Another Sponsor Pulls Out - Kenny Noyes' Jack&Jones Team Folds

The Moto2 entry list remains a work in progress, as teams granted starting places struggle with finding sponsorship, and alter their entries accordingly. The latest victim of sponsorship woes is the longest named team on the grid, the Jack&Jones By Antonio Banderas Racing team. The Jack&Jones squad had signed Kenny Noyes and Gabor Talmacsi to campaign the 2011 season, but after their title sponsor, the urban clothing brand Jack&Jones, decided to pull out of racing sponsorship, the team has been left without sufficient funds to continue.

Rather than risk failing to find sufficient funds to contest the 2011 season and leave riders and crew no time to find employment elsewhere in the paddock, team boss Dani Devahive decided to pull the plug on the project now, giving Noyes, Talmacsi and the rest of the team four months to find places elsewhere. "This was probably the hardest decision I've ever taken in the ten years I've been in the paddock," Devahive told Motociclismo. "Antonio Banderas and I both had high hopes for this project, but the lack of a viable economic future forced us to take this hard decision." The withdrawal of the team leaves the 2011 Moto2 grid without an American rider, unless Kenny Noyes can find a ride in another team.

The disbanding of the Jack&Jones squad brings an ambitious project to an end. At Barcelona, Spanish superstar actor Antonio Banderas had spoken of his hopes of moving up to the MotoGP class in a few years, and the team were reckoned to be one of the most solid in the paddock. The collapse of the team is clear evidence of the risks involved in Moto2, risks which have caused almost every team in the Moto2 paddock to become incredibly defensive and conservative.

The Jack&Jones squad had gambled on using the Harris Moto2 chassis, a gamble that went badly wrong. While Moto2 was meant to be a level playing field, with a spec engine and only the chassis making the difference, most people believed that there would be little to choose between the bikes, and the class would mainly be a test of rider skill. That has been true for the most part, with the strengths and weaknesses of the main chassis players - FTR, Suter, Moriwaki - producing a well-balanced contest.

But that has not been true for all of the chassis builders. Some, such as MZ, NCR and RSV, got the chassis wrong in one aspect or another, and have been left struggling a couple of seconds off the pace, or in the case of the RSV, dumped by the teams using the chassis within a couple of races. The fewer the bikes a chassis builder has on the grid, the more development has suffered. Only the Motobi (a revised TSR chassis) has managed to score regular points among the smaller manufacturers, with most of that down to Alex de Angelis rather than the bike.

The Harris chassis appears to have been a similar case. The strength of the Harris was its stability under braking, an asset which Kenny Noyes put to good use at the ultimate stop-and-go circuit, Le Mans, taking pole for that race. What the Harris did less well was turn, or hold a line in long, fast sweepers, as the Jack&Jones team found to their dismay at Mugello. That lack of turning, coupled with a lack of rear grip - Randy Mamola described the bike as "like riding with oil on the tire" after trying the machine at Valencia - left Noyes and his teammate, former 125 and 250 star Joan Olive constantly down in the bottom 15 places. Those results are most likely what pushed Jack&Jones over the edge, and led to the decision to withdraw their title sponsorship of the team.

It is easy to point the finger of blame at the riders rather than the chassis, but both Noyes and Olive have had success in their previous classes. Olive scored multiple podiums in the 125cc class, his best championship finish being 7th in the highly competitive class in 2008. Noyes was runner up in the Spanish Formula Extreme championship in 2009, the Spanish equivalent of Superbikes. At the right track, Noyes showed himself capable of running with the top Moto2 riders, until his tires gave up on him, leading the race at Jerez, and bagging pole at Le Mans.

Noyes' and Olive's results highlight another problem with Moto2. Because of the size of the grid, scoring points can be extremely difficult. In the 125cc class, the regular riders can be sure of scoring a handful of points, if only due to attrition by the other 26-odd riders. In Moto2, with starting grids of 40+, scoring points becomes extremely difficult outside of the top teams on good equipment, as there are so many riders battling for the final points. Those points generate income for the team, both in terms of sponsorship and in terms of financial support from Dorna.

The grid size turned points scoring into something of a lottery. Winner of the Sepang Moto2 race Roby Rolfo also managed to score no points in 10 of the 17 Moto2 races. Pons Kalex rider Sergio Gadea had a 2nd place finish at Mugello, but also had 9 other races scoring no points at all. Consistency was the preserve of the very few, as even Andrea Iannone, who ended 3rd in the Moto2 championship, had three finishes scoring 4 points or less, as well as four no-scores. Look at the points scoring for the 125cc class, and riders tend to score the points roughly equivalent to where they finished in the championship. Look at the points scoring for Moto2, and apart from Toni Elias and Julian Simon, points appear to be distributed almost at random.

With 40 riders on the grid, and points awarded apparently at random, results are hard to come by in Moto2. Add in a chassis lacking in one area or another, and points become almost as rare as unicorn droppings. No points mean no sponsorship, and competent teams and strong riders being forced to drop out. With the cost of failure so much higher in Moto2 than in the other classes, the teams are all turning deeply conservative. The example of teams that gambled in 2010 - teams such as Jack&Jones - has scared everyone into playing it safe, hence the 2011 grid is dominated by Suter, FTR and (to a lesser extent) Moriwaki. Gambling on something new that might pay off in the future is no longer an option.

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It seems to me Dorna should revise the points scoring system for Moto2 so points can be awarded down to 25th position. And perhaps giving a point for every team that finishes a race, this way even teams who are always outside the top 25 will have some points to show the sponsors at the end of the season.

Another idea is to allow the teams in the bottom 1/3 of the points table another (optional) hour of practice on race weekends. This could be incorporated into a domestic support race practice session like super sport or super stock

There are times when I start to feel very old!

In my youth GP grids were regularly around the 40 mark in 50/80, 125, 250, 350 AND 500 classes. At that time there were only points down to tenth place with the winner getting 15 points. In an effort to get riders further down the results sheet to keep racing to the end, the current points system was introduced (about 25 years ago I'd guess) giving the winner 25 points and so on down to 15th position.

If anything I'd be arguing for a return to the old points scoring system unless there were at least 30 riders on the start line. Otherwise, as someone else alludes to here, you'll get a medal just for turning up; heck I could score points in some rounds of motoGP on my 800 S2R Ducati! (OK I couldn't get within the 110% rule but I could ride 80 miles without breaking down/falling off)


Is kinda like those medals that everyone gets when they have served in the Army for 5/10/however many years. If almost everyone gets one they're not so special, are they? The sponsors will know to subtract 1 point per round to get the true value of the points balance. It might make things worse if your calculated score is in the negatives.

True, but look at NASCAR where they award points for just qualifying, let alone starting a race. They certainly are not lacking for sponsors. Bean counters want to see numbers and even if those numbers mean nothing they mean something to the people who write the checks.

(which means it will never happen) would be to have a one or two day practice session after each GP. Then teams that were off the pace in the race weekend would have baseline laptimes to shoot for and with no time pressure, hopefully could gain set-up understanding that would stand them in better stead at following races.

The practice ban ( like the Moto GP 21l fuel limit ) is self defeating.

No results = no publicity = no sponsor.

its a bit of a viscious circle. you need to be doing well to get sponsorship (money) but to do well you need to throw a whole lot of money at things.
apart from the logistical nightmare more practice would make it harder for the poorer teams to stretch their budget.

That's not good to hear. Wasn't the idea of a spec engine supposed to be to reduce costs for Moto2? Still tough times... although there are still 40+ bikes looking to be on the grid next year? So many bikes on the grid, yet at the same time it's a precarious situation for teams that don't play it super-safe and have a winning chassis. Strange times.

Where is all that Hungarian money Talmasci brought to MotoGP with him in 2009?
Bummer anyway.

its a shame for kenny and joan but is moto2 really that precarious?
i thought it was relatively cheap to run a team in the championship (not including rider salaries) and field is still HUGE, i personally wouldnt like to be mid pack in turn one!
anytime a manufacturer leaves grand prix racing its a shame. but it seems like the great majority of the manufacturers were going down the UJM path anyway. twin spar aluminum cbr's with edgier geometry.
it wouldve been nice to see carbon frames, hub centre steer etc. i wish dorna could somehow adapt the rules to encourage innovation as well as refinement

Despite the size of the grid and the point scoring sytem, the cream will rise to the top. Moto2 is the prime feeder class for MotoGP after all. With that being said, we must allow some time for the class to settle. At the beginning, some teams will inevitably make bad choices and will have to suffer the consequences. Jack & Jones is a prime example. Now if the talent is there, riders, team managers, and mechanics alike will land on their feet and find a new home.

IRTA bond to enter a team in Moto 2.What ? 20 thousand dollars. Main sponsor pulls out and Devahive forfeits at the drop of a hat. Now,had that bond been considerably larger,they would have been fighting tooth and claw for new sponsorship rather than fold.
Really hope Kenny and Gabor get a ride somewhere next year in Moto 2.
Nevertheless,in M2's case,I'm definitely in favour of a smaller,say 28 bike grid.
A considerably larger forfeit will go a long way in that direction.
In all fairness M2 was in an experimental year and it was a huge success.
When Moto 3 comes on line I expect that the junior classes will be very well sorted in terms of powerplants,available chassis' and sponsorship.
Will miss 125,but they have to go. Outlived its 'sell by' date.

This is bad news, David.
I really hope both riders still find a seat.

Without knowing the state of the balance sheet it's hard to comment accurately. However surely the team principal has had talks with the principal sponsor and other chassis manufacturers, and surely the results the team did achieve displayed the abilities of their contracted riders. A shame, but it sounds like there are a number of teams ready to step into their void.

It doesn't surprise me that they folded the team Antonio isn't that rich that he could bankroll the team until and alternte sponsor was found.Courting sponsors is VERY time consuming work often for no result.It also robs precious resources from at team that should be getting on with racing. The real worry is with 1 or 2 dominant frame manufacturers the price will go up and up and up till sales drop off.

...I cheered for Kenny Noyes.

...I told my kids, hey look, that's Antonio Banderas.

And for the first time ever today, I learned that Jack&Jones is an urban clothing brand.

I'm sure there's a point there somewhere.

Unfortunately, it seems that for outside industry sponsors, there is little ROI in sponsoring a team in motorcycle racing, unless the visibility is very high indeed.

I would love to know what the metrics are, which are shown to prospective sponsors. If they are anything like what I am used to seeing, it would be quite understandable as to why no one wishes to sponsor a team that isn't running at the front, or continually driving business to said sponsor. As an aside, the only non-motorcycle industry advertising (in the US) that uses racing motorcycles is Xerox leveraging their Ducati ties.

Obviously the truly unfortunate consequence to all this is the loss of a competitive team and rider. Hopefully these guys will find a way to go racing somewhere else. Kenny seems like a decent guy and is a hell of a racer.