The Comprehensive MotoGP Silly Season Update: How Things Stand For Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Suzuki, Kalex, And Even Moto3

The current status of MotoGP's silly season? Two down, plenty still to go. Valentino Rossi may have joined Marc Marquez as the only other factory rider to have put pen to paper for 2015 and 2016, the rest of the grid is still in the middle of negotiating their riders for next year. Even Cal Crutchlow, who has a contract to race with Ducati in 2015, but more of that later.

Who will join Rossi at Movistar Yamaha and Marquez at Repsol Honda? Most likely, the two men who are already there. It is hard to see either Dani Pedrosa or Jorge Lorenzo jumping ship to ride anywhere else. Though HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto flirted with Lorenzo late last year, he understands that it would be terrible team politics to upset his number one rider, and the man who is likely to bring a fleet of titles to Honda over the next few season.

What HRC needs is a reliable number two rider, and Pedrosa has proven to be perfect in that role. Fast enough to win races of his own accord, and a solid force in the team, not the kind of character to kick up a fuss. He has six podiums this year, as well as a pole position, and can win should Marquez falter. Spanish media are reporting that Pedrosa is close to wrapping up a contract with the Repsol Honda team, with talks having gone at Assen. The new contract would mean less salary for Pedrosa, but at least at Honda, he has a chance of winning races. Big money offers from Ducati and Suzuki are much more of a gamble, with neither bike yet having proven capable of winning.

If Pedrosa's contract renewal can be expected in the next few weeks, a new deal for Jorge Lorenzo is still some way off. In an interview published in the paper version of the Spanish magazine Solo Moto, Lorenzo said the differences between himself and Yamaha were about money. The world champion of 2010 and 2012 would like to stay with Yamaha, but will want to at least keep his current salary, or even improve it. He will not manage that on the basis of his current results, the Spaniard having struggled badly for most of the season. Two podiums from eight races – the same number as Andrea Dovizioso on the Ducati – is not what is expected from Lorenzo, nor what he expects of himself.

The other bone of contention between Yamaha and Lorenzo is contract duration. Both parties are happy to sign up for two more years, but Lorenzo is pushing to have an option to leave after a year. Lorenzo has been dismayed at the difference the new Bridgestone tires and the reduction of fuel to 20 liters has made, making the Yamaha a much more difficult bike for him to ride. He would like to be able to get out early, if Yamaha can't improve the bike sufficiently next season. Yamaha, however, want to him to remain for two full years.

Lorenzo is rumored to have a big money offer from Ducati, but it is almost unthinkable he will join the Bologna factory in 2015. The Spaniard is still determined to win a few more titles, and at the moment, the Desmosedici is not capable of performing at that level. So Lorenzo looks destined to stay at Yamaha. Yamaha would be very happy to keep him, despite his poor results. Conversations I had with Yamaha staff suggested that although they are still a long way from confirming a deal with the Spaniard, they have never considered replacing him. Naturally, the factory has an eye on upcoming talent – Maverick Viñales, Jack Miller and Alex Rins are all riders who Yamaha are believed to be watching with interest – but those are riders for the future, joining at the back of the queue behind Pol Espargaro, and possibly his brother Aleix.

The rider line up at Ducati could also remain unchanged, with Ducati keen to sign Andrea Dovizioso to a new deal, while Cal Crutchlow is in the first year of a two-season deal, though the Englishman has an option to leave a year early. Both Dovizioso and Crutchlow have their eyes on Suzuki, but a switch to the XRH-1 is a big risk. The bike has not impressed in the hands of Randy De Puniet, though as the Frenchman is not racing any longer, it his hard to judge his real pace. More worrying is the pace of development. Though Suzuki brought a new engine and new chassis to test at Barcelona, they have only recently completed the process of porting their software over to the mandatory Magneti Marelli ECU. Though it is a complex undertaking, both HRC and Yamaha managed the switch in a couple of months, and had a fully functional ECU software suite ready to be competitive from the start of the season. Suzuki took many months to get the Marelli ECU up and running, but even now, it is still under intense development. Such an approach points to a lack of resources going into the project in Hamamatsu, a problem which has hampered Suzuki's MotoGP efforts for a long time, perhaps since the early '90s.

Staying at Ducati is also a risk. Though the Desmosedici GP14 is a clear step forward from last year's bike, it still suffers from chronic understeer and poor ergonomics. At Assen, Cal Crutchlow was complaining that he cannot position himself correctly on the bike. 'My position on the bike is wrong, but there is nothing we can do,' Crutchlow told reporters. 'I can't ask them to come up with what I want to be able to change my position on the bike. You can't do it at the minute, and that's that.' This is a familiar complaint, Valentino Rossi complaining of a similar problem throughout his two years at Ducati.

The 2015 bike should be much better, being a machine designed almost from scratch by Gigi Dall'Igna. The bike, Dall'Igna told the Corriere dello Sport, would feature a 90° V4 engine which was physically smaller than the current unit, allowing the bike to be set up more easily. The current engine is still broadly similar in design to the unit which functioned as a stressed member of the chassis in the old frameless design. It is large, long, and heavy. Having been fortunate enough to see both the Yamaha M1 engine, and the Honda RCV1000R engine (which is very similar to the RC213V engine), the Desmosedici power plant is much larger. The Yamaha and Honda units are tiny, for 1000cc engines, clearly lighter, shorter, and more compact.

That bike will not be ready until the Valencia test at the earliest, however. Dovizioso and Crutchlow will be forced to gamble that Dall'Igna can deliver a much better bike than the current GP14. The omens are good, but it requires a leap of faith. Both men have already taken exactly such a leap when they moved to Ducati, and what they found when they arrived shattered their illusions. In previous years, promises that things will be different this time have tended to be broken. From the outside, the situation looks totally different this time. But that is easy to say from the safety of a computer keyboard, the reality in the Ducati garage may well be different.

If the rumors are to be believed, Andrea Dovizioso is edging closer to a new two-year deal with Ducati, having seen the changes which Dall'Igna has already made. Ducati is very happy with the Italian, Dovizioso posting strong results so far this year on the GP14, when conditions help his case. He has halved his distance to the leaders this season, and his demeanor has taken a major leap forward. Last year, it was a dejected and resigned Andrea Dovizioso who spoke to the media. This season, Dovizioso has been almost perky.

The opposite is the case with Cal Crutchlow. When the Englishman speaks at media debriefs, we journalists have flashbacks to seeing Andrea Dovizioso last year. His body language is slumped and defensive, a change from the edgy, aggressive positivity of 2013. His attitude is rumored not to have endeared him to Ducati management, who are said to be mulling over buying Crutchlow out of his contract. Crutchlow himself has an option to leave the factory at the end of this year, but he must make his decision by the end of this month.

Crutchlow's options are limited, however. He cannot return to Yamaha, his relationship with Yamaha management strained at the best of times. There is no room for him at Honda, unless it be on a satellite bike. Lucio Cecchinello is keen to keep Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda, despite increasing pressure from HRC, who are disappointed in the German's results. That leaves Alvaro Bautista's slot at Gresini Honda, but they already have a British rider in Scott Redding, and Redding has a shot at the RC213V if Bautista leaves. Crutchlow would also be forced to race with Showa suspension and Nissin brakes, who have partnered the Gresini team for some time. Both Showa and Nissin are very close to the performance levels of the Ohlins and Brembos, but with only Gresini and Redding using them, they remain fractionally behind.

That leaves only Suzuki, or biting his tongue and staying at Ducati. From the outside, the Ducati looks like the better bet: better funded, with more staff and development going into the bike. But confidence and belief play a large part in racing, and Crutchlow may feel he needs to jump to Suzuki merely to preserve his sanity.

Crutchlow faces plenty of competition for the Suzuki slot, however. The factory is still talking to Dovizioso, despite the Italian's thinking moving increasingly towards Ducati. The other Ducati Andrea – Iannone – is also in Suzuki's sights, as is Aleix Espargaro, who has excelled on the Forward Yamaha. Aleix' problem is that he comes with a debt of several hundred thousand euros, which was needed to buy himself out of another year at Aspar. The NGM Forward team funded Espargaro's exit from Aspar, under condition that if he leaves the team before his contract is up, he must pay Forward what Forward paid Aspar.

Both Iannone and Espargaro have other options as well. Ducati are keen to keep Iannone at the Italian factory, but the youngster is keen to land a factory ride. If Crutchlow departs for Suzuki, Iannone will move up to the factory team alongside Dovizioso, but if Crutchlow stays, Ducati will have a hard time keeping Iannone from departing for Suzuki himself. If he stays at Pramac, Ducati will surely increase their support for him there.

As for Aleix Espargaro, his performance on the Forward Yamaha M1 – basically, a late 2013 model M1 – has impressed almost everyone. He has another year on his contract at Forward, but Aspar is keen to have him back, and with Honda replacing the RCV1000R's rather anemic engine with what is basically a full-fat RC213V engine with pneumatic valves, but no seamless gearbox, the production Honda should be a good deal more competitive next year. He is also very high on the list of candidates for Suzuki, and as a young, fast rider would make an ideal signing for the brand.

At Assen, there were also rumors that Aleix could take the second slot at Tech 3, turning the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team into a family affair. Giovanni Cuzari seemed to spend all of his time in the Tech 3 hospitality, and was spotted in talks with Herve Poncharal several times during the weekend. Yamaha is known to be very keen on Aleix, and the pairing of Aleix and Pol in Tech 3 would make for excellent publicity. My French friends were convinced that Aleix will be replacing Bradley Smith next year.

When I asked Poncharal for his plans for 2015, he was adamant that the only MotoGP rider he was interested in was Bradley Smith. 'I have no interest whatsoever in any current MotoGP riders,' Poncharal insisted. Smith remained a candidate, who was doing much better than many fans gave him credit for. Smith was fast in practice, and even fast in the race, though his outright results were disappointing. Putting together a race all the way to the finish remained a problem for Smith, and the Oxfordshire rider needed to remedy that if he was to remain at Tech 3. Smith acknowledged the problem. 'I wouldn't hire me with my results,' he said candidly. But Smith also pointed to his strengths: in the ranking of fastest individual race laps, Smith was third fastest.

Poncharal said he was looking for a replacement in the junior classes. He was talking to 'the top five in Moto2', he said. That is a phrase used by most team managers in MotoGP, however, just as the team managers in Moto2 will tell you they are looking at 'the top five in Moto3'. What was more interesting is that he suggested he could be looking to recruit a rider directly from Moto3. It would be a step 'into the wild' as Poncharal phrased it. It would be more interesting to take a gamble on a rider from Moto3 than to keep following existing paths.

This was an interesting statement, given the current rumors surrounding Moto3 championship leader Jack Miller. The Australian has hinted at a move straight to MotoGP, skipping Moto2 altogether. Usually, though, Miller's name has been linked to a satellite Honda ride, with LCR Honda a strong candidate. Yamaha, too, have expressed an interest in Miller, but having him move directly to MotoGP would be very risky. It would certainly please Dorna, as it would make selling TV rights in Australia much easier for the Spanish rights holder.

Realistically, however, Miller looks more likely to step up to Moto2 next season. Who that is with remains a question mark. Miller was insistent that he is free to race wherever he wants next year, a suggestion backed up by his team manager – and his personal manager – Aki Ajo. Marc VDS boss Michael Bartholémy contests that, however. According to Bartholémy, he still has a contract with Miller for 2015 and 2016. Ajo and Miller say this is just a pre-contract, which is not binding on the Australian. Bartholémy insists that although the contract does not completely specify all of the details a normal rider contract contains, the only things missing are relatively trivial items such as team clothing and personal sponsorship details. The contract still obliges Miller to race for Marc VDS for the next two seasons, unless Miller buys his way out. This is a situation which needs to be resolved soon.

There have been persistent rumors that both Marc VDS and the Pons team are ready to step up to MotoGP. Their partner would be Kalex, who would build chassis for leased Yamaha engines, along the lines of Forward Racing. I spoke to Kalex co-owner Alex Baumgaertel at Assen, and he said he was waiting for confirmation from the two top Moto2 teams, which he expected at that race. The paperwork with Yamaha – a non-disclosure agreement, similar to that signed between FTR and Yamaha – was just about finished, and he was ready to start work on designing a chassis.

No decision had been made by the time MotoGP left Assen, but with the paperwork done, Kalex can make progress without a direct commitment from a team. Though both Marc VDS and Pons are strong enough teams to race in MotoGP, it makes more sense for them to wait for 2016 than move up next year. With Michelin set to replace Bridgestone in 2016, and spec ECU software to be made mandatory, it gives any teams entering the class a chance to see the results of tire testing, and judge the best horse to bet on should they make a move. It would also give Kalex an extra year to work on a chassis.

Kalex will have more time next season anyway. KTM have pulled the plug on their Moto3 collaboration with Kalex, meaning that there will be no Kalex KTMs in Moto3 in 2015. This is a major problem for teams currently racing a Kalex KTM, as they will have to switch manufacturers. The cost of upgrading material for a new season was around 100,000 euros per rider, RW Racing GP team boss Jarno Janssen told the Dutch magazine MOTOR. A switch to either KTM or Mahindra would cost 250,000 euros per rider, causing a huge burden on the teams. Choosing Honda was even more expensive: the cost of a Honda NSF250RW was 400,000 euros a season, Janssen said. The attempts at controlling costs in Moto3 have clearly not been as successful as hoped. The engine may be price-capped at 12,000 euros, the rest of the support is still being sold at full price. The one area where the class has been improved is that the engines have been equalized. Now, more teams have a chance of success. Under the old regime, Aprilia decided who would be racing with full factory material, and who would be racing with less powerful bikes. The difference was much greater between the two then than it is now.

In Moto3, the top of the championship look set to move up to Moto2. The two Alexes – Rins and Marquez – both look set for Moto2, though Marquez may stay on for another season if he does not win the championship this year. Rins is in great demand, and could join Marc VDS if Miller goes elsewhere. Romano Fenati is another hot ticket, with many teams expressing an interest. For both Fenati and Alex Marquez is whether their teams will move up to Moto2 with them. For Monlau – the structure behind the Estrella Galicia team – moving up to Moto2 should be simple, as they have previously done the same for Alex' older brother Marc. For the Team Sky VR46 team, it is another question altogether. It is the team's first year in Grand Prix, and despite the outstanding results for both Fenati and his young teammate Pecco Bagnaia, expanding into Moto2 could be a step too far in just their second year.

Expansion is also on the cards in MotoGP. As reported here earlier, LCR Honda is looking to expand to a two-bike team for 2015, adding a second production Honda to race alongside the factory RC213V. The expansion has been made possible by the new sponsorship deal secured with CWM World. Adding a production Honda will not be simple, however. Unless one of the existing teams makes their bike available, LCR will be forced to pay the full price – nearer 3 million euros than the 1 million paid by Aspar, Gresini and Cardion AB – for the bike. Realistically, the only team considering a withdrawal is the Cardion AB team, but even that seems extremely unlikely.

Riders, managers and teams have a lot of work ahead of them. Contracts should be largely settled by the end of the summer break, with Indianapolis being a favorite slot for announcing future plans. At the moment all is up in the air. But in a month's time, the situation should be a good deal clearer.

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I have been looking for this for some months wondering when you'll give us the run down... Thx. for the up date. My only wish would have been is to hear that JL would be going to Honda but it is what it is. Can't say I blame him for the one year out option tho.

Given the fact that Karel Abraham is only circulating in the MotoGP class thanks to his father's money and not particularly due to talent, it maybe wise for Honda to move his bike to LCR. I read on MCN that because of Aprilia wanting to spend one year testing their upcoming MotoGP motorcycle on the MotoGP grid rather than away from it in preparation for the 2016 entry, they may advance their entry by one year to 2015 by buying out the Ioda team. Can't remember where, but I also read that Aspar may also be considered for the development of the Aprilia MotoGP motorcycle with full factory support but still branded as ART so that Aprilia will not lose face during the developmental phase. If that happens then Aspar's two Honda's will become available making it possible for either Marc VDS or Pons to move upto MotoGP with Honda customer machines. Karel Abraham is also supposedly speculating a move to the factory ART with an eye on getting a factory level Aprilia from 2016 on.

But all this is mere speculation and some of the stories that I have pointed out may have been productions of idle minds that fantasize about all things MotoGP. Another story that I have heard from one of the part owners of Mahi Racing Kawasaki is that with the exception of Kawasaki and to a certain extent Ducati no other big factory is interested in running a proper WSBK operation due to the evo rules that will come into play. MV Agusta if it can cobble up money, EBR (they have no money problem thanks to Hero) and Bimota (if they can sell enough bikes) are the ones that could be left on the WSBK grid. Bimota maybe a non-starter because they don't seem to be getting anywhere near the required numbers and one incredulous rumour is that they will therefore switch to MotoGP with Alstare!!!! (I sincerely suggest that no one should take the Bimota rumour seriously). And any idea what will happen to PBM? One suggestion is that they could become the test team for Aprilia and another is that they are set to quit. Any light on these fantasies David? And Avintia, I do not even know how their motorcycle looks, so will they still be around making up the numbers?

There is an extra thing which could be a decisive factor.
Brno circuit has got less money from Czech government (1 mil instead of 1.45 mil Euro) and Dorna is asking for about 2.5 mil Euro for listing fee.
Every year is Brno circuit loosing about 1.5 mil Euro.
So they are donating the Grand prix.
This is a every-year story here in Czech rep. when Brno circuit is asking local and republic governments for paying the listing fee.
The Grand prix is way the biggest sport event in Czech rep. and when you count the income from taxes of all sold services and goods connected to Grand prix we got much more then the listing fee...
But why it is not so supported is another story.

So yesterday Brno circuit replied to this that this year´s race is the last one and that they are starting negotiations with Dorna to free them up from the contract for 2015.

It could solve one Honda production racer because without home GP, Karel Abraham will end his presence in MotoGP.

I read about that situation. I live close to the border with Czech Republic in Germany about 10 km away from Sachsenring. Same story here. We had several protests, petitions and what not because Dorna is asking for more money every year and the government is less and less willing to subsidize the race. The track management has been nearly bankrupt countless times.

However, losing the Czech Grand Prix would be a huge blow in my opinion. I love going there and I consider it to be one of the real legendary tracks (next to Assen and Mugello). On top, it is a remarkably beautiful venue with good view, riders love the track and it usually delivers great racing.

So, let's support the locals over there in their attempt to save the Czech Grand Prix:

to go to the Czech GP at Brno in '06, '07 & 2010. Great venue, a really nice city that seems to be transformed again every time you visit.

Would love to go back again and would be gutted if this fantastic race was lost to the calendar. :(

I am surprised that JL99 would seek an escape clause allowing him to become a free agent for 2016, which is the first year for the spec software and the Michelin tires. I can imagine circumstances where he might wish to exercise that clause if he had it, but those circumstances are really quite extreme. I'm guessing that clause disappears in negotiations between Lorenzo and Yamaha.

My wild guess on the Ducati front... Crutchlow to LCR Honda on a one-year deal, where his modest paycheck will be supplemented by a generous Ducati settlement as Gigi Dall'Igna shows Cal the exit door. I note that Cal arrived at Ducati several months before Gigi did. I predict Dall'Inga will act decisively to cut out what he perceives as a "bad apple." Then, Iannone to the factory team. And Bradl to Pramac. Dovi stays where he is, on a two-year deal.

Brave bold prediction Mr Lew my friend! :)
The context of Jorge's contract negot w Yamaha was SO different than now, how fast things change! He held all the cards, had made an AMAZING and heroic season on an out gunned bike, and had no equals. (I know you know this folks, humor me). He was demanding more bike from Yam, and a good pile of hams.

Now...interesting timing for a slump! Paradoxically, his mercurial temperament may grab onto this challenge and thrive again in a new way on a changed bike. The old ways are headed for the door re his riding style, that Bstone front tire of amazement, and the character of bikes in the series in general.

Not long ago we talked of the '250 riding style' - F end focus, wheels in line, corner speed carry, Jorge. LORDY how things have changed, and LORDY second derivative how they are ABOUT to change!

We are about to be hearing 'that Moto2 style' of those emulating Marquez. Curious Superbike riders may be thinking about their chances on the Michelin shod 2016 bikes as opposed to the Moto3 potential aliens.

I see people staying put more for next yr, except Cal who is on the fence. It may come down to TIMING and what is unfolding when he feels compelled to grab the open musical chair.

A. Espargaro to Factory Suzuki or Factory Aprilia (since no Yamaha ride for him) unless Tech 3 opens up. Herve's bikes are strong now, and when Open rules hit I would think it the best bike to be on in terms of improvement potential. But the yearning for a Factory seat is strong methinks, and it feels good to be WANTED and see a future for yourself w a factory.

Dani's seat sure seems 'the coveted prize' and this is unlikely to change regardless of any rule changes.

Ducati's TIMING re revolutionizing their bike is perfect. Hope they can get their hands on some Michelin MotoGP tire prototypes 'to help w developme nt' much as they got an early hand in championship electronics development. Synergy possibilities.

The factories need to put electronics development support in a stronger position for the Open/Prod teams. The one that does that well stands to gain a data acquisition advantage, and the bikes will benefit. This will bring the Jack Millers to your factory's "crop of riders." Ducati is doing a lot of things right at the moment. Cal could do worse than stay put. A couple strong Dovi-beating results is all that is needed.

Interesting times!

"A couple strong Dovi-beating results is all that is needed." you say. Unfortunately for Cal, thats never going to happen.
He and Dovi have been team mates on 2 teams and Dovi has clearly proven to be the better rider.

I'm sure Ducati would love to get rid of the under performing whinger and i doubt any other team would be willing to put up with his big mouth. There are too many better riders available to have to put up with his crap.

Howdy Bildo, how are things?

Nah, full Scottish blood (and we are no fans o the English) living in the U.S.

Last yr Cal beat Dovi 15 times. Dovi beat Cal 3 times. And the Tech 3 bikes were not identical as they are now, and Cal's was at times the lesser as I recall.

Another more qualitative and subjective thing is happening for me too. I enjoy Dovi, but he has been on the HRC bike and not been able to break out of the atmosphere up into alien status. I am not saying that I think Cal can, just frankly that this takes a rider down a notch in my interest level, they shift further out of the epicenter of my interest. I like Cal more than many riders out there! Good to see Dovi wringing some speed and results out of this Duc, no knocking that. I am cheering for the BIKE and Gigi more than anything right now.

the only thing that can be done with last year's results regarding Cal and Dovi is to flush them. To call their bikes unequal would be the understatement of the season.

Cal has guts and I admire that about him, but his willingness to show his teeth without anything more than a few podiums in MGP to his name is going to be his Achilles heel.

I think the biggest question I have is how on earth does Bautista not lose his seat this year?

G'day Moto, my missus is Scottish, living in Oz. It appears that you also enjoy a wee dram. : )

When Dovi and Cal rode for Tech 3 in 2012 Dovi finished the season in 4th place on 218pts, Cal finished 7th on 151.

I would like to see Crazy Joe get Cals perch.

Oops! Funny, I was meaning to look up the 2012 season results between Cal and Dovi, and did 2013. That'll teach me to post after a bunch o pints!

Agreed on Beautista.

Carry on!

There is only 1 person racing motorcycles today who might challenge MM...and not a mention?

I am of course, speaking of Tito Rabat. Everyone in MotoGP is either mentally beaten or out of their depth to challenge. If you compare MM's 2012 qualifying times & total race times at the tracks that he & TR have ridden this year...Rabat is faster...alot faster.

Yes, I know their are other variables (Suter/ conditions..blah, blah, blah) but how else can you compare potential?

If Marc VDS goes MotoGP & he goes with them it will be a waste of a year & at 25 he doesn't have one to waste. It makes no sense that Honda would not sign him so Yamaha doesn't or Yamaha because their current riders have less potential for improvement than Marquez does.

from one year to another is pointless. Tom Sykes is running faster laps than Ben Spies ran when he dominated the series.When they were on the same bike the same year, Sykes couldnt see Spies with binoculars.

Unwittingly, Brains (being ironic?) you have highlighted my point nicely.

Using your basis of comparison Sykes in 5 years has matured dramatically. At Misano & Assen (2 tracks he has raced in '09 & '14) Syke's Superpoles have improved 2.1 & 3.4 secs.

I'm sure you can counter with an equally silly statistic, but the point I was trying to make (over 2 years not 5) is that MM has NO competition from his current rivals (when rose-colored glasses are removed) & the only rider in site to "possibly" threaten his dominance is Rabat. For no other reason than he hasn't been thorougly humiliated over the last 2 years.

What Marquez is doing is forcing his rivals out of their comfort-zone, disrupting their natural rhythm. Rossi is after a lifetime changing his riding style, Lorenzo is scared! These are not the normal responses of multi-time World Champions..these are signs of desperation & defeat. If you do the "perfect lap" only to find you're .3 slower, & it happens week in-week're toast. Only new blood can change this.

"What Marquez is doing is forcing his rivals out of their comfort-zone, disrupting their natural rhythm. Rossi is after a lifetime changing his riding style, Lorenzo is scared! These are not the normal responses of multi-time World Champions.."

so, Rossi adapting his style to win again (after all, he and all other champions on the grid have to constantly change their styles due to competition and machines alike) and teaching himself to ride in a way that has him close to competing with MM is not the normal response of a Champion? And the last thing I would call Lorenzo is someone that "scares" easily.

Thinking that Tito is going to walk onto the grid riding a satellite at best and stare down Valentino, Jorge, Pedrosa and Marquez is wishfuly thinking. Sorry to sound rude, that is not the intent....

Why is it an act of desperation to try something different? Surely that's a sensible, rational response. The desperate thing to do is carry on as you were, hoping that next time it'll somehow work.

Lorenzo scared of Marquez? I don't think so. He's scared of doing himself a pointless, serious injury, having lost confidence in the bike. If he regains his confidence I'm sure he'll be giving Marquez a run for his money.

Anyone who has raced against someone who ALWAYS prevails makes you ride a certain way...

When you are ahead & your pit-board tells you THAT guy is coming, a certain sense of inevitability takes hold. You can either push harder..& perhaps make a mistake, or you just wait to you see his wheel & you know you're done. You can fight, but you just know there is nothing you can do & you loose the flow.

To JL & VR who have ALWAYS been THAT guy..Mr. Inevitable pass, now at least for Jorge (& Jorge & CS were for Rossi), probably the first time they have ever dealt with knowing they are up against a better rider.

To his credit Vale has (no doubt because he just loves racing) dealt with it rather well, Jorge not so much. JL is not riding well..PERIOD, & blaming the bike, tire, set-up is all just his ego. Deep down..he can't deal with someone who can beat him on his best day...Stoner couldn't but Marquez can! No he's not scared, he just saw that even in the rain, he had no chance.

I say again, Rabat isn't going to kick MM's butt (or JL's, VR's or even Dani's)..but he won't accept the inevitable outcome & THIS is why I believe he deserves a factory bike.

The year after Spies dominated WSBK, his lap times were being beaten on a regular basis by numerous riders. Bikes and tires advance on a yearly basis, sometime dramatically. Sykes hasnt transformed into a great rider, he is the best that dying series has to offer at the moment. This is the weakest and oldest WSBK grid i have seen maybe ever. Speaking of being long in the tooth, Rabat aint no spring chicken. He has been around the block a time or two and has been humiliated by Marquez on numerous occasions. Dude is a Moto2 lifer who may have stuck around long enough to find a field he can beat. He is not " new blood "

OK..lets leave old man Rabat in Moto2 & follow your implyed scenario...

Lorenzo & Pedrosa sign 2 year extensions.

The Espargaros, Redding, Smith, Maverick et. al are shut out of factory teams for 2015 & 16. What will MotoGP's look like then? Do you think VR, JL or DP will magically improve more than Marquez?

Does anyone think that 2015 & 2016 will not see Marquez win 15+ races & clinch those championships with 5 rounds to go? Remember the Doohan could turn off the race (or go buy hotdogs) after the 2nd corner if he wasn't taken out at the start.

Yes, it is a joy to watch MM do his magic, but MotoGP is a competition not an exhibition & when you know the outcome in advance something is lost. I much prefer an un-known possibility than a certain one.

If Marquez wins every race in the next 5 years, so be it, .The reality of the situation is, if one competitor has the ability to win every contest, you either sit back and enjoy while you wait for the next phenom who can steal the crown, or, you can sulk about how your entertainment value is not being met, what you prefer is irrelevant. Short of instituting rules that hinder specific riders, there really isnt much you can do about a competitor who has taken things to a new level, and surely as a fan, you would never go there. The best 4 riders on the planet are on the best 4 bikes in the world, replacing any of them with a rider the caliber of Rabat is for sure throwing up the white flag. The history of the sport shows numerous cycles of dominance, this one could be a little more intense, we will see.

Back in 2009, Sykes who was a nobody outside of BSB arrived in WSBK and has to learn a load of new tracks. Trouble was he couldn't do this in peace as his team mate was Spies and of course it wasn't long before people were looking across the other side of the garage to see what Spies team mate was doing.

Sykes nearly lost his Kawasaki ride but his dedication and bike development means he wins races. There are many other riders in WSBK who should be able to win a title eg Melandri, Guintoli but they are too inconsistent or keep changing bikes. There are no characters in WSBK anymore since Biaggi left. Yes there are washed up ex-Motogp riders boosting their pensions and a load of Brits who have outgrown BSB but are not good enough to win a championship in WSBK.

Is WSBK dying ? Perhaps. It needs some new blood eg Hayden and better tv coverage. There's no excitement in it.

Yeah, all that into consideration, next season and the following(s) will be more like NeuterBike, and less like Superbike... They may want to rename the series after this year is in the books..

Lorenzo almost won the championship last year, despite a run of bad luck, but removing 1 liter of fuel and the new tires seem to have bothered him - which makes sense, given his focus on max. apex speed. Pedrosa has inched very close to Marquez and Pedrosa is - let's be honest - likely no better than the 4th best rider on the grid. We know Marquez is better than Pedrosa, but that's about it (among the top 4).

Honda's bike, including software and sensors which can not be ignored, is obviously much more sophisticated, *forgiving* and better suited to the current Bridgestone tires. Pedrosa literally RAN INTO Marquez, for goodness sake, and they both finished (1 / 3, Catalunya). I think that Marquez's riding would perhaps not be so spectacular if he tried a different bike...or rather, he would spend more time in the hospital. As it is he's had a few close calls - but one thing that's obvious is that the Honda is not "nervous", at all. It's also got massively more pull out of corners, which allow a more conservative approach.

Idolizing the riders is one thing, but this idea that "Marquez" is so far in front of everybody else that his riding is causing them psychological problems doesn't wash. I'd say Rossi is bothering Lorenzo a lot more than Marquez, for what it's worth - Lorenzo thought he was faster appears he's not!

Unfortunately, we've entered the era of MotoGP - I suspect - where the sophistication in the electronics, sensors and probably matching the chassis to the tires in subtle ways not obvious to the public likely eclipses even significant differences in rider skill. And I suspect that Honda has the equivalent, although in some different form, of Jenson Button's "blown diffuser" in F1 a few years ago, or perhaps more accurately, Mercedes power unit from this year.

Marquez is great - he's easily as good as Rossi and Lorenzo probably - but he's flattered I think by HRC.

is Marquez has dominated on every style of bike GP has to offer. In 125's you had no electronic rider aids and the bike itself required inch perfect laps that rewards corner speed. In Moto2, again you have little to no rider aids and the bikes have just enough power to allow different riding styles to succeed, and he succeeded in dominant fashion Then you move on to GP, where it was common knowledge that to get the best results, you needed to have a wheels in line riding style with big corner speed, or as some put it, just let the electronics take you through the corners. He blew that notion out of the water from day one. What Marques does better than anyone, is corner entry and bike control. At this time, he is the undisputed king of the late brakers {according to data released by Brembo}, and what some mistakenly think is some kind of magic qyroscopic anti crash inhibitor is called bike control, the dude has bike control running out of his ears. That is why you rarely see anyone, including Rossi {who was the master}, really get physical with him. They know that not only does he possess the attitude of a fighter, he has the bike control to slice and dice you to pieces if you want to play hard. I firmly believe the difference between Honda and Yamaha is greatly exaggerated as an excuse by riders and their fans. Its hard to admit that someone is just better, in racing its sacrilege, so you must blame it on something . Sometimes the reason is pretty damn obvious, i think this is one of those times

And then Spies was on arguably the best bike in the paddock (M1) and could barely finish a single race, and then retired in humiliation. Stoner won a championship, won 23 races and podium'd 42 times in 4 years on the Ducati. Then, 7x world champion (500/GP) Valentino Rossi had Stoner's bike for 2 years and got.... 3 podiums. Nicky Hayden also got 3 podiums in his first 3 years w/ Ducati. Being on the "same bike" doesn't mean much, the difference in support and parts can be drastic enough that it caused Rossi and Lorenzo to split to different bikes. (remember when NH was leading the championship and was made the testing-mule while Pedrosa was the golden child?)

While I'm at it, I'd like to beat the dead horse again and IMPLORE Nicky Hayden to ditch MotoGP once and for all and go racing for results in World Superbike. I want to see him on something competitive before he retires. That piece of garbage also-ran honda production racer is not it.

going to WSBK. He has to be the most disrespected World Champion on the grid. He would have a real chance of being World Champion again in WSBK IMHO. But Motogp Teams just seem to not want or respect him.

He generates a lot of media interest and, whilst he gives the impression that says what he thinks, he is clearly 'performing' for the media. You cannot always believe what you read/hear in the media, but T3 did not want to lose him as far as I can tell and HP does not appear to be the type to suffer fools, or be led by others unless they are waving contracts (e.g. Yamaha/Pol).
Ducati knew what they getting. If they are surprised/disappointed that they (effectively) dumped Nicky for someone more outspoken then they are the fools. I don't think so. Also, Cal may have 'arrived' before Gigi but he surely must have been 'in the loop' before then. If not, then I am surprised.
There are a lot of things known in the paddock that we do not hear. The latest Ducati announcement about their bike is disappointing (I for one was hoping for it to appear before the season ended). The 'big idea' (sure, you can never really tell) seems to be the engine cases - which I recall JB asking for nearly 3 years ago.
Cal will move for one thing - a big pay check. He is well paid at Ducati but if Suzuki (or LCR) should offer him the chance to double his money then he might be thinking that the snail pace of change at Ducati has only improved to that of a slow-worm and a questionable budget at Suzuki is less risk than indecision/lethargy at Ducati. He wants factory, so LCR seems a long-odds choice if the choice is Cal's and not Dall'Igna's.
If Cal can see the colour of their money this month he will decide. If the suitable offer to entice him away is not there , he will stay.

Dovi that is. The bloke has proved time and again that he is factory rider material. Lets face it, in GP Senior the only bunch that have beaten him consistently are the gang of four. That gang being Stoner/Lorenzo/Rossi Pedrosa. Then there is Marc. Next time he (Marc)swings a leg over a Duc will be his first time and that won't happen anytime soon.
Right now Dovi is pretty much in the pound seats at Ducati. He's already equalled Rossi's exploitations with the brand. Much like Capirossi of 990 yesteryear, he has inherited the Ducati spearhead mantle.
The chances of him becoming an MGP world champ are as remote as a Brit or American rider winning it anytime soon.
In the interim and until official retirement, Dovi would be well advised to stay put with Ducati. Jack Miller may fancy his chances of doing a Stoner/Capirex/Ducati job a la 2007. Future hence Dovi/Miller/Ducati 2016.
Why not. The Repsol/HRC ticket is a Spanish train.
The Marx brothers are doing a superb job, but the game of GP surely looks a lopsided Spanish affair. This is not a Dorna/Spanish issue. It is just systemic of the apathy that exists outside of Spain/Italy pertaining to the sport.
Top 5 in any class for upgrading to next category? At the end of the day it all goes about money which is sad but true. Mahindra riders like Oliviera and Binder could probably make the switch to GP as efficiently as Stoner did from 250 to 990 with consequent results.
Outside looking in. Roll on 2016 and ECU and Michelin. In the mean time we enjoy the races between Honda and Yamaha and their 4 factory riders.

''When they were on the same bike the same year, Sykes couldnt see Spies with
now that was funny xD

I know that Cal likes to speak a lot. Even feel much of it is to keep himself relevant. But he has not EVER shown raw speed that would make him a race winner in Motogp. He seems to be the discount store version of Colin Edwards to me. But where Colin Edwards can look at himself, or had to be asked certain questions before he spoke, Cal just blurts out WHATEVER is on his mind. He has seemed to have cut back, but his mouth keeps on writing checks that his talent cannot cash.

Lets really look at it. The first year he tried to get with Ducati, he talked non stop about getting the ride... then Dovi pops up with it instead of him. Herver Poncharal Tech 3 keep saying they want to keep Cal even though Cal is steady saying he wants a Factory Ride. Tech3 had arguably the best bike outside of Factory Yamaha or Honda. At the time many people put Yamaha as better than Honda. Poncharal (Tech3), keeps reiterating that Cal basically has a factory bike, gets changes done that Cal asks for. Still, Cal keeps saying he needs to a factory ride. DISLOYAL. Dovi beat him at Tech 3, and Dovi is good, but hardly someone that would be called an alien. But he would beat Cal on a regular.

Tech 3 nurtures racers into maturity. Practically breast feeds nutrients of becoming a fast racer. But Cal's obsession takes him to Ducati. Factory ride, but problem bike that is far worse than the Tech 3 Yamaha. Whether he knew Gigi was coming or not is up in the air. But what he DID know is that the bike sucked. But he went anyway. That was his mistake, so to me, his frustration with the team, and squatting down in interviews to defecate on the team not getting the bike right is slightly retarded. He should loose his seat to someone else. IANNONE comes to mind. Someone who is usually the fastest Ducati in qualifying. He has issues with the bike to but he is not leaving stool all over the place about it.

Sorry for the long post. Was trying NOT to write about it. But Cal to me has only himself to blame, and really has not earned the right to be so negatively verbal about a team and bike he basically begged to be apart of.

OK, Cal has been a bit emotional at times, but did anyone predict not just the general uncompetitiveness of the GP14 but also the unreliability (usually electronic) suffered by Cal this year? Say what you like about the D16 but it's been very reliable over many years. NH had a couple of electronics failures over the years he was there but otherwise it's been solid in the reliability stakes.

Has Cal had a single clean practice, qualifying and race weekend as yet? I include there meetings compromised due to injuries caused by the bike breaking again (ie CotA).

I agree his record is not earth shattering, but he's really had a crap time of it this year even by former Ducati pilot standards. To convey disappointment at the state of play is only human.

Averagerider, Yamaha signed Pol Espargaro on a pre-contract placed in Tech3 for 2014 in Jan / Feb 2013. Bradley Smith was on a 2 year deal for 2013/2104;

Crutchlow knew he didn't have a seat with Tech 3 from early 2013 so can't really say he was being disloyal to T3 in the process of finding another ride.

I understand how he winds some some people up but he's not always the villain he's made out to be........

I did not know that. Will try not to be so negative on Cal because there is more to the story than I know. BUT! He HAD to know what he was getting into at Ducati and that is what rubs me the wrong way. Still, I will try to make less negative comments on him.

Yamaha and Tech3 both strongly suggested if he wanted to stay, he could probably at the cost to Bradley Smith. He had great support from Yamaha and vocal support from Poncheral. Despite this he complained vocally.

He knew well how others had struggled at Ducati yet is seizing on the same troubles to openly criticise them too.

Undoubtedly, he has issues with not being supportive of those trying all they can to assist him. This, I imagine, is why people consider he has a lack of loyalty.

It seemed incredible to me at the time that Yamaha offered up additional cash to keep Crutchlow for 2014, because Cal was openly hostile to Yamaha. It is absolutely incorrect to say Cal was pushed out, had no ride, so had to sign with Ducati. Remember Cal's nastiness of refusing to utter the word "Yamaha" to the press? How cool... NOT.

I've said before, I WANT riders to be honest and candid with the press, and NOT shy away from controversy by repeating bland PR-speak written by the team press officer. But there is a right way to do that, and a wrong way. Crutchlow should study how Valentino handled his situation at Ducati. Valentino was open and vocal about his problems, but he maintained a degree of respect for his team, his teammates, and Ducati as a brand. Cal has not done that. Shame.

And Cal also has the problem that his teammates on the factory team as well as Pramac have performed significantly better than he has on multiple occasions.

Or, I would be surprised if they didn't. It seems pretty clear that Poncheral was fond of Cal (he didn't have to say those things either before or after he left). After the factories, T3 were getting (and still are) some of the greatest exposure in the media.
I recall the brake disc dust-up shortly after Dovi joined - with Cal (allegedly) having to buy his own Brembo callipers. I suspect some of that was 'leverage' on sponsors/suppliers/Yamaha to get upgrades on everything from chassis' to fuel tanks and seamless gears. It must be relentless trying to keep up with the factory, and relationships help smooth the path. Cal has played 'good guy/bad guy' with Poncheral, I feel, and, whilst it may be a natural role for him, I think there is a lot more to it than 'whingeing'.
It's a lot easier for a team principal to negotiate on the basis of 'need' rather than 'want' when you have riders broadcasting their requests.


"Suzuki took many months to get the Marelli ECU up and running, but even now, it is still under intense development. Such an approach points to a lack of resources going into the project in Hamamatsu, a problem which has hampered Suzuki's MotoGP efforts for a long time, perhaps since the early '90s."

Surely Yamaha, Honda and Ducati had oodles of data and a fully race developed rider tuned working set of base data to go on when porting over their software to the standard ECU making the porting process that much simpler for them.

Suzuki firstly needed to get a working ECU management system developed, tune it with test rider feedback and THEN port it over to the standard ECU system. Once that's complete they can start testing and developing in earnest with race speed riders (yes RdP is a question mark in that respect but must be better than a test rider whose fastest is four or five seconds a lap off the pace). I agree that Yamaha and Honda will have more resources than Suzuki but to say Hammatsu is under resourcing the new project is probably overstating things imo.

Why is it that so many of you are dishing Marc? Two years ago, the aliens were aliens, but now that they are getting their butt's kicked, the aliens are having issues with their bikes/etc. Rossi seems like the only one that relish's fighting with this kid, while Jorge seems defeated, Dani seems...I don't know what. The other youngsters would love to fight with Marc, IF they had the bike. Dani ran into the back of Marc because of a line change, not because he was that much faster.

Im enjoying this kid kicking everyones butt. Its history in the making. The Rossi, Jorge, Dani are gonna have to step up and find a way to beat him, or.....

David, any input from the pits on Marc? I know you've said in the past that the outlier is Marc, not the bike, or anything else. Wanna expound again?

So Lorenzo just visited Ferrari's F1 team.
Did he also visit Ducati headquarters?
Would he really ride the red bike, or is he
just sabre rattling for Jarvis?