Honda Silly Season Update: Three Repsols And Elias At LCR

MotoGP's silly season is almost at an end, with only a few loose ends left to tie up. The names of the riders are all known now, though contracts remain to be signed and announcements to be made, as the final details of deals are hammered out among the various parties.

While Honda's factory line up has been known for a couple of months now, the exact line up and organization has remained unclear. HRC had three riders under contract to ride in the factory team, with Casey Stoner joining Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa for 2011, but there was some doubt about the way the trio would be organized. At Aragon, HRC Marketing Director Livio Suppo told that there would be four factory Honda riders for 2011: Stoner, Dovizioso, Pedrosa and Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli, who also has a contract with HRC directly. After talks failed to tempt another sponsor in to run Casey Stoner in a separate team, Honda put pressure on Andrea Dovizioso to take a seat in the San Carlo Gresini Honda team alongside Simoncelli, with the promise of full factory support in the Gresini squad.

But at Phillip Island, news emerged that Repsol had finally been persuaded to step up their sponsorship for the factory Honda squad to allow three riders to run in the Spanish petroleum giant's colors. Repsol is rumored to have upped sponsorship from 10 million a year to 15 million for 2011, which will allow HRC to run Casey Stoner, Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa inside the Repsol Honda team. The team will not see a separate structure for Casey Stoner, as was first expected, but all three riders will have their own management structure, similar to the set up of the Fiat Yamaha squad this season.

With Dovizioso staying inside the Repsol team, this leaves a space at the Gresini Honda squad. That spot is almost certain to be taken by Hiroshi Aoyama, who has had a difficult rookie season in MotoGP, fracturing a vertebra at Silverstone and missing a number of races this year. Both Dorna and Honda are keen to keep a Japanese rider in the series, and so Aoyama will slot in alongside Simoncelli at Gresini.

This leaves one small problem to be solved: the question of where to place Moto2 champion Toni Elias. Many people believed Elias should never have been dropped from MotoGP at the end of the 2009 season, in which the Spaniard finished 7th in the championship. After dominating the brand new Moto2 class, Dorna is keen to see Elias reinstated in MotoGP, in part to emphasize the value of Moto2 as preparation for the premier class. At first, Elias had been penciled in at the Pramac Ducati squad, but that option met with considerable opposition from the Spaniard, who has bad memories of his year with the team in 2008. Lucio Cecchinello has also been very keen to sign the Spaniard, and in front of a huge crowd celebrating his Moto2 title in Manresa, Spain, Elias confirmed that he would be back in MotoGP: "I can't tell you where," he told the crowd, "but it will be on a great bike and with a great team!"

With Elias edging into the LCR team, this leaves Randy de Puniet with only one option, to sign with Pramac Ducati. Speaking to the French website, De Puniet's manager Eric Mahe confirmed that "it is 99% certain that Elias will ride for Cecchinello next year." Mahe denied that talks had been opened with the Pramac team, but with Dorna keen to keep the Frenchman in MotoGP - and De Puniet's strong riding early in the year building him a strong fan following - there is little doubt that De Puniet will take the Pramac Ducati ride for 2011. Talks between De Puniet and Pramac are expected to take place next weekend, at Estoril.

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Seems like Randy is being given the kiss of death that is the satellite Ducati......... It's a shame really as he impressed last year and for the first half of this year until his accident. I think he deserves a shot at a factory ride, but unlike so many other potentially great riders, he doesn't have the financial backing and there are only so many factory bikes to go round.

Has LCR ever formed a two-rider team? I would wonder how they would fare with Toni Elias in addition to Randy de Puniet. Randy has been riding phenomenal after his spout of crashes out of the way. Yes, Elias definitely deserves to be back in MotoGP. LCR might be able to secure better sponsorship offers with Elias alongside de Puniet. Although I do like the formula LCR has used with multiple sponsors throughout the year.

The problem with LCR being a 2-bike outfit is not just about "better sponsorship"; it's Honda.  It would take a monumental amount of sponsorship to convince them to create another bike (which means hiring personnel devoted to the team). 

Would you guess that Elias' entry to LCR is driven more by Dorna or LCR?

Glad to take all bets on Elias having a shocker next year on the Honda. Been there done that & Elias has shown that he is not mentally tough enough for division 1.
RdP has gotten the worst deal I've seen for many a year and given his brilliant performance this season, Honda have shown once again that they couldn't run a bath, never mind motasickle racing :(

I must be alone in thinking that he's just another talented rider amongst a sea of other talented riders who impresses on occasion but for the majority of the time just riders mid pack (until contract time when he finds performance). Are there not other riders in the GP paddock who deserve a chance?

And is it not also true that RDP effectively talked himself out of the LCR team? I was under the impression that pre accident that LCR were extremely keen to re-sign RDP but that he was looking around for other options.

Toni Elias won the Moto2 Championship in convincing style. Not to mention his 7th place overall finish in the GP championship the previous year. He's exciting to watch and gained a lot of fans since his last go around. The least he deserves is another shot.

... 100% with Cejay.

I think going back to MotoGP (imo) is a bad move.

The Moto2 class is perfect Tigers size and style.

Yes he is The Man in Moto2, but that mean you HAVE to move up?
There has been many riders who win a class title and stay put.

I tweeted this & I'll say it here, I dont think that Tiger will win half the race wins he got in one year in Moto2, that he will in 2 years of MotoGP. Lets round up to 8 this year, so that 4 in MotoGP in 2 years.

Good luck to him ( & Randy ) but I for one would like to see him stay put.

Wow, you're really going out on a limb there... there are former champions on all factory equipment that don't have 4 wins in their entire career.

great analysis to say he won't win 2 races next year, this is deeply surprising to many of us considering he's going to be riding a satellite bike

thanks for your input

A season with a satellite Ducati has been a very certain bike to get out of MotoGP at the end of the season:

Kallio OUT
Espargaro OUT

Canepa OUT

Guintoli OUT

Barros OUT
Hoffman OUT

Cardoso OUT

Rolfo OUT

Hodgson OUT

...but I have a feeling that Rossi and his crew might give a boost to the satellite bikes, at least previously the bike Rossi has been on has been a pretty good bike for other riders too.

about Valentino and crew possibly being able to do just enough with the GP11's chassis to make it more friendly for all riders, a la the M1, rather than just for short Australians. Although the GP11 won't be nearly as much of a full development for Vale and crew as the GP12 will be, at least Vale will be able to provide some input going into the long and intense (intense for the engineers at least) winter break (the value of which Burgess has questioned, understandably, given Vale's current shoulder situation), and it seems that Ducati, along with key sponsors, are serious about putting in the necessary resources.

If they are able to improve the GP11, for all riders, then obviously Randy and Loris stand to benefit, and so perhaps be able to prolong their MotoGP careers. If not, then it may be possible that 2011 may be the the swan song in MotoGP for both, which would be a shame for Randy especially , given that he had shown before his injury that with a decent bike he was capable of fighting near the front. With Loris, if the bike can be improved, we'll see whether it's decline in ability or just crap bike (Alvaro is getting chassis and parts that Loris is not, which were developed by Loris and crew) that has largely resulted in his dismal 2010 season.

Randy, while at first glance, appears to have gotten a demotion by being relegated to a Pramac GP11, it may actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise if the bike can be improved to be a great handler for all riders (it is already capable of being a dominant bike as Casey has shown of late), and the Pramac bikes receive significant trickle-down benefits from Ducati's increased investment in development. If the bike is not improved notably for all riders, and if the Pramac GP11s continue to remain backmarkers, then whatever fate awaits Randy after 2011 will have been sadly largely due to his own shooting of own foot. He, in his unfruitful pursuit of a now-vanished factory Suzuki seat, just held off a once-eager Cecchinello for too long. LCR, tight-budgeted in the best of times, now has in sight in Elias a world champion to sell to potential sponsors. This prospect it seems is too tempting for Lucio to resist, and so Randy is now the odd-man-out.

We shall see. Depending on what Ducati and Vale and crew can do with the GP11, it may be a good 2011 for Randy, or not so good. If the bike gets significantly better, may be Elias loses out by shunning the GP11. May be he's still a middling-quality rider by MotoGP standards, getting on a sub-Gresini satellite Honda that Randy out-rode the shit out of in the earlier part of this season. Or not. Perhaps, now as a world champion, he will have the confidence to ride every race like Estoril '06, and he'll be on a continually improving RC212V that will be markedly superior to the GP11.

Whichever the case, it's looking like 2011 could be one of the best GP seasons in history. Let's hope that there'll be an absolute minimum of injuries (none would be better of course), and that we'll see the potential realized.

Actually, Xaus went to yamaha after his year at ducati, so he doesn't count.

Seems like a sideways move at best for LCR (assuming they dump RDP for Elias).

RDP was the most interesting rider this season and pramac the least interesting team.

If I was calling the shots Elias would not be on my rider list. The way he rides a bike (draging his ass on the ground and spending half the race looking backwards) doesn't seem to work too well for him in MotoGP. I don't see how racing around on the 600s for a year (using his same riding habits) is going to make him better in the top class at this point. Maybe he should stick with his winning bike and team instead of trading it to ride around in 10th.

As usual it's just my armchair opinion.

I believe that the next season will be much more interesting and full of drama if Casey were to move to fiat Yamaha instead of Repsol Honda. So we can see who is the best rider in the era of 800cc. Spies just stays in the Satellite yamaha.

Best rider would be the one who wins the Championship. Fastest rider is Casey Stoner I would say.

If Repsol is giving each team $5m to operate on, then where is the $12m for Stoner and a comparable sum I presume for Pedro coming from?

"After dominating the brand new Moto2 class, Dorna is keen to see Elias reinstated in MotoGP, in part to emphasize the value of Moto2 as preparation for the premier class."

Where do they get these stupid ideas? Everyone knows Elias went from MotoGP back down to Moto2, so how exactly does him going back to MotoGP prove that Moto2 is good preparation? All it proves is that a fast rider from MotoGP was able to beat less experienced riders on slower bikes.

I'm more inclined to listen to the likes of Jeremy Burgess, who doesn't think it's good preparation for MotoGP.

I don't understand some of the posts in this thread ... Elias definitely belongs back in MotoGP imo. He didn't just win Moto2 (a class with everyone throttling the same engine), he did so with grit and determination and in a convincing fashion. At Indy he raced with a fever and BEAT Simone and Redding to win the race!

Elias has shown he has everything it takes and can do extremely well with a good bike. And he is well liked within the paddock and among fans and he was gracious in his thoughts on Shoya. He has earned this ride and belongs in the premier class both on and off the bike.

As noted in another post, hopefully the developmental help from Rossi/Burgess will trickle through to the satellite bikes and work well for RdP. Also, I'm happy that Dovi is going to, apparently, get the support he's earned per contract and what he's done this season.

I would say, "GO AWAY, TONI!" That guy doesn't need to be in MotoGP. Seems the only time he rode fast was at contract time. Give someone else a shot. Elias is a waste of time.

RdP would've shown a lot more for another year on the bike. Seems like he rides hard every time he's on the bike. Elias? Not so much.

The fact that Elias won so convincingly when he has performed poorly in Motogp should tell you something.

How he finished 7th last year is strange. His highest placing was 3rd. The next was a 6th, with quite a few 9ths and lower. His previous years championship standings were 12th, 12th, 9th and 12th.

So I still don't get this clamour to see him (back) in Motogp.

Thats the reason Elias is back,along with the obvious need to sell Moto 2 as a stepping stone to GP. I reckon,no matter what,the powers that be will push to have at least one Moto 2 rider move up every year. It may well transpire for Cal Cruthlow to be the last SBK rider to move up to GP for years to come.He better make a fist of it, otherwise any SBK rider hoping for a GP seat best pack his bags now and get over to Moto 2. Guareschi is already interested in Scott Redding. There's Iannone,Simon,Luthi,De Angelis and many others already in the Dorna fold. The Flammini's must be tearing their hair out.
As for Repsol,I'm glad they found a way to keep Dovi in the fold. I expect a 'little' Red Bull sponsorship will flow in,now that it's settled. Good thing they're running the rider's as seperate teams within the the big team.Like Yamaha had done,this will certainly propel development of the bike quicker.Nothing like a bit of rivalry to spark a competitive edge.
Tell you what,if this goes according to plan,we may well see Honda so dominant that they can turn around at the end of next year and say...'It's the bike,not the rider.' mmm...perhaps they will tread a little more carefully and go with...
'HRC again prove their engineering prowess in motorcycle engineering and we have some great riders within the organization' . Once bitten,twice shy eh ?.

I could see RdP having an unspectacular ride next year and then doing an Elias, heading to Moto2 and dominating for a season.

I agree Ducati Satellite riders haven't done so well for the most part. I agree that if RdP rides it we will finally see the potential of the bike and that will be nice. I hope he stays fit next year.

Mid season Cecchinello wanted to sign him then and there. But Randy had the sceptre of filthy Suzuki lucre dangled in front of him - a reported doubling of the LCR EUR1m figure. Suzuki pulled the plug, poor Randy got injured at exactly the wrong time and Pramac is all he's left with.

That's not to say that is a bad thing. As Kallio has pointed out last year it's virtually the same machine as the Malboro's. Tis about time someone else stood up and proved the Bologna Bullets can be ridden by others - as admirable a job as Nicky is doing this year. I doubt that person will be RdeP though. I don't believe the Ducati can be ridden rodeo style. I am expecting Rossi wins and Loris if still motivated can be a dark horse.

"I don't believe the Ducati can be ridden rodeo style."

For all the comments insinuating its tendency to be a bucking bronco, you might think otherwise. Hah! Honestly though, RDP reminds me of a slightly more mature version of Jules Cluzel. Dangeroulsy fast, sharply motivated, and has no problem riding outside his limits.

I like him though. I'm reminded of (Silverstone?) when he was pushing so so hard on Qualifying. His Honda was bucking and weaving, but his wrist just kept twisting. Maybe Randy is the right level of crazy to get that little something else that only Casey has been able to find. that Elias is a pretty entertaining guy to watch, but he will never win again in Moto GP. There's absolutely no reason I can find to think that he would. He's good, but he's no alien. He'll be duking it out for (possibly as high as) 8th, because I also thoroughly believe that Nicky, Ben, and Dovi are all faster. It's a token gesture on Dorna's part to try and tout the value of Moto 2 as a feeder class, but I don't think it's gonna work out the way they intended. I've just never seen anything to declare (aside from a BRILLIANT flash-in-the-pan moment where the momentary foolishness of KRJr., the peerless engine of the RC211V, and a featherweight rider, all combined to produce a last corner slipstream/acceleration masterstroke that put the finishing touch on one helluva weird, wild and heart-stopping Estoril race) that Elias is a top-tier rider. Maybe he'll even have the rare 5th or 6th, but I can't imagine a podium, let alone a win.

I'm totally surprised (I never got the memo) that RdP (or, as Nick Harris says, "RRRRANdydepuniet") had considered moving to Suzuki. That, to me, is perilously close to being absolutely identical to Hopper's move to Kawasaki. Everyone knew that the Kawi was a career killer, but Hopper was keen to make some cash, so he knowingly went to a team that was spine-tinglingly horrific. With all the noise that Suzuki has made about maybe (just like Kawasaki) pulling out of Moto GP altogether, to say nothing about what an awful bike it is (Bautista is getting more from it than I ever thought possible), and a top-10 rider actually gives it a thought? While you have an offer to ride a Honda? What? I just cannot fathom that. Maybe he has given up on ever being on the podium again, and he has some huge gambling debts to members of the mafia. Whatever it is, if I was in Moto GP, they couldn't pay me enough to go and ride for a team that is the poster child of awful bikes. Sorry, Randy, but that was a bad move.

So, Elias may get another podium someday (provided the aliens and Ben, Nicky, and Dovi are abducted by aliens), but he'll never win another race. Not in Moto GP. No way. And Randy? Well, he's going to a bike and a squad that (up until now) might as well have the grim reaper painted on the fairings, along with tombstones bearing the names of all who have ridden the satellite Duc...and whose Moto GP careers have died as a result of it.

Or, I may be completely wrong. :)

Elias has got heart. He is a true racer. He is a Spies or a Rossi in that he usually emerges victorious from the last lap scrap. He is absolutely incredible on the brakes. Second only to Rossi in that department now that Barros has retired.

His victory over Rossi in Estoril 2006 cost Rossi the championship. (He also knocked Rossi down at the season opener in Jerez that year) and Rossi has done nothing but compliment him. That respect from Rossi in those circumstances should be enough for everyone to understand why he is a worthy MotoGP ride.

Randy has been holding out for that Suzuki ride. I'm not surprised Lucio has taken up the option of Elias. It will be interesting to see if a sebatical in Moto2 will be sufficient preparation for another crack at MotoGP.
Very sad for the girls out there though! The Lucio / RdP combination sure packed a punch on the eye candy front.

on that day in estoril? according to the michelin guys, he got lucky and was the only one on a particular tire that happened to be the right tire to ride that day.

as for the ducati being the last stop before being banished from moto gp- that's just circumstance. let's just say that the last stop before leaving moto gp is generally on a satellite team. look at bayliss and toseland- not riding ducatis, but satellite bikes. it's rare for a rider to go from a factory ride to obscurity. it's usually slow slide backwards from factory, to satellite, to wsbk or worse...