhaps most surprising of all was the loss of face for Antonio Banderas, the Spanish / Hollywood actor who had backed the team.
The reason given was unsurprising; title sponsor Jack&Jones had pulled out of the project, leaving no money to run the team. Since the announcement, further stories have emerged that the team's finances were not in order throughout 2010: the team's press officer has issued a number of statements in which she claims that team manager Dani Devahive has failed to pay her, and the lack of development the riders complained of has been put down to an apparent financial dispute between Promoracing (the organization behind the team) and Harris, the UK-based chassis builders who supplied the frames for the team's Moto2 effort.
That dispute was part of the reason the team scored such disappointing results. After a strong start to the season - Kenny Noyes running at the front of the race at Jerez, until his tires went off, and scoring a pole position at Le Mans - the results of both Noyes and his erstwhile teammate Joan Olive sagged, with the Spanish races the only events where Noyes could get inside the top 20, ending the year in 24th spot in the championship, while Olive failed to score a point all year. Poor results led to the sponsor withdrawing, and that left the Moto2 championship without a single American rider.
That is not to be, however. Kenny Noyes' ride in Moto2 has been saved by the BQR team - who fielded Yonny Hernandez and Mashel Al Naimi on their own custom-built chassis in 2010. BQR are already fielding a two-man team of Hernandez and Tito Rabat for 2011, after making the switch to the competitive FTR bikes for the upcoming season. But BQR put together a project with the Canadian-based Fogi Racing, and GPTech, the US racing specialists who fielded Jason Disalvo on board an FTR at the Indianapolis MotoGP round last year. With support from Avintia, a Spanish construction company, Noyes will race under the flag of Avintia-STX aboard an FTR M211, under the auspices of the BQR team.
Noyes had spent the past six weeks hard at work with several teams, trying to obtain a ride for 2011, while at the same time recovering from shoulder surgery, similar to that undergone by Valentino Rossi at the end of the 2010 season. Noyes had several offers, but his experience with the Jack&Jones team meant that he was determined to secure a ride on board a competitive bike. Buckingham-based FTR had produced a chassis which had proven to be extremely competitive over the course of 2010, winning several races in the hands of Andrea Iannone, though the bike had been rebadged as a Speed Up under FTR's deal with the Italian team. Now familiar with the tracks after his rookie season, and aboard a proven chassis, Noyes will have a second chance to make an impression in Moto2.
Below is the press release issued by Kenny Noyes PR team:
Kenny Noyes Signs with BQR in World Moto2
American Kenny Noyes, left without a ride when the Spanish Promoracing team suddenly withdrew, will return to the Moto2 World Championship riding with the Barcelona-based BQR team. Noyes will join Colombian Yonny Hernández and Spaniard Esteve Rabat on the three-rider BQR team which has just announced a switch to FTR prototypes. While his teammates will ride in Blusens-STX colors, Noyes' bike will be in Avintia-STX colors and with additional support from Fogi Racing of Canada and GPtech of the United States. For Noyes, once again the only US rider in Moto2, this is a homecoming because he began his roadracing career in Spain with BQR back in 2001.
Several teams contacted the American after the surprise collapse of the Promoracing team, but the best offer came from his old friends at BQR.
"As soon as we learned that his team had withdrawn, we contacted him and began working to find the budget to run a third bike," said BQR team owner Raúl Romero. " We are very glad to have Kenny back and believe he will make a big step forward this year on our FTR.
Noyes' British FTR M211 will be provided by Canadian-based Fogi Racing owner, Angus Borland. American Geoff Maloney (GPtech) worked with Boland in 2010 and directed the successful wild card entry at the Indianapolis Grand Prix with American Jason Disalvo. Maloney met Kenny during private testing at Indianapolis prior to the GP. When he learned that Kenny's team had withdrawn, he managed to bring Kenny and BQR together with Fogi Racing.
Fogi Racing is a Canadian racing team active and successful in both Canada and the United States by supporting young up-and-coming talent like 17-year old Ben Young for the last two seasons and this year in AMA Supersport. They also backed wild card entries for Scot Kev Coghlan in Europe in addition to the Indianapolis entry.
Borland said, "As Fogi/FTR join the Moto2 World Championships with US rider Kenny Noyes, BQR and GPtech, we look forward to a successful season together and to creating a buzz within our industry in North America and beyond in the hope we will receive further support and sponsorship to continue our success."
Maloney added, "From our experience at Indy we learned a lot about the FTR and we believe Kenny, who had some good results in his first GP season, will run in the lead group in 2011. This year he knows all the tracks and, I believe, will be on a more competitive bike."
Last season Noyes was one of ten "true rookies" (riders who had never taken part in a Grand prix in any class) among the permanent riders in the 40-bike Moto2 field and his two seventh places were the two best individual results achieved by a first time GP rider in the new Moto2 class. As a season highlight, he took the pole at the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, one of 14 new tracks that he had to learn over the 17-race season.
"I am really glad to be back with Raúl Romero and BQR team," said Kenny. "I want to especially thank Angus Borland for stepping up to help make this work with BQR. Thanks also Geoff Maloney for putting us together with Fogi Racing, to my helmet sponsor, HJC, and my leathers sponsor, Arlen Ness, for sticking with me through all this. It has been a rough time for us. I had shoulder surgery at the beginning of December and was still in the hospital when I got the call telling me that the team had pulled out because of sponsor problems. We started working that same day to find a competitive team. I've been in the gym for the last three weeks and will start riding dirt bikes next week. I ride the FTR for the first time on February 7 at the Circuit of Catalunya. I'll be a little sore at first, maybe at about 80% for the first preseason tests but I'll be 100% ready when the season starts at Qatar in March. I'm stoked!"