Poncharal: "Crutchlow Is Our First Choice!"

Despite all attempts to put MotoGP's silly season on hold while the world awaits Valentino Rossi's announcement that he has signed for Ducati, the business of filling next year's empty seats rumbles on. That business is most pressing for the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, as the team looks set to lose both its current riders at the end of this season.

In an interview with the French website Moto Caradisiac, Monster Tech 3 team boss Herve Poncharal sheds some light on his plans for 2011. The interview covers both MotoGP and Moto2, and in it, Poncharal lets slip a few interesting details.

Before talking about what his plans are for next season, he first points out that everything is contingent on Valentino Rossi moving to Ducati. But that matter is to be cleared up on the Sunday night after the Brno race, Poncharal told Moto Caradisiac, saying that Yamaha has a press conference planned at which they will announce their 2011 line up.

With that proviso out of the way, Poncharal discussed the possible options to fill the empty spots in his team, admitting that Cal Crutchlow is the favorite to take over the Yamaha-funded spot in the Tech 3 squad. "He is the favorite," Poncharal told Moto Caradisiac, "and he is already on good terms with our sponsor Monster." The Sterilgarda Yamaha World Superbike rider also has Monster as a personal sponsor.

As for the seat likely to be vacated by Colin Edwards, Poncharal was so far at a loss as to who would take the Texan veteran's place. The French team boss was clear on who wouldn't be riding for him, though: Poncharal rejected suggestions that Andrea Dovizioso could take a seat in the Tech 3 squad, pointing out that the Italian had a very firm contract with Honda. He also dismissed any interest in Tony Elias, pointing out that although Elias is doing well in Moto2, the reason the Spaniard is in the class is because nobody would have him in MotoGP.

Perhaps the most intriguing piece of information that Andre Leconde managed to tease out of Poncharal, though, was his thoughts on Moto2. The Tech 3 boss confirmed that the team would have a French rider in the Moto2 class next year, going on to say that he was not recruiting from the current crop of Frenchmen already racing in the class. Instead, Poncharal had turned his gaze to the UEM Superstock 600 championship, currently being raced as a support class to World Superbikes. Poncharal is keen on signing either Jeremy Guarnoni or Florian Marino, the two men leading the Superstock 600 title race.

Poncharal's interest in the Superstock 600 class is significant, as the Moto2 class has proved to be an entirely different kettle of fish to the 250cc class whose place it took. Many of the big names from 250s have floundered in Moto2, with riders like Hector Faubel, Mike di Meglio, Mattia Pasini and Stefan Bradl languishing in mid-table with just a handful of points. The 250 pilots complain that they can't get the 600s to steer with the precision of a 250, and spend a lot of time working on setup to try and correct the problem. Meanwhile, former riders from production classes such as Kenny Noyes, Alex Baldolini and Yonny Hernandez have been scoring surprisingly strongly, despite a lack of track knowledge on most of the circuits raced so far.

The key to going fast on a Moto2 bike, it appears, is not to expect it to behave like a 250. With more horsepower, more weight and bigger tires, the key is to bully the bike around the track, treating it more like a chainsaw than the scalpel-like precision of a 250. That skill is one learned on production bikes, as the setup options - especially on Superstock machinery - are very limited indeed. The key skill that riders learn in Superstock is making the best of what they've got, rather than trying to make the bike perfect before attempting to race. With development still ongoing in Moto2, and the bikes still a long way from perfect, this could open the door to other Superstock and Supersport riders joining the ranks of Moto2. As some pundits predicted at the start of the 2010 season, the Moto2 class has opened up another route into MotoGP, alongside the traditional path of 125s, Moto2 and then the premier class. That in itself is a good thing, and promises even more when production-based 1000s in prototype frames are allowed to race in MotoGP from 2012.

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I think it's too early to say what makes a good moto2 rider. While there have been some interesting flare ups from Noyes and Hernandez, the top 10 in the standings are all proven 125/250 riders.

In the end (a few years from now) I think the Moto2 class will end up very much like the 250s. Especially after Moto3 develops. And I think this time of flux is just an opportunity to take more chances on riders from other areas. What IMS should do is to poach some of the struggling former 250 riders. I'd go out of my way to see a Supersport race with Faubel, Pasini and DiMeglio against some of the Supersport regulars.

It would be great to see Cal in MotoGP, he's shown his pace while battling grip issues on the R1, without convincing everybody he is worth a shot.. Silverstone will hopefully mark a turning point in his season with bike set up, allowing him to finish strongly and put an end to the theory he needs more time on a Superbike to be a better GP rider..Spies is breaking down conventional thinking that 250/Moto2 riders with prototype experience are natural heirs to vacated seats in the top class and this article points to the fact the old 250 guys are struggling next to boys who come from production based series, Poncheral won't be the only boss thinking along these lines.

WSB is more relevant to GP than Moto2, which is slower than WSS600..here's hoping we see a few more Superbike riders given a chance in the premier class.

I am glad to see the entire paradigm shift from 2T to 4T. The formula has come full circle and now the production based 4T classes will begin feeding riders into the world championship, and not just in superbike. The days of the grids being filled by Spanish and Italian 2T riders are finally coming to a close. This formula bodes well for countries such as the U.S., where the pro 2T classes have been extinct for years.

Yes, if Yamaha wants to move him up to GP. Thanks to the (IMO stupid) rookie rule that HP endorsed for just this reason. Otherwise HP will have to foot the bill himself (not likely).

I would not be surprised to find his second rider, assuming CE2 moves on, to be the lowest paid rider on the grid. Just saying.

I would have thought that Jules Cluzel would figure quite large in Poncheral's MotoGP plans for 2011. He announced last year (prematurely as it turned out) that Cluzel would be riding his Moto2 bike, and I know that he holds Cluzel in high regard still, despite his reputation as a crasher.

However he may want an experienced rider alongside Crutchlow so could try to hold on to Edwards or even try and grab Melandri before he slips through the net and goes to WSB.

I'll be happy just to see Crutchlow on a MotoGP bike regardless of who his team mate is :) I only hope that he gets a contract long enough for him to learn the bike/circuits and still be able to shine through in year 2.

As for which style of rider suits Moto2 best? Results so far seem to indicate that it is the guys with chassis set up skills who are performing better than those from production backgrounds. Maybe Herve thinks they will have the chassis sorted by next year and won't need to adjust it?

Anyone know how long a contract Guintoli has with Alstare?
I could easily see him on the second Tech3 (has the MotoGP experience) and it was only really injury/lack of funding that saw him dropped from the grid before, not a lack of pace.
Besdies he would be a very cheap, and french, reliable ass on the second seat which seems exactly what Herve is after

Snubbing Elias is a mistake, imo. He's the last person to win on a satellite bike. He had good results before breaking his femur in 2007. In 2008 he scored two podiums on a satellite Ducati (no one has come close since). The 2009 season was not good, but he did score an a podium on an almost-factory Honda.

Elias was moved out of the premier class along with DeAngelis simply b/c there aren't enough bikes on the grid. Honda also wanted to sign Simoncelli, and Gresini wanted to sign Melandri. If there were still 20 bikes on the grid, Elias would be employed.

I wouldn't hire Elias over Cal, but if Tech 3 lose both Ben and Colin, Elias would be at the top of the list with Cal.

Glad someone else saw that! The article was a good read but then he bashes Elias. Rediculous. I think Toni is clearly THE MOST qualified guy to have a motoGP ride next season. Hell, he's more qualified than a lot of riders on the grid right now! The only motoGP rider that is having success in moto2 right now! He could have easily gotten discouraged or swallowed up by the other 40 bikes on the grid, but he dug deep, learned a completely different bike on different tires and is obviously the best rider out there! It's a shame he can't get a ride!

I'd take Elias over any rider in Superbike. He must be carrying baggage to be inviting comments from Herve like that.

Is it possible Elias has an attitude issue that is keeping him out of GP? (Biaggi didn't lose his seat for lack of ability)
As far as Elias being the best in Moto2, I think Iannonne has been showing some real pace, and no one has been able to ride with him when he's on form. I'd think he would be more likely to get a ride next season, despite the current points situation.

Biaggi went to war with Honda and he aired all of his discontentment and criticism in the press.

I don't know of Elias' attitude or his work ethic, but he has never publicly embarrassed HRC. Elias is gone b/c HRC wanted Simoncelli, and there aren't enough well funded satellite teams for anyone to hire Elias.

The real question is: Why do these super talented riders waste their lives on uncompetitive equipment at relatively low pay when they can get competitive equipment and good pay in WSBK?

It makes sense for Crutchlow to go to GP b/c he's going to get Dorna money for making the BBC happy, but a half dozen guys would be better off in WSBK, imo.

"With more horsepower, more weight and bigger tires, the key is to bully the bike around the track, treating it more like a chainsaw than the scalpel-like precision of a 250."

The chainsaw remark had me in tears. Good stuff.

I find it interesting that this time last year Herve had a queue half way around the paddock looking for the 2010 Tech 3 seats. In light of Spies and Edwards complaints that they're on a slightly updated 2009 bike this year, it would seem that the satelite Yamaha ride is no longer the top choice for riders unable to bag a factory ride.

"...the reason the Spaniard is in the class is because nobody would have him in MotoGP."

Ridiculous for him to say that of course (if he did), not to mention wildly unfair to Elias, who is a MotoGP race winner. How many of the current crop of riders can say that? Or ever will be able to? IMO Elias is at least as good, if not better, than a handful of riders currently in the top class.

That said, it is understandable that Poncharal would not be especially interested in Elias.