Gino Borsoi: "Maybe We Will Sit Down With Yamaha At Qatar"

The Tech3 team's decision to switch from Yamaha to KTM sent shock waves through the MotoGP paddock. Few had been expecting Tech3 to abandon a relationship of 20 years and give up a bike which a proven track record of success. Simultaneously, the shock waves Tech3's announcement triggered a reaction among the other teams in the paddock: with two Yamaha M1s up for grabs, other satellite teams not already locked in are weighing their options. After Tech3, who's next?

The names being bandied about to replace Tech3 as a satellite Yamaha team are self evident. Marc VDS have been strongly linked to the rides, with the Angel Nieto Team a close second, though Avintia are also in the fray. With suggestions that Suzuki and Aprilia are also examining the possibility of supplying bikes to a satellite team, it seems there is much to play for.

At the Jerez Moto2/Moto3 test, I spoke to Gino Borsoi, team director of the Angel Nieto Team, who was there to oversee the test for the team's Moto3 riders, Andrea Migno and Albert Arenas. The subject was of course whether the team had any interest in taking over the Yamahas which had been freed up by Tech3, and their plans for 2019 and beyond.

A second door opens

Tech3's decision had taken them by surprise, Borsoi admitted. "Well, of course it's something that we didn't expect about Tech3. We heard some rumors around the paddock last season, but then you never know really what's going on. So we were surprised when we read in the newspaper that Tech3 decided to end their relationship between them and Yamaha, and from that point we started to understand honestly that maybe we have another door open to us, and maybe we have a chance to talk to Yamaha."

Such talks had not yet taken place, Borsoi added, and the media stories linking the team to the bikes had also been a surprise. "Until now, we didn't discuss with Yamaha at all," he said. "So I don't know why all the journalists say we have a chance to get the Yamaha, because we haven't talked with them, honestly."

The main objective for the Angel Nieto Team was to extend their existing deal with Ducati, Borsoi said. "Our idea was to sit down with them in Qatar and discuss the future with Ducati, because honestly, we are happy with Ducati, we have a good collaboration, the bike is OK, there are no issues, no reason to change our manufacturer. But Yamaha has a really good bike, so maybe we will sit down and discuss with Yamaha."

Borsoi believed that the team was not first in line for the Yamahas, though. "Honestly, I think Marc VDS already started to talk with [Yamaha], they started a bit earlier than us for sure. Because also maybe they have a plan to change from Honda to another bike, so as you said before, Carmelo [Ezpeleta's] plan is to have every factory bike with a satellite team. It seems at the moment like that will be possible, because Tech3 with KTM, maybe we have a chance to continue with Ducati or have a chance to get a Yamaha or Suzuki, we don't honestly know, and from Qatar, we will start to discuss with everybody."

VR46 coming

The elephant in the room when any discussion of the satellite Yamahas come up is obviously the Sky VR46 racing team. When Valentino Rossi retires, he is expected to take over the running of the VR46 team and for the team to enter MotoGP. Given Rossi's long and close ties to Yamaha, it is inconceivable that the Sky VR46 racing team will not run Yamahas as a satellite team. So any deal now with Yamaha would likely only be until Rossi retires, probably in two years' time.

Borsoi admitted this would be a factor going into negotiations with Yamaha. "It's something we have to keep in mind, of course, when you start talking with Yamaha. But anyway, nobody knows if it's true or not, it's a rumor around the paddock."

Two years is too short

The Angel Nieto Team would only be interested if there was a long-term deal – three years, at a minimum – on the table. "I think if we will start a new project with Yamaha, it's clear we want to continue a few seasons. To go from Ducati to Yamaha, it's really difficult, you have to start from zero. So it makes no sense to change from Ducati to another brand just for two seasons."

This was something which Yamaha must surely also be aware of, Borsoi added, and would likely have some flexibility on. "Anyway, even Yamaha knows that. If Valentino wants to come, maybe he will get another satellite team with Yamaha. Why not? Because at the moment, OK, we could have a Suzuki or Yamaha, then we have to see what's going on with the Avintia team, and if there are two teams with the same satellite bike, what will happen? Nothing at the end."

Balance of power

The positive development in all of this is that it gives the teams more negotiating power, because they have more choice, Borsoi said. "This is right, we have more choice of course. Seems to be a little bit easier for us to close a deal with a factory. But as I said before, our program was to sit down in Qatar and close the deal with Ducati for the next two seasons, so we are having an internal discussion right now, but our plan is still to sit down with Ducati and talk with them about the future."

The Angel Nieto Team's priority is to see what Ducati has to offer first, and then see what other manufacturers have to offer, Borsoi told me. But they will be having meetings with Yamaha in Qatar as well.

Should the Angel Nieto Team – or any other satellite team – decide to switch suppliers, a decision will have to come very soon. To prepare properly, a deal would have to be signed before MotoGP returns to Europe after the first three overseas races. Borsoi indicated that the end of April was a hard deadline, meaning that contracts would likely be signed at Austin. The first three races are going to be a hive of activity for the factories, and for the satellite teams.

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i do wonder whether we’re all buying too much into vr46 automatically being a Yamaha team. I always felt that Rossi would have dearly loved to have been world champion on an Italian bike, and doing that as a team might be a good second best. Racing is a business, Audi are a business, and while Rossi as a racer may have disappointed Ducati, Rossi as a satellite team owner may be a different calculation. Besides which, I suspect there will be as many people in Yamaha eager for team vr46 not to happen at Yamaha as there will be supporters, largely because after two decades of being the kingpin, Valentino as a team owner may be too much inside the tent and be a threat to their positions.


The political drama generated by VR46/Sky won’t be enough to interfere with the partnership continuing into a team management role. With Tech3 already abdicating to his superior gravity with Yamaha, and we’re still two years out, it’s gotta be the surest of sure things.


There are too many Ducatis on the starting grid si it will have to be one of the three satelite teams racing them to make the switch. Since it will be a kind of shock if Pramac is not the last Ducati satelite team standing (and there will be only one in the end - 24 bikes, 6 factories), its up to Avintia or Angel Nieto (Aspar) to do it.

Aspar changed the bike every two years since they joined MotoGP so it's allready in their nature :) Yamaha for the next 2 seasons and then Suzuki...

What with Suzuki and Aprilia now feeling they might have a feeder team, especially with the new financial structure, it’s possible there will be six manufacturers with four bikes each. Ducati would be the loser, assuming they make good money out of fielding eight bikes? I can’t imagine the two smaller Ducati teams turning down Suzuki or even Aprilia if they can secure sponsors to foot the bill?

Maybe the VR46 speculation is on the money - and it would seem to fit with Yamaha's strategy to use VR's marketing pull to augment the brand. My only problem with it is this: for how long can you imagine that VR will be happy with the satellite team status and support? I think even his detractors would concede that the last few years has seen his scholarship match his talent. So I can imagine a year or two of learning through the satellite team phase. But at some point he will want to run the show. It may also be that the establishment of VR46 satellite team sees a lot more of the go faster bits flow to VR than it did to Tech 3. It is hard to imagine Zarco will get many of those bits this season though.

Still the inter-personal dynamics of Valentino team chief working with Yamaha seem full of promise to me. Thanks to David's pre-season coverage the off season is now a whole new adventure.

First of all, I think any decision on MotoGP line-up has to be made together with Ezpeleta.

Yamaha will have for sure the VR46 satellite team starting from 2021. So therefore we are talking about just a two years contract for any of the contenders. 

Mark VDS could be one of them, yes, but I feel they are very much uncertain about the next move because of the close relationship with Monlau (Marquez entourage would accept to move Alex to Yamaha or Suzuki? What about the future of Joan Mir?). Aspar and Avintia are both in trouble financially. I don't see a bright future for the both of them: they are clearly B teams, with mostly paying riders. Could Yamaha be ever interested in having Xavier Simeon on their M1?

I think all the teams will continue with the same constructors until the end of 2020, Mark VDS included. Besides, Suzuki and especially Aprilia do not have, in my opinion, the possibility to follow 4 bikes: they should concentrate on becoming really competitive with the factory machines first.

Additionally, as I have already written here in a previous comment, I think Aprilia will probably quit racing in MotoGP at the end of this year.

... how Yamaha approaches their next satelite partner. Will it be same as it ever was? Or will they drop the conservative approach and put two factory-supported M1's on the grid to extract maximum data and development potential from 4 identical bikes (at the start of 2019 at least). With an orange tidal wave fast approaching, not to mention Honda and Ducati's more robust programs (Crutchlow, Petrucci), Yamaha would do well to get more aggressive with their MotoGP structure.

The winner in this is us. We are getting more factory bikes on the grid from more manufacturers. Tighter racing.  Aspar is much better than Avintia, don't mistake putting them on level with each other. Avintia will remain a customer until grid spots are bought. Suzuki is not ready to do anything. MarcVDS has a good bike now, as a customer there isn't reason to switch to take Herve's bikes at all. They have had factory support for riders there already from Honda. Aspar has a relationship with Aprilia, and links to Suzuki. But the potential of a Yamaha customer bike has to look interesting now. This is the rarest of opportunities! THE Yamaha satellite vs A Ducati satellite? Being granted Herve's old status even as customer? And the future is very much in flux. Much is at play. What is going on is a radical shift the likes of which pre-date me. There is reason for much optimism. Valentino and Yamaha included. They have a marraige, not a competition. They are bound. VR46 will get full fat factory kit. His budget is what will be interesting - the sponsorship possibilities are amazing! It will redefine marketing and the sport. I expect a mirror project from Spaniards with Honda. The Marlboro tent won't be the place to be anymore. Business and pleasure will be done you know where. Aprilia and Piaggio are selling plenty of scooters. Here comes more motor. They may beat Suzuki to having a satellite team, we are going to have Aspar having a look at taking the Yamahas very soon if they aren't already. I bet Yamaha and SKY46 are making inroads now. While the customer bikes for next year are getting their tires kicked by all three satellite teams. Which one do YOU see having the most gravitas? We know the Ducati - Pramac marraige is stable. The Honda satellite situation is less so. It has been over time, their big satellite program merged into Aprilia. LCR is a small outfit! They could be seen as in competition with the far more substantial MarcVDS program in this phase, an appealing option for Honda. Again, MarcVDS holds lots of cards. Yamaha and Suzuki need what the MarcVDS program offers very much. But we all know that these two manufacturers have been shite at getting these needs met. Suzuki as just plain under performing across the board with a very small arsenal. Yamaha? Neglectful and arrogant.

Hey Dave, ^ FYI as per your request - typed in plain text editor, cut and pasted from elsewhere so as to not lose it all when timed out/refreshing...had paragraph breaks and spaces between each paragraph that disappear after "Preview". 

Who would miss two Gp16s? They have to be retired at some time, surely any income they generate for Ducati is just cream?