The First Improbable Rumors of the 2013 Silly Season: Rossi To Yamaha, Stoner To Retire?

Two traditions surround MotoGP's Silly Season: the first is that it kicks off earlier each year; and the second is that it kicks off with the wilder and more improbable rumors, before settling down and becoming a fraction realistic until the contracts finally start to get signed. The problem with the improbable rumors is that occasionally, one of the truly barking ones turns out to be true.

The rider merry-go-round for 2013 is no exception. With all of the MotoGP riders out of contract at the end of 2012, the permutations of riders and bikes are almost endless. The rumors began at the very first race, with wildly speculative reports from Italy that Valentino Rossi had a satellite Yamaha backed by Coca Cola lined up for 2013. What most damaged the credibility of such reports was the assertion that Rossi was ready to quit before the end of the season, something which the contracts drawn up by sponsor Phillip Morris' lawyers would make excruciatingly expensive.

But even talk of leasing a Yamaha satellite machine seems beyond the bounds of reason. Yamaha has a contract with Herve Poncharal's Tech 3 team to lease two satellite bikes to the team. Yamaha has repeatedly made it clear that they believe that four bikes - two factory and two satellite - is the maximum they can support in MotoGP, with the extra staff and expense not being covered by the leasing fees paid by the satellite teams. Adding an extra bike for Rossi, while not impossible, would be so expensive that finding a sponsor willing to pay may prove too expensive even for a figure as popular as Rossi. A return to the factory team is even more unrealistic: Rossi and Yamaha did not part on perfectly amicable terms, and though Rossi would undoubtedly bring sponsorship to Yamaha, he would also bring a much heavier workload, as he did when he was with the team between 2004 and 2010.

In an interview with TV commentator and journalist for Spanish sports daily Mela Chercoles, Yamaha's Managing Director Lin Jarvis was decidedly cautious about a return to Yamaha by the Italian. Asked if Rossi's return to Yamaha was an interesting possibility, Jarvis replied "It is, but mainly for the press." Jarvis denied that Rossi figured in his plans, saying "I have not given any thought to him with respect to next year." Asked whether he would consider a return, Jarvis replied "I have not closed the door, but it's not a very realistic situation."

A return to Honda is even more improbable. Speaking to, HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto ruled out a return to the factory team, saying that "Honda has two good riders in the Repsol team, so there is no chance for him to come back there." The only option for a return to Honda would be with a satellite team, Nakamoto said, as the satellite teams themselves decide the line up.

The other piece of improbable news comes from inside the Repsol Honda camp. According to the normally reliable Spanish magazine Solomoto, Casey Stoner is considering retirement at the end of the 2012 season. According to Solomoto, the reigning World Champion is said to be tired of the itinerant lifestyle forced upon him by the MotoGP season, away from home for long periods of the year, and with only a few short months a year back in Australia. The arrival of his baby daughter Alessandra is said to have been the deciding factor, with Stoner preferring to head back to Australia to help run the family farm. His passion for racing would be sated by taking part in the Australian V8 Supercar series, of which he is known to be a fan.

Other sources deny Stoner's retirement plans, believing that the confusion is arising over the current contract negotiations between Stoner's father and manager Colin and HRC. Honda wants to sign Stoner to a two-year contract, while Stoner is keen to negotiate a one-year deal, giving him options to extend or retire at the end of 2013. Stoner is known to be a bitter opponent of the rule changes proposed by Dorna, fearing that the MotoGP bikes will cease to be something special. For this reason, he has often commented, he has no interest in racing in World Superbikes; it is the unique and special nature of the MotoGP machines that attracts him to them. But with the rule changes likely to be limited to a rev limit for 2014, no real changes to the bikes are expected for 2013, and so Stoner will have no technical reason to retire.

Both HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto and HRC marketing director - and Stoner's close confidant - Livio Suppo have told that negotiations are already underway with Stoner for 2013. Nakamoto has informed Stoner of how much they can afford to pay, and the Australian is currently considering his options. Should Stoner either retire or go elsewhere, Suppo said, Honda would be forced to make a play for Jorge Lorenzo. But Lorenzo's first priority is to extend the deal with Yamaha, with talks already underway on a contract extension.

When speaking to the press, Stoner does not give the impression he has the slightest intention of retiring. If anything, the Australian is more relaxed and more comfortable with his situation than he was in 2011. Stoner's competitive streak still burns fiercely inside him, and so to retire now would be a very difficult decision. It seems far more likely that his intentions are being misinterpreted, rather than that he actually wishes to retire.

We shall find out the truth - insofar as riders and teams ever tell the media the truth - of the situation on Thursday. Stoner is slated to appear at the Estoril pre-event press conference. The chances of Stoner not being asked a question about the retirement rumors are absolutely zero. The Australian will either answer directly, or he will refrain from comment. The latter option, if anything, would make the situation worse, as it would be a tacit acknowledgement that it is something he is considering.

We are not yet three races in to the 2012 MotoGP season, and already, Silly Season is in full swing. Hopefully, it will stop being quite so silly from here on in.

Back to top


Does anyone know if Bradley Smith's move to Tech 3 in MotoGP is an absolute certainty, i mean, there is talk of a contract having been signed but if i was Herve and Dovi and Cal on their current form were still available why would he take such a risk? I mean even if we didn't see a return to form from Spies this year i'm sure Herve would have him slot back into the team beside either Dovi or Cal. I Guess what i'm trying to say is that there really is no room for Rossi at Yamaha as for Dovi or Cal to take Ben's Place would be more likely. Repsol's doors seem firmly closed and so they should be, a struggling Rossi is not the future, Marc Marquez or Stefan Bradl offer a greater investment in the long run. I Guess Gresini could take Rossi but it would have to be with full factory support and i don't know what the logistics and politics behind such a move would be, particularly as its still a Honda.... Ultimately if Rossi really has had enough by the end of the year we could see some strings pulled by Dorna to get him a ride somewhere, Rossi is their cash cow and giving him a couple more years on 'competitive' machinery would keep the viewing numbers up and give Rossi a more dignified send off........

If a few other manufacturers begin to enter/re-enter the folds of MotoGP next season (i.e. Aprilia, BMW, Kawasaki, Suzuki) that could make for some interesting changes. Aprilia are using the ART team as a testing ground before jumping in fully as a factory team; BMW has stated that after they meet goals in WSBK they would be exploring other avenues (an obvious hint to MotoGP); Suzuki has said they plan to come back, Kawasaki...

Obviously Rossi wants more than anything to be on a podium finishing bike, where ever that may be, Honda, Yamaha, etc. I don't think Rossi's desire to win has been diminished, maybe only his realization that it is going to be pretty difficult at Ducati, we all hope that they can get it sorted sometime this season. Not much talk has been given to the devastating event last season with Marco Simoncelli, while I would bet that Rossi's main goal to win would be to dedicate the victory to his great friend Marco, that event could be weighing on him. All riders know the risks but that was especially close to home for him, and considering he and Edwards were involved in it.

Stoner has stated that he doesn't intend to surpass Doohan's records, so we know that he doesn't intent to stay racing for too much longer. Doohan had 5 consecutive titles and 54 total victories in his carrer. Stoner currently has 2 titles and 34 victories, another 3 titles may be difficult with the competition currently and in the near future. While 20 race wins maybe attainable in 2-3 seasons. While I wouldn't rule it out, both he and Lorenzo are on top form and both the Honda and Yamaha are looking very close to equals at the moment.

I've been a fan of Rossi over the years and I appreciate all riders' skill level, I'd like to see Rossi have a few more years battling with the likes of Stoner, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Spies, Hayden, Dovi, and the other up and comers. At the end of the day we like exciting racing and when the possibilities are limited we tend to get bored.

I think Suzuki said they will return in 2014, not next year. Kawasaki have no plans to come back? BMW hinted at MotoGP once they start winning races in WSBK but can't see them jumping in and being competative from the off. Aprillia, who knows what they are up to.... Long and short of it is Honda and Yamaha will be the championship winning bikes for the next few years at least.

Being optimistic we can guess that by 2014 we'll see: Suzuki back, presumably happy with the idea of an rpm limit. BMW involved, supplying a prototype engine to the Suter chassis that's being developed around the Bridgestones right now. ART providing better CRT bikes, or even coming out with a prototype engine as long as the 2013 chassis is substantially better.

Pessimistically? No one makes any new prototype engines, Ducati Corse leaves to focus on WSBK after another garbage season in 2013, Honda & Yamaha win all the races for the next few years (then again Stoner alone stopped this from happening in the 800 era).

Hey all,
I'm almost certain most of my fellow Rossi/Racing fans have already viewed this bit on youtube that consists of an interesting conversation between Rossi and the "Godfather of the M1", Masao Furusawa at the end of Vale's tenure at Yamaha.
I hope the "back door" comment rings true. Check it out below... (8:20) mark till the end for you impatient ones!


Ok, I'll bite on the possiblity of Stoner looking at Australian V8 if it has anything like the draw or cash flow of American NASCAR. I've never read for sure, but it has always appeared that Stoner's salary was never near that of Rossi or Lorenzo. If Stoner is very popular at home AND he has a kid (cars are safer) AND the pay is better AND they only race in Australia...there is some light there.

I did only cop to the possibilty. Very doubtful seeing that Casey is still young and readily handing everyone their arse on the track.

I think you will find that Stoner is VERY well paid. It is my understanding that Stoner has always been on a lucrative win bonus style of contract and considering his win rate I would not be surprised to hear that he earns more than Lorenzo.

Also Stoner would earn more in one race weekend that a top V8 driver would earn in a year. The salaries are in different worlds.

was the last Aussie world champ to consider a life thereafter in V8... and what happened to that? Not much.

Is Marquez contractually obligated to ride whatever bike Repsol tell him to? What if, for example, Honda do manage to steal Lorenzo from underneath Yamaha's nose? I'm sure that Yamaha will be very intrigued by Marc's potential.

Also, I definitely wouldn't be surprised to see Stoner leaving after 2013, especially if his body continues to break down - arm pump, back problems, etc.

The only thing you can be sure of is that nobody is going to tell the truth about who they're actually courting. Take Lin Jarvis for example, if he says he'd like to have Rossi at Yamaha then that have other prospects looking that much earlier and harder elsewhere.

It's like the weather, and what David said... The earlier you try to predict it, the less accurate it will be

Totally agree Sam there are simply too many variables, as the yam improves will caseys very physical style cause similar probs to 2008 when the yam improve. Will Jorge finish with a paltry 3 wins and 100 other questions. The only truth is that anyone with any ambition won't want be on a Ducati,and of course that's only if presiozi continues to believe he knows better than the rider what he wants. This years standings will play a huge part. Maybe casey really is worried about arm pump they haven't raced in typical ''grippy' conditions yet. ?? And it's seems clear already that without the ap the Yamaha just loses too much ground on corner exit.(thanks to their our engineers no doubt). Gonna be interesting and I don't doubt for s second that the losing manufacturer won't run Rossi in a satellite(ala 2001?) as their joker in the pack. Though without question I'd like to see presiozi eat alittle humble pie first he's been serving it up to every rider that's had the misfortune to ride for him. Ps. The dani to Ducati has to be a joke the bikes way to unwieldy for the pocket rocket. Besides he's not close enough to rossis and stoners level.

Did you see the aerial shot of the 2nd last lap in Jerez? There was perhaps 10 seconds of footage that showed Stoner and Lorenzo going around a tight-ish right hander. Stoner went in really quick, I thought he had outbraked himself as he ran wide mid corner. He then made a tight turn and fired it out, clipping the inside curb on the way.
Jorge was in the same shot and took a more 250 line, he was hugging the curb all the way around keeping his corner speed quite high.
I've never seen such an obvious example of their different styles. Stoner's allowed him to get on the gas harder, earlier and maintain the advantage, pulling away all down the following straight.
Most of the ground lost on corner exit to the Honda is due to either Stoner's Doohanesque cornering style or Dani's Cheeze-Doodlesque weight.
The Yam aint so slow any more

Having grown up in country Australia and having the privilege of racing against a total "freak" dirt bike rider as a kid, I am going to put forward a Stoner scenario.

He wants a 1 year contract because he's scared of getting bored.

Because he has no interest in statistics(i.e. how many championships or races he's won), this is what will make him leave...

1 - if the bikes are "dumbed down" to much, ....if there is no challenge in riding the bikes to their limit then he will move on.

2 - If there is no competition, .....if Lorenzo or Pedrosa stop racing because of injury or some other reason AND there is no one else to challenge him at the front then he will move on.

To be honest, they way things are shaping up as far as the technical rules are concerned, 2014 might be the last year we see him ride.

To be fair to Casey, which isn't very often from my point of view..haha, if he wins the title this year he has nothing left to prove.

He'll have made Rossis efforts at Ducati look silly, team mate Dani Pedrosa appear a joke and Repsols influence apparent in him keeping his ride for so long. Lorenzo, already outed as having an easy ride in 2010 and smashed last year, would have been beaten two years on the trot..and in all probability and maybe most satisfying, the Red bikes last win would still have his name on it two years down the line. A three time champ on two different marques straddling two capacities at barely 27 yrs of age.

Who would blame him for wanting to see his little girl, and hopefully a younger son, grow to primary school attendance age?
He could take the time off, get his speed kicks locally and still come back and race at an age younger than Rossi is now.

That would be something else..almost Hailwoodesque and the stuff that true legends are made of.

I'd miss him desperately from a barracking perspective but would understand totally, wishing him hapiness..awaiting his return with anticipation.

"They can appreciate his determination to accept new challenges"
He had all the challenges he needed at Yamaha. He could have stayed & faced Lorenzo on equal machinery.

Rossi did, a couple times and hammered him.if Casey doing it twice in a career is enough surely Rossi doing it twice in 2 seasons to Jorge when he already done the title to death was enough. Even jorge isn't daft enough to think he went toe to toe with Rossi and came out on top(said so in interview). Rossi didn't leave because the 100 point gap to JL the season before wasn't big enough, yam were skint and worried Rossi was leaving with furasawa. Last year was yamahas worst since 2003 in race wins.

Lorenzo would love to have Rossi back at Yamaha so he can finish the business he started in 2010, and silence the knockers who say he only won the championship because Rossi was injured. Rossi beating Lorenzo a couple of times toward the end of 2010 was of no consequence whatever. Lorenzo needed to concentrate on wrapping up the championship, not get involved in nonsense with Rossi, who had nothing to lose. Lorenzo put Rossi firmly in his place at the final round in Valencia, after the title was wrapped up.

But Yamaha's problem is not Lorenzo or Rossi, it's Stoner on the Honda. As long as Stoner is fit and in dominant form, and the Honda is working well, the last thing Yamaha needs is Lorenzo and Rossi scrapping and taking points off each other (assuming that Rossi is still capable of scrapping with Lorenzo, which is a big question mark). What made the difference to Yamaha's fortunes in 2011 was not Yamaha losing ground after Rossi left, despite what some people want to believe, but Stoner joining Honda. Without Stoner on the Honda Lorenzo would have comfortably won the championship.

I'll never forget at motegi in 2010 how Jorge simply let Rossi by and settled for the 4th place. I't was undeniable that the only thing in Jorge's mind was the championship points.

No, Lorenzo getting involved in scrap with Rossi at Motegi was foolish and unnecessary. The championship was far too important to risk in unnecessary faring banging with his team mate. But it is clear that Lorenzo expected Rossi to be a good team mate and let Lorenzo have the points. Rossi obviously had different ideas. At Sepang Lorenzo did the sensible thing and let Rossi go. Then, at Valencia, once the championship was decided, he went out and won the race, with Rossi a long way behind.

There's no credibility to any argument that Lorenzo took 2010 by default. Everyone gives him props for it. Stoner did, Dani did, and even Rossi did. Someone slinging darts at him from the internet is what's of no consequence. Speaking of slinging missiles you wouldn't happen to have a well used dartboard with Rossi's likeness on it would you?

You are simply wrong about everyone giving Lorenzo props for 2010. There are plenty of people still saying that Lorenzo won 2010 by default because Rossi was injured. They are probably mostly Rossi fans but still, Lorenzo himself has given credence to the idea in recent interviews, and this has been taken up by some Rossi fans to support their idea that Lorenzo won 2010 by default.

And who is slinging darts at Rossi? Certainly not me. If you think I am slinging darts at Rossi you should read my post more carefully, along with the post I was responding to, to get the context. It's not the first time time you have misread and misunderstood what I said. I was responding to the views of a previous poster, not attacking Rossi.

I have been concerned now for a couple of seasons of Casey's retirement. Watching him race is the most enjoyment I have had from Motogp for over 25 years. I can watch him post laps on his own for hours. From a V8 supercar perspective he is connected with the Vodefone team (Craig Lowndes and Jamie Wincup) He drove 90 laps in CL's car post last year's championship and given they are the No.1 team that is probably where he will want to end up after Motogp. Fortunately for motorcycle purists both CL and JW resigned with the 888 team (vodefone) for 3 years including current. That suggests to me Casey will be racing in motogp for two more years after this one. Perhaps we will only get one if the rules change so much that the bikes become less attractive to him. There is a good chance that Rossi will outlast Stoner in Motogp. To all Motogp careful what you wish for.

Hi Dave, could you clarify what you mean by saying Rossi would bring an extra workload to Yamaha? Do you mean in terms of the press they'd have to handle and minders etc or in terms of the technical demands he'd make?

One observation regarding Rossi in a new satellite team on a Yamaha: Most likely there will be a single bike rule from 2013. This could free up at least production resources for Yamaha to run a 5:th bike. Service personell and other overhead for an additional team is still present though.

I think you'll see that the one bike rule simply results in the second bike still being available, but maintained in sub assemblies that can be bolted together quickly if required.

There's nothing stopping them from having a complete 2nd bike sans engine (only because of allocation concerns) sitting in the trailer. The rule is that Dorna will only give one bike a tech sticker. If bike 1 is wrecked they will bolt an engine in the 2nd 'bike' and then have it tech'ed.

What the rule will mainly result in is less riders out on the track during practice sessions as pit time will increase because the tuning changes will take longer than just swapping bikes. Also, less setup options will be able to be tested, something that will hurt the CRTs more than the factory bikes.


I suspect a likely scenario that I'm yet to see brought up is Rossi funding his own team with Uccio as the manager. Uccio cut his teeth in Moto2 last year and Valentino can definitely find the sponsors to purchase a bike from any of the manufacturers.

Despite a rumoured frosty relationship between Rossi and Honda, for Honda there is still massive value in having him ride for them. The suits upstairs would look at the marketing potential of having him on their bike promoting their products. Equally Yamaha would be keenly interested, how many Rossi fan boys do you know who ride R1's or R6's.

For Stoner, this is where he can command the highest income. According to "Australian BRW Top Sports Earners List" he comes in number second with $9.5m, ahead of Mark Webber and Chad Reed. So if he wants to, he can easily afford to kick back and retire.

I really hope not. It is understandable. He has always said he has a life outside of Motogp. For him that is more a priority. But I just do not see retiring yet. Maybe a couple more years.

Who knows with Rossi. No one will admit if they are in talks with him. But I could bet some team is. After watching Nicky Hayden's inspired ride on the Ducati with Rossi having a harder time than him. I do not know. Rossi as always creates alot to talk about.

Great post David, always a joy to read and speculate.

I've been following m/c racing since the late 60's, and as someone posted above, I will watch Casey ride laps for the pure enjoyment/pleasure/wonderment of watching him push the bike. His body movement on the bike is simply poetry! I enjoy watching Jorge, Rossi, Cal, and the rest of the GP grid, but, quite simply, Casey is 'different' on the bike! I'm hoping that he sticks around for another 2 yrs so that we can see history unfold in front of us. How many on this forum were lucky enough (old enough?) to watch Kenny take his speed to Europe and change the face of m/c racing? How many on this forum watched Spencer vs Lawson in AMA Superbike before taking it to Europe and then followed him in GP's? Stoner's speed is semi-legendary now (remember, he out qualed 2nd place in last years last race by OVER 1 SEC!!!).....25 yrs from now he will be a legend!

Lorenzo and Yamaha will thrash out and announce a two year deal soon. The rest will all then fall into place. Stoner may be the hold out until Brno.

Stoner has been labelled a moaner,but never a demander. He's not a 'Mr I' person rather a 'we' person encompassing the team,his family and all.
He has unshakeable integrity,so I guess he will make a balanced consideration,taking his personal life,his aspirations and his employer into account. But, I don't expect it to be unravelled prior to traditional mid season silly season,but I take your point. If the next few races prior to Brno put him in the pounds seats,he will undoubtedly be in a position to hold a gun to HRC's heads. I reiterate, its not his nature to go down that road. Never has been and never will be. Thats why his old man manages that side of his illustrious GP career.