2010 Silly Season Round Up Part 1: The Known Knowns

Although MotoGP's traditional silly season - the point at which teams and riders decide who will be going where next year - is currently being blocked by one man (a certain Spanish rider by the name of Jorge Lorenzo), it is still time to start taking stock of the current state of the market, and marking out who will be staying and who will be going. Over the next few days MotoGPMatters.com will be running a series of articles on the state of the silly season, to help you keep track. All the official signings will be recorded on the 2010 MotoGP rider line up page, which will be updated as and when contracts are actually confirmed.

So far, that list is pretty short. Only Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner and Marco Simoncelli have confirmed contracts for 2010, the rest is all up in the air. Rossi is halfway through his two-year contract with Yamaha, and is likely to extend that at the end of next season; Stoner has exercised the option he had to remain with Ducati for next year, though his disappointment with Yamaha and Honda for not offering him a factory ride at the end of 2006 has a role to play in the decision; and Simoncelli is the first victim of the rookie rule, the Italian expected to go to a factory team, but being prevented by the rule barring new entries into the class from signing directly with a factory team and forcing them to serve an apprenticeship year - and help bring some much-needed sponsorship into - a satellite team.

Though the list of confirmed riders is short, there are still plenty of things we are sure about for the 2010 MotoGP season. The first of these is the entry of the Aspar team into the paddock, taking over the Ducati left vacant by the surprise withdrawal of Sete Gibernau's Grupo Francisco Hernando squad. Aspar has dominated the lower classes, Julian Simon taking the team's 100th victory at Donington at the end of July, and has been trying to break into the MotoGP class for the past couple of years. Although no rider has yet been confirmed for the Aspar squad, what we can be sure of is that both the rider and the title sponsor will be Spanish, and possibly even Valencian. Aspar has been trying to persuade his protege Alvaro Bautista to join him in MotoGP, but Bautista is believed to be wary of the career-wrecking ability of the Ducati.

Whether he goes to Aspar or not, Alvaro Bautista is certain to be one of a number of rookies entering the class. Bautista will be joining current arch rival Marco Simoncelli in MotoGP, perpetuating the Italian-Spanish rivalry that exists at all levels of MotoGP. Hector Barbera is almost certain to join Bautista and Simoncelli, the only question being where, though his name is being touted around a number of destinations in the paddock.

To make way for the arrival of these new riders, an exodus of older names is also on the cards. At least one former World Superbike rider is certain to return to the series, and it is likely there will be more than one rider to return to the WSBK fold.

The other near certainty is the end of Kawasaki's participation in MotoGP. The factory only acceded to Dorna's request to continue in the series after coming under serious pressure (and implied legal threats) from Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta to remain, but after the promised year, Kawasaki is likely to be gone. Their withdrawal is doubly tragic, as the atmosphere in the team is exceptionally cheerful, everyone working both harder and probably better than ever, partly as a result of Marco Melandri's remarkable performance on the Hayate.

The final certainty we have about the 2010 season is that Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa will not be in the same team. Lorenzo is yet to decide between Honda and Yamaha - though highly reliable sources say that the Spaniard will be staying with the Fiat Yamaha squad - but if he switches to Honda, Dani Pedrosa will leave. Pedrosa has repeatedly denied that his decision will be based on what is best for Dani Pedrosa, not reliant on what Jorge Lorenzo does, but Lorenzo would not join Honda without a guarantee of equal treatment at the very least, and Pedrosa would not accept anything other than a guaranteed number 1 position in the team.

More of that tomorrow, though, when we move from the known knowns to the known unknowns, to use Donald Rumsfeld's awkward yet supremely useful phrase.

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,,if I were a betting man, I would wager that the terms have been accepted by Melandri at Gresini for him to pilot the Honda for 2010. Even if he doesn't get the one "factory" bike. Alternatives are too sparse.

The known unknowns will be discussed tomorrow, so have a little patience ;-) And yes, Melandri is one of the things we will be discussing!

Casey and Nicky will be staying with the factory squad, and Pramac has stated that Kallio isn't going anywhere. That potentially leaves room for two unfortunate souls to straddle the Italian nightmare next season - one to fill Canepa's slot and one to ride for the new Aspar team. I am a die-hard Bati fan, and I would love to see him move up to a successful team next year, but the last thing I want is to have Alvaro's career ended before it begins by failing to tame the Ducati.
I'm dying to hear your predictions for 2010; I'm even more confused this year than I was when all the rumors were swirling last year.
-Dave http://www.motourage.net

,, not enough rumors about a deserved promotion of who is arguably the current fastest 250 pilot (no disrespect to Marco & Alvaro). In the "done so much with so little category" (because that Honda wasn't supposed to be so fast),, where is the news of the big guys recruiting this lightening-bolt.

DE - Patience is not my best quality :) you probably already knew that..

Agreed. He is leading the series, AND he's Japanese. He should have a huge target on his back for the Japanese squads.

Nicky resigning with Ducati for 2010 is done deal (or very close to being so). It was a combination of his recently improved performance & an unwillingness by other big name riders to sign with Ducati. Plus, the fact that all 150 Ducati 848 Nick Hayden editions sold out during the USGP weekend thoroughly delighted Ducati North America...

Cryogeneric, what kind of "recent improvement" by Hayden are you speaking?

Do you mean by improvment that Hayden qualified 15th in the last GP at 2.1 seconds from pole position? About as bad as his Melandri; but unlike Melandri Hayden was not sent to a shrink and got big time support. After all, Hayden, unlike Melandri is good at selling bikes.

I was speaking specifically of his form at Assen, Laguna & Sachsenring. His improvement at those venues was evident compared to his form at the beginning of the season. You're right, however, his results at Donington were dismal.

"Simoncelli is the first victim of the rookie rule, the Italian expected to go to a factory team, but being prevented by the rule barring new entries into the class from signing directly with a factory team and forcing them to serve an apprenticeship year - and help bring some much-needed sponsorship into - a satellite team".

Yes silly season indeed. The only SILLY mofo around is Emmett posting such BS Bunk like this shiet. WTF is this guy smoking (or drinking). Have not seen so much nonsense in a while. "rookie rule"? "preventing by the rule, baring new entries from signing directly"? LMFAO hhahahaha... Yes, Mr. Emmett please show us "that rule" buuuahahaha... oh, yeah.. i know where: From outta your arse.

Sadly enough, there are morons that actually believe there is such a "rule"...ignoring the FACT that well, reality is quite different.

Keep up the entertaining BS.

You can find the official FIM press release on the rookie rule here. Unfortunately it's only in French, as they don't have the English version of the press release up. However, you can find the exact English wording of the press release here. You can also find other reports on this story over on Crash.net and Autosport.com. But here's the relevant extract from the FIM press release:

19. Riders who enter the Championship for the first time (Rookies) must be entered by a non factory Team.

At the press conference after the rule change was announced, the press (especially the Italian press) badgered both Vito Ippolito and Carmelo Ezpeleta about just how the rookie rule would work, pointing to the example of Valentino Rossi's Nastro Azzurro team as a team which was nominally a non-factory team, despite having full factory equipment and all of HRC's best engineers and mechanics, including one Jeremy Burgess.

Oh yes, excellent official sources

"For 2010

1. Only one machine can be used during each MotoGP event."

Shorly after from the FIM

"FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix: Information on the 2010 Regulations


It has been confirmed that:

1. Teams may present a maximum of 2 motorcycles per rider for technical control.


The 09 "rookie rule" does not exist. It is a (dumb arse) proposal that may or make not make it the rule book in 2010 Unless, I miss something, there is nothing official yet. And moreoever, until the 2010 rule book (or at least draft) is made it is not anymore that the "official press release" stating only one bike....

Unless it is changed that looks like an official rule to me. I think that in addition to being wrong you are also acting like an ass. Feel free to disagree but there is no reason to be disrespectful.

Wow...kind of harsh. If I didn't know about the rookie rule coming into play for 2010 I'd be kind of wound up as well. But, I do know about it, as does most everyone. This includes the MotoGP teams. Just emagine if FIM didn't incluse this rule after going so far as to clarifiy what a "rookie" is...less than 9 races under contract in one season.

IF FIM does not implement a rookie rule for 2010 then 2010 will be the last year the FIm exist. Simply because the riders will never trust them again and the lawyeers will own them in court.

I think we will see:
Spies with TECH3. Toseland goes back to WSB.
Lorenzo and Pedrosa swap teams.
Pedrosa needs to learn how to beat Rossi before he brags on being better than Lorenzo because he isn't and never will be.
Simoncelli is a wildcard. I could see him handling a Ducati.
Everyone else ends up with second rate bikes or stuck on The Beasts.

Richard Bell
CEO. Founder.
He Who Dares Wins.