Silly Season's Opening Shots: Can Yamaha Sign Pol Espargaro?

The 2013 MotoGP season has only just got underway, but as is seemingly customary in MotoGP now, thoughts are already turning to next year. With eight of the twelve men on factory prototypes on two-year contracts, the most attractive seats already appear to be taken. There is no room for any movement at either the factory Yamaha or factory Honda teams, and only one seat potentially available at the factory Ducati team. Both satellite Honda seats are taken for 2014, as is Bradley Smith's seat at the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team.

Despite this, there are some intriguing possibilities being played out. The most desirable seat still left is almost certainly the second Monster Tech 3 Yamaha seat currently occupied by Cal Crutchlow. Despite the Englishman's outstanding performance since last year, Crutchlow may not be able to hold on to his seat. There have been credible reports since 2012 that Yamaha have a keen interest in Moto2 title favorite Pol Espargaro, and in the run up to the season opener at Qatar, rumors emerged that Espargaro is already in talks with Yamaha for 2014.

With both factory seats taken, however, the only place where Yamaha could place Espargaro is in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, and with Bradley Smith already on a two-year contract with the French squad, that leaves Crutchlow's seat as the only option. When asked by at Austin whether he was in talks with Espargaro for next year, Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal denied both the suggestion, and that he had any interest in the young Spaniard. "I will never sign a contract with Pol Espargaro," Poncharal replied in response to our questions. Poncharal was less certain about the option of Espargaro being placed in the Tech 3 team directly by Yamaha, as they have the right to do under their contract with Poncharal, admitting he would have no control over the matter in that case. Though Poncharal is already happy with his current line up, sources have confirmed that Yamaha and Tech 3 have already had conversations about Espargaro, though the outcome of those conversations is unknown. 

Where does this leave Cal Crutchlow? The Englishman has been impressive in both pre-season testing and in the first two races of the year, and is believed to be keen to stay where he is, unless an opportunity to ride for a factory team opens up. With only Nicky Hayden on a one-year contract, that would leave only Ducati, or possibly Suzuki, when they make their long-awaited return to the series. Joining Suzuki would be a risk, given that it is not yet known just how competitive the bike will be. That will only become apparent at the first public test of the bike in Barcelona, in a month's time.

Ducati, on the other hand, could be a better bet, given the progress being made on developing the Desmosedici. Though 2013 will be a tough year for the Italian marque, 2014 looks a lot more promising. The complicating factor there is that the US is such an important market for Ducati, and they may want to retain an American rider to help promote the brand, something which Nicky Hayden does tirelessly for them. If Ben Spies' results improve over the coming year, that could satisfy Ducati North America's needs, especially if Hayden were to move to World Superbikes with Ducati and race there. That move would have the blessing of Dorna as well, as having a famous American racing in World Superbikes would help raise the profile of that series in the US as well.

The question is, just how reliable are all these rumors? Will Espargaro move to Tech 3, or Crutchlow switch to Suzuki, or Hayden go to World Superbikes? It is far too early for any real decisions to be made. One thing is for certain: the second seat in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team is currently MotoGP's hottest property, and a protracted battle between an established and successful rider like Cal Crutchlow and gambling on a young, upcoming rider like Pol Espargaro is likely to be fought out over the heads of the riders.

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Crutchlow has reached, or is very close to his peak potential. If he can eleminate some of the unforced errors under pressure, he will run with the top guys to the end of races. A good factory ride could also shave the extra 0.1-0.3 seconds to make him a regular podium finisher.
The dilemma is that Pol Espargaro has the potential to be as good, if not better than Cal, but with the added longivity factor. Unfortunately, the end of the road is close for Rossi, and Lorenzo will need some help in the future to neutralize Marquez and whomever HRC decides to put on the Repsol bike.
I hate to say it, but Yamaha cannot let Pol go to HRC. They can either convince him to stay one more year in Moto2, or loose Cal. Than again, Cal's departure may come back to hunt them, if he secures a good Honda or a competitive Ducati.
Either way, very difficult decision!

Indeed, Aleix is outclassing the other ART riders. His results on the Ducati were not nearly as impressing. I don't know what kind of support he was getting from Ducati, but his peformance on the Pramac was on par with the other satellite bikes. Compared to his brother, Pol seems to have that fighting at the top mentality and experience. I might be wrong, but I don't recall Aleix winning any races in the lower classes. I'm not even sure why he was offered the Ducati ride in the first place.

I think someone needs to take a chance on Aliex, too. He's carrying enormous corner speed on that ART and consistently beating some of the prototype guys. I feel he's grown as a rider and done enough to warrent another chance. Unfortunately, the M1 might suit him best but it's unlikely he'll get a shot there. Maybe Suzuki will throw him a bone.

"and consistently beating some of the prototype guys"

Care to enlighten us as to which prototype he has consistently beaten?

He beat Spies at Le Mans in 2012 - the only time he finished ahead of a prototype that year - but Spies was riding a dog.

This year he finished ahead of Smith in his second race and rode a spirited ride to sixth in Jerez - beating a handful of prototypes, all of which looked like they had tyre issues.

So if by 'consistently beating some of the prototypes' you mean three times, once in 2012 and once this year it was a rookie on his second ride ever, then yeah, I suppose he has...

But, I suspect he is at his level - just like De Puniet.

They have both been around forever - you think if they were really THAT good, that team managers would have worked it out by now. That they haven't managed to break into a (or retain in RdPs case) a decent ride says that the paddock knows something you (and I) don't.

This is the competition for the very, very best riders. Just because he doesn't get a factory ride doesn't necessarily mean he is hard done by - just that there is too little talent around for an even fewer number of factory prototype seats... and he just doesn't make it into that class.

Neither does Smith, come to that, but I am sure that will change soon - with his demotion to one of the new Yamaha CRTs for next year.

In 10 years Aleix has precisely one solitary Moto2 podium.

What exactly has he done to warrant a satellite gig? When they raced together in moto2 in 2011, by the time the end of the season came along, his brother (in his first Moto2 season) was beating him regularly and doubled Aleix's count of podiums - he went on to take second in the championship with four wins, 11 podiums in total.

There is no question Pol is the better rider. No question at all.

if Herve loses Cal he has no one to blame but himself for giving Smith that contract. It would be a shame if Cal gets left out in the cold. I can't see him at Factory Ducati - if they really wanted him they would have sign him for this year. I think the Suzuki is gonna be a dud the first year. And Lord knows the satellite Ducatis have been nothing but a death sentence.

With Marquez and Bradl signed to HRC and Iannone to Ducati, Yamaha have to sign a rider they think could challenge right at the front in the future.

I am not sure how much they trust Cal, particularly off track and, comparatively, he is 'old'. Cal has done great vs expectations but has far from seemed able to string a campaign together. The same is true of Scott Redding. The 'noise' each made over their perceived treatment by Ducati will scare Yamaha, I suspect. The fact that Pol has remained resolutely tight lipped despite probably many negotiations occurring behind the scenes is in stark contrast to Cal's running commentary and both his and Scott's, understandable but vocal unhappiness.

All this says to me is that we need more prototypes in the series - why should great riders like Crutchlow be sacrificed for back-room machinations? The money is there, despite what the MSMA and Dorna would have us believe.

Nothing against the Espargaro's who are sensational riders and I'd love to see both on prototypes. But then there's a bunch of other fast riders in Moto2 who should have some sort of career path open to them that doesn't involve retirement of a current rider.

Show us the money! Stop with all the cost-cutting crap, it's clearly a red herring to divert attention from the ride fixing that is going on. No wonder Casey pulled the pin.

Ducati are like the Chicago Cubs of MotoGp racing "Just wait to next year"........

More and more comments like v4racer's are making the point that the are not enough competitive rides in MotoGP.
Rider selection is traditionally a market influenced chose for factories and with the downturn in the Med. economies Crutchlow may just be able to retain his place. I feel a lot depends on the "production" racers Honda will bring in 2014 as to who will ride for who. I also think that quite a few riders will need to recalibrate their career timetables due to the dearth of competitive rides in MotoGP. We are already seeing more experienced winning riders giving MotoGP a pass because once you start just making up the numbers to be in the show you gets bogged down and your chances of advancing to a factory ride become slim to none. If Crutchlow is in a tight position the Espargaro brothers, as brilliant as they are, are too!

Aren't Yamaha supplying motors for CRT's next year? Perhaps Pol or Cal could be headed that way?

Regardless of how good and talented both the Espargaro brothers are, Dorna needs more Spaniards on factory or satellite seats like a whole in the head.

Spanish-centricity is still a problem with the universal appeal of MotoGP. Politics will come into play here, and unless they are replacing existing Spanish riders then both the Espargaro's will probably miss out on top rides.

I expect to be flamed but the reality is that Yamaha/Dorna created the problem by bringing Rossi back on to the factory bike. He decided that he could do better on the Ducati, he didn't and like the other older guys should have departed due to his failure, to WSBK.

With so much talent coming through there is no room for guys to hang around and have their swan song and for Dorna to milk the last bit of TV audience out of them.

I have said fora long time that Dorna needs to foster new talent, new heros rather than keep milking the old ones. Rossi has had his go, 7 WC's surely is enough. Likewise, Hayden has more than had his go.

Many said that Stoner was weak but his leaving after he thought he had has his go opened the door for the next guy. MotoGP needs to keep opening doors for the next guy.

Rossi has earned his seat back with Yamaha. Not gonna flame you but the season is 2 races in.
The racer with more wins in history in the premier class needs to go? I think Qatar proved otherwise.

The problem isn't Rossi as some of you always want to punt to due to your fixation with him. The problem is the lack of factory participation in MotoGp. And that is due to the high cost the Japanese have pushed the sport to with all their sophisticated rules, electronics, and programmers.

Like a few people before me have said, Aleix surely deserves a prototype bike after what he has shown this and last year in the ART bike. He is beating RDP fair and square this year and RDP is the guy rumored to be testing the Suzuki this season. If Suzuki wanted a fast European rider, then surely Aleix makes more of a case than RDP?

I think the ideal team for Suzuki if they come to play next year would be Cal and Aleix. Both fast, experienced and still not quite yet in their prime with room to improve!

As for POL, I agree he is talented, fast all that...but is he THAT GOOD to draw Yamaha's attention for placing him somewhere? I am not so sure. He could develop into a very good racer in the mold of Bradl. But if Yamaha is looking for the next Lorenzo/Marquez, I am not quite sure about that yet.

But even so, if Yamaha wanted to place him somewhere, then may be the rumored Kalex/FTR Yamaha proddie racer for next year is an option for a rookie that needs to be considered? For one, its much cheaper for Yamaha to foot the bill than the leased bikes at Tech3. May be Pons could be interested in a way back to Motogp through the proddie racer route? And given the indifference of Herve to Pol, it appears like there will be a lot of pushback from Tech3 even if Yamaha wanted to place him there.

Lastly on the topic of the proddie racers, the more I think about them the more I see that by 2015 either the leased bikes or the production racers themselves will be dead in the water. An ART bike today costs half of what a proddie racer is gonna cost and only 2.5 seconds away from the P1 bike. A leased Yamaha/Honda costs 2-3 times the cost of a proddie racer bike and is 0.5-1 sec right now from a P1 bike.

Which means the window of performance where Honda and Yamaha will have to engineer their production racer's performance is between 1-2 seconds off of the lead bike so as not to cannibalize their own lease bikes! What are the odds of placing a bike exactly right there? And assuming Honda and Yamaha did that it would mean you are at a performance disadvantage to the satellite bikes, which in turn means you are again fighting for positions 12-21 or 14-23 depending on Suzuki's plans!

Why would you spend 2x the money as ART exactly fight for the same positions?! On the flip side, if the bikes were as fast as the satellites the how will Gresini/Tech3/LCR feel?! And why the heck will they continue leasing in 2015?!!

I thought about this while watching the Assen WSBK race (after having watched the COTA MotoGP race the week before): My favorite rider's been NH since I started watching racing a few+ years ago. It's clear to me that without a Honda or Yamaha factory bike, he's not going to win a race in the dry, and neither will any other rider not on those 4 bikes (I don't even pretend that with today's crop of riders, that a satellite rider on a "factory" spec bike will do it, either). On the Ducati, he's clearly never going to reach a podium in GP again barring a calamity of crashers and it's probably wet.

So, I really hope that next year he goes to WSBK on something, *anything* other than a Ducati. Checa isn't even coming close to the front, and he's still a fantastic rider. When factories come out with new models, it's supposed to put them on the top of the pile against all the other factories that are fielding 2-5+ year old bikes. (see how Kawasaki with the amazing Tom Sykes brought the ZX-10R to the front in it's first year, and should have won the title in the second after it's updated-model-debut).

JRea is riding the paint off of the ancient Fireblade, but there's only so much he can do against the other bikes, because Honda clearly put all of their eggs in the GP basket. How would everyone judge Honda if they updated the Fireblade and it was not better than their current bike? They'd be lambasted. Ducati bringing that pig of a panigale is nothing new, however, and I really don't want to see the same old tragedy with NHayden on it next year.

[eagerly awaiting the flames, I'm sure someone will dissect and school me with statistics to show my comments are out of hand, and I welcome it!]

While you're probably right to a degree, there is the dreaded "performance balancing" in WSBK to remember. I don't follow it closely enough to comment, but the twins do have to run a restrictor IIRC. From what little I see their main problem is hp, and I'm guessing the restrictor is not helping matters.

I never heard of the Ducatis being restricted in WSBK, they had a weight penalty and had to carry balast on the 1198. The Panigale has no weight penalty. Its worth noting too that the Panigales are doing well in Superstock.

Same as the Beemers.... kicked ass in supertock but once the competition got the SBK parts and tuning then the advantage was cut.

Ducati has been required to run a restriction on the inlet tract since the 1200cc limit was granted to them... I believe the inlet is restricted to 50mm... which definitely impacts their top end horsepower.

And it effects the panigale worse than the 1198 because the new bike is designed to make more power up top with less mid range. Higher revving means more air needed and yet it is getting less than what it is designed for.

Pol is a talent and Yamaha is doing what it needs to do to secure his services, understandable.
Cal may just get that factory ride he feels he deserves, unfortunately it won't be one that will win him a championship.
Hopefully Hayden will take his natural Superbike skills to WSBK and give us 'Merican's someone to root for there. Just please, oh please not on a Ducati unless the "performance balance" has a change for next year. Obviously the Panigale can be competitive as evidence of this past weekend's Assen SuperStock round.

On March 24, David Emmett reported, as part of a larger story: "This lack of support, in Crutchlow's eyes, could have consequences. If Yamaha needed help to fend off the challenges from Marquez and Pedrosa, Crutchlow was not inclined to be supportive. "I have no interest in helping anyone," Crutchlow said. "Why should I? I'm not contracted to Yamaha."


is his own enemy. I'm sure the reason he doesn't have the factory Ducati ride is because he talked his way out of it by shooting off to the media every chance he got.

If I remember right Dawg, you were on Cals case saying he didn't deserve a ride in GP and would be "wibbly wobbling" around at the back..Spies was going to show him up for the fraud he was?

A big mouth and very, very average record doesn't seem to have done Edwards any harm.

Is trying to burn the only bridge he never burned by getting a ride with Suzuki! He would be a top development rider for them with a few wild cards this year, as lets face it Nobu would just circulate at the back with the CRT's, however good the bike might be. That would shake the tree a bit. Maybe Chubby will come back too.

problem is its WSBK air restrictors - they are limited on the size of the air intake trumpets. Otherwise, they would probably be up with the fast boys.

Are these restrictors specific to Ducati? If they are, then the restriction should be revised once the Ducati struggles to perform for a few more races? If everyone has them then its Ducatis fault for not designing around it.

I can totally understand Yamahas thinking. They are scared about Marquez and need a replacement for Rossi in the wings. I'd love to see Cal get the factory ride but as someone else said he is already relatively old and he's not from the favored heritage. I don't mean nationality but he's not a GP man. Yamaha just have to look at the stats and see how many GP champions have come from WSBK and how many have come through the smaller GP classes. Unfortunately I don't think Cal would get the seat ahead of a Moto 2 champion (if he wins it). But.... if Pol doesn't dominate this year then I think its all up for grabs. Maybe Yamaha can afford to wait for the next big thing.... Vinales? Rins? Baby Marquez?

Crutchlow has impressed me lately, and I usually tune out to counter the blind patriotism/propaganda of the commentators - though usually because of their ridiculous endorsements for Smith, especially in contrast to Redding whom I thought was far superior in Moto2 yet received comparatively little air time.

However, let's face facts: Dovi beat the pants off Cal last year on the same machinery. Now Dovi is withering away in Ducati land and Crutchlow is the best non-factory rider, on arguably the best satellite bike in the field. I don't want to discount him (too much) but if he's not nipping at the heels of the top 4, it's fair to say it would be a disappointment.

Considering Dovi's performance on the factory Honda, and his superiority to Crutchlow, what exactly is Cal's potential on factory equipment?

I believe Cal and anyone-other-than-Smith should be in that team. Pol, Aleix, and even RdP should all be on prototype equipment but, alas, resources are not infinite.

I think Cal has done very well, and the thing that has impressed me the most about Cal is that he has tried very hard to learn what he needs to do to be a top 3 rider. Compared with those Brits who have gone before him! He broke himself severely several times in his first year, and learnt there was something more to it than just twisting the right hand.
So he studied the data of other riders, followed the riders and looked at what they did, esp. Jorge and adjusted his style accordingly and got faster and faster without falling off. The features he has to master now is plan B and what to do if he gets passed, master how to regroup and get back again, without binning it or running off as he still does regularly and improve his braking 2/3%. If he can master that by mid season, he may surprise us even more by the end.
Can you remember Jorge's first season, always very fast but he spent a lot of time in orbit, he learned that lesson and improved and Cal has used that to make the most of his chance. Dovi has a lot of experience in all levels of GP riding, especially using the brakes, which goes a lot of the way to why he could be ahead of Cal last year, most of the time.
Lets see if he can finish in a Yam 123 at Jerez.
Forza Vale!

I wonder if the second year of Smith's contract couldn't be bought out to open up that seat. Also for Cal although jumping on a new Suzuki may be risky it would have it's benefits. He'd get major input on development as he'd be the #1 rider and compared to the Ducati...well by years end we'll know where the Ducati stands and if they've closed any ground on Honda and Yamaha. I think a completely new Ducati may have got them closer to the front that evolving the GP11 and GP12 into the GP13 the way they have. Also wasn't there rumors of a possible BMW team?

Yes, there were more deserving riders than Smith for the Tech3 ride. However, since he's there we should give him a chance to grow. The kid obviously has some talents. Cal wasn't impressive during his first year, and several critics wanted him out. He's grown into a very fast rider.
Out of the 20 or so riders in MotoGP, less than 20% of them are top tier performers, about 60% in the second tier, and the rest of them are more or less at the same level. For now Smith is in that last group. With hard work he surely can stay clear of the relegation group. I don't think anyone expect him to become Marquez or Lorenzo.

Uppili, you make a good point about the positioning of factory proddie racers. I've mentioned before that for the money Yamaha want for an engine LEASE there would seem to be few teams that could afford them. I think Yamaha made this offer to appease Dorna and isn't really interested in placing any engines with private teams. If private teams can afford the Honda prod. racer and it is clearly better than the CRT bikes I would expect Dorna to swiftly amend the tech regs. to prod. racer specs and encourage Aprilia, Suzuki, BMW and Kawasaki to build bikes to this formula and promise them rules stability for a good number of seasons, providing they sell the bikes versus leasing them.
As for evaluating riders, if you are not on one of the four factory seats in MotoGP you are not going to have good results, period. Dovisioso versus Crutchlow, that is a fair comparison if you only use the seasons Dovi was on non-factory rides. It is the same as comparing Pol Espargaro in Moto2 against Marquez in MotoGP, they are in two different classes!

"Dovisioso versus Crutchlow, that is a fair comparison if you only use the seasons Dovi was on non-factory rides. It is the same as comparing Pol Espargaro in Moto2 against Marquez in MotoGP, they are in two different classes!"

I thought he was comparing Dovi and Cal when they were in the same team!?

You're correct Orangespoon. My comment was directed at a more general comparison of riders, I just used Dovi and Cal as an example. I understood that mrslave was comparing these two riders during their Tech3 period.

I think Crutchlow should be able to stay with Yamaha. He talks a lot, but he has shown more maturity and mental fortitude on that Tech 3 Yamaha than a whole boat load of people in Motogp. He has steadily gotten better. Do I think he is or will be an Alien, no. But he is a good solid rider for a team and can get good solid points for the Team Championship. If anyone needs to be booted from Yamaha it is Bradley Smith. Mrslave said earlier, whoever his Manager is, is definitely worth every penny. That man is right. He is the one of the most over rated riders I have ever seen, nice guy, likeable, but his skills....

Pol deserves his seat (Bradley Smith), at the minimum, at maximum is Rossi retires (which I HIGHLY doubt), and Pol goes in there.

Pol has shown that his talent is similar and sometimes more than Marquez. And he has proven it on a bike that was less funded outfit that the one Marquez was with. He beat Marquez heads up plenty of times on what some would say was less capable equipment. With the right machinery in Motogp he could do the same thing. His brother Aleix is good, but he has not shown raw speed like his Pol. Yes top of the non prototypes, (and beats some prototypes), but his brother is a proven winner against Marquez. Even if you are a doubter of Marquez, the way he just won the last race has shown he has many years of potential domination ahead of him. If a Yamaha is banking on the future like Honda, the obvious choice from past races between Marquez and Espargaro show that those two are the future and are both on another planet when they race. 2012 was a great Moto2 season because of those two.

Pol deserves a prototype that is not Ducati. Crutchlow has ran his mouth too much sometimes but has proven to be a racer that has become more and more of a force as time goes on.

It's quite amusing that we as followers of motorcycle racing seem to have been indoctrinated into the anodyne world of bland corporate Formula 1 style bulls88t.

When did we stop liking hard charging riders who run their mouths as hard as their bikes? When Doohan got kicked out of a lap dancing bar for fighting with the bouncers I chuckled and thought 'proper rider, he's still got it'

The teams are more media savvy than we are; a mouth that people cant wait to see open can be used to their advantage. Look at Rossi, he swears on camera continually and gets away with it, not because he's the alleged GOAT but because he comes across as a cheeky chap who say what ever comes into his head.

The public like that. We should like that.

Tech 3 probably got more license money from merchandise sales last year than they have ever had before, and it probably had little to do with Dovi even though he's a real class act on a motorcycle - having a cheeky chap can be as profitable as getting results........

I don't think for one minute that Cal has reached his peak!
He is in his third year on a prototype and every time he rides the bike he shows us more and more that he is capable of running at the sharp end.
Dovisioso has always ridden GP's on top level machinery, all of his top level years have been on factory prototypes and yet Cal was able to run him close last year and beat him on several occasions.
That is no criticism of Dovi, he is a fine rider but I have a strong feeling that Cal will surprise us even more this year and it would be a crime for Yamaha to put another member of the Spanish Armada on a prototype.
Maybe we need a British rider with the name Frank Drake, or perhaps we still haven't been forgiven for that little skirmish?

Anyone who remembers this race remembers the utter domination Pol displayed that day. He attacked that track like the one an only CS27. Surely he deserves a top motoGP slot if he wins the championship this year.

Let's not forget Honda has already snatched the last two Moto2 World Champions, Bradl and Marquez, both of whom are showing excellent form on RCVs. If Yamaha doesn't respond, they will be at a major dissadvantage for the future. Jorge is the champion, and will be very very good for quite a while, not to mention his demeanor suggests he'll be racing for quite a while. But Vale on the other hand, we really need to see how well he can stay in the standings, I like many others, are hoping the european tracks he knows so well will propel him back to the front 4 where he should be.

Yamaha really really needs to consider supporting the satellite team with factory bits in an effort to help take points away from Honda in the championship.

Those discounting Cal, I couldn't disagree more. He is outriding the Sat Hondas and one of them has that trick seamless gearbox. His results are outstanding. He has proved he is worthy of MotoGP, even if you don't like him. He speaks the truth when he is interviewed and is PR friendly. He has certainly earned a factory seat and has improved from last year. Put him on a competitive factory bike and he is a podium contender and possible race winner every weekend. He is not too old for the sport by any means. I don't think he has even peaked yet. These bikes aren't 500's and that has affected age. With modern training, diet, etc, these guys can be competitive for many years. Why everyone seems to drink the fountain of youth escapes me. A 40 year old won WSBK last year and their lap times aren't far off from GP bikes.

Get off Cal's back. He has rightfully earned his place, and done it on Satellite equipment. Cal's only problem is the lack of factory seats in GP. His first 2 races this year were very impressive. He was right there with the Repsols in Qatar and wasn't very far from Jorge at COTA.

The hypercritical on him is baffling when he's riding his arse off and producing solid results for a Sat bike. Very impressive.

It is obvious. Cal should stay and sign after 2013 another 2 year deal with YAMAHA or with Poncheral. Be careful with him. He is defenitely a very fast rider and showing some real stability to now. Smith on the other hand has absolutely NO business in MotoGP. Herve Poncheral should give Smith in his second year a M1 lease engine in a FTR frame. Just to please him because that is even too much for him. But the TECH3 seat he currently holds should go to somebody with potential. There are a lot. Not only the Espargaro brothers. I would even put Sam Lowes there in favor to Smith.