Silly Season Latest: Espargaro's 600,000 Euro Decision, Hayden Closing On Aspar, Spies Out For 2013

Though the factory seats in MotoGP are all filled, the prime seats on the non-factory entries are still open. Top favorites among the riders are the NGM Forward team, with the leased and FTR-kitted Yamaha M1s, and the Aspar team, which will be running factory-backed Aprilias, though not as an official factory team. These four are the most competitive of the non-factory bikes, and any rider dreaming at a shot of a return to a factory ride, with Suzuki in 2015 perhaps, will want to be on board one of these bikes.

At the moment, there are two lynchpins around which all of the rest of the choices revolve. Aleix Esparagaro is the rider garnering the most interest from teams, unsurprisingly given just how competitive the Spaniard has been on the Aspar ART machine. Espargaro's problem is that he already has a contract for 2014, guaranteed by Aspar if he ends the season as the best CRT finisher. Given that he is 41 points of the next CRT rider - Colin Edwards of NGM Forward - not succeeding in that goal looks increasingly unlikely.

And so Espargaro is tied to Aspar. But Espargaro is being tempted by the Yamahas of NGM Forward, and is keen to make the switch. Speaking yesterday, Gino Borsoi said he felt that the Yamahas were 'turning the head of some riders', admitting that Espargaro is keen to leave. Leaving, though, will be expensive: the Spaniard will have to buy out his contract, at a cost of 600,000 euros. His new manager, Albert Valera, who also manages world champion Jorge Lorenzo, is working to find a way out of the contract, and Aspar may be willing to let Espargaro go. There was no point in trying to keep a rider who does not want to be in your team, Borsoi told, but Aspar had invested two years in him, and with a new bike due for 2014, they felt they could offer him a competitive package.

It looks unlikely now that Espargaro will stay, however. The Spaniard looks like being on a Yamaha at NGM Forward. That, in turn, opens the way for the second silly season lynchpin, Nicky Hayden. Hayden was caught out by the social media aspect of his training app, as it posted up a run he had taken around Noale, Aprilia's home. This weekend, he admitted to journalists he had visited Aprilia's racing department, saying he had been impressed by the set up. Hayden looks to be very close to signing with Aprilia, and racing for the Aspar team next year. Speaking to, Gino Borsoi said that he expected Hayden would make an announcement about his future 'between today and tomorrow.' believes that Hayden is all but signed for Aprilia, and that his contract will be directly with the factory, racing for the Aspar team in MotoGP. Whether the Aprilia will be entered as a 'factory option' machine, and use Aprilia's own software and 20 liters of fuel, is still unknown. 'That decision is up to Aprilia,' Borsoi told 'We hope to know at Aragon, but maybe later, at the flyaways.'

Filling in the other two seats at both Aspar and NGM Forward is more difficult. If, as seems likely, Espargaro leaves and Hayden arrives, Randy de Puniet has a good chance of keeping his seat at Aspar. If Espargaro stays at Aspar, it will be De Puniet who has to make way for Hayden. The second seat at NGM Forward is up for grabs. Colin Edwards is very keen to remain, having put in so much work on the FTR Kawasaki, knowing that such a strong package is coming. Edwards recently improved form may help him keep the ride.

While Aspar and NGM are looking to 2014, Ducati are worrying about 2013, and especially about Ben Spies. The shoulder injury Spies sustained at Indianapolis is serious, and looks set to keep him out of MotoGP for the rest of 2013, according to reports on both GPOne and MCN. Rehab on his shoulder is proceeding well, but Spies is unwilling to risk coming back early again, viewing 2013 as a lost season. Under normal circumstances, Spies would be back with the Pramac Ducati team in 2014, but the past two years have been anything but normal circumstances for Ben Spies. Spies has a contract directly with Ducati to race in MotoGP for 2014, but there are rumors that Ducati are looking at finding a way out of the contract. Pramac boss Francesco Guidotti denied those rumors to MCN, but the rumors persist. Whether there is any truth in the rumors will emerge soon enough.

Back to top


It's been a busy few weeks for me - did I miss what happened with Alvaro? He's keeping his ride?

Best of luck to Nicky. I really hope Aprilia are on to something and poised to take full advantage of the impending rule changes over the next couple of years. Nicky deserves to finish his GP career on something not crap. I love what Ducati embodies as a brand, but how can even Audi possibly right that ship in anything less than a few years. When Honda had terrible chatter problems they were throwing out a new chassis and components every few weeks it seemed to try fixing the issues. And they were still winning races at the time.

Nevertheless, I still think Cal was smart to take the ride. If it was you risking life and limb as your profession - you'd be dumb to do it for thousands if you had the offer to do it for millions!

Not sure what to say for Ben that hasn't been said already. You don't go overseas and win the WSBK crown as a rookie with anything other than raw talent. It's only my opinion, but with that much talent and so much bad luck lately - you have to wonder how his heart, head, and confidence can possibly manage.

Alvaro signed a two years contract, so he's keeping his ride for the next season.

I would like to see Nicky on the ART, he would do it great!

Thanks ramon. Now that you mention that I do recall reading that he was signed through 2014, but I thought there was some serious discussion of moving him to a production racer and giving the RCV to someone else.

I believe the current word is that Redding goes to Gresini on the proddy RCV for 2014, then gets the full fat machine there in 2015.

It would be a blessing in disguise for Ben if Ducati were to part ways with him. I don't know what he would do with 2014, but it would leave him open to possibly sign with Suzuki for 2015. Much like Hayden being a sales tool for Ducati (and soon for Aprilia) in America, Spies could offer the same benefit for Suzuki. Having a history with Suzuki, and a good one at that, could make this a real possibility, especially if he is reasonable with his salary demands.

Ben Spies with suzuki? No way. Suzuki aint stupid. Ben is at his end now and if duc finds a way in the contract no other team would want him. Ben should try sbk again. Nothing against spies. And i only know him from 2009 when he took the title with yamaha. But that was the last time i saw real racing from Spies.

I hope they come up with a decent package next year. It seems like the ART this year handles better than the Factory Ducatis. With more horsepower they probably would be able to beat the Ducatis. I know it takes more than some horsepower, but if the chassis is designed to handle the horsepower with the same maneuverability, it would probably be a better bike than the one Nicky is currently on.

Espargaro is not surprise to me. He has been beating prototypes straight up, head to head. Consistently qualifying well on a bike that is not up to par with the pure prototypes. He has speed, and cannot wait to see how he does next year. So far he has been very impressive these last two years. Especially this year.

Still wish Nicky would pop down to World SBK. I think he would get more play in that series, and also have a chance to have another World Championship. I no longer believe he can be Motogp World Champion. Marquez is so strong he is making Lorenzo and Pedrosa look like amateurs. Nicky does not have their speed even with a better bike. World SBK IMHO is where I would like to see him ride and battle into retirement. It is just too painful watching his interviews where his face turns into a "Bitter Beer" look while he tries not to be negative. At least in World SBK he could be upfront with some HOPE of winning a championship

We'd all be happy to see him in WBSK but, understandably, he wants another crack at MotoGP. That's the way these guys are built. After MotoGP, barring injury, he's still got some time to chase a superbike title.

From what I've read, the ART bike handles very well and has a very good electronics package. They need a bunch more horsepower and could probably stand to lose weight. If all the reports about next year's bike are reasonably accurate, they've addressed the issues and then some (maybe a seamless gearbox, too). Aprilia has to decide whether or not to enter as a "factory option" bike or not, which will change some factors. They're probably trying to work out that 20 liter limit as we speak. All in all, this could be very interesting.

I think an Aprilia deal might be very shrewed. I'd be willing to bet they're paying him pretty well, too.

I have been batting for Nicky Hayden remaining in MotoGP ever since rumours of a possible move to World Superbikes had begun making the rounds. Hayden is a good rider and has no business being destroyed by Ducati. If it is indeed true that he will have a contract directly with the Aprilia factory even though he will race as a part of team Aspar, then that news signifies two things, for me at least. First it seems to mean that Aprilia is no longer going to be doing things half heartedly and that a full factory return maybe possible at least by 2015. The second is that Nicky Hayden may find a factory that is more supportive of him and help him rebuild his confidence which might be at a low ebb thanks to the Ducati years. So I hope this news is indeed true and that we can find Aprilia inching towards an official return and at the same time see Hayden move to the front of the grid.

I think the most interesting thing about the Aprilia ride is that, unlike a Yamaha or Honda customer bike, the Aprilia is not duty bound to be an also-ran, at least in Hayden's or Espargaro's (if he stays) case. And Aprilia does indeed seem to be building momentum. I'm not sure we'll see them as a factory team in the sense of the current Honda, Yamaha or Ducati operations but they seem to be ramping up involvement, likely more in proportion with whatever new environment the next few years bring.

So next year I wouldn't expect the ART bikes at the very sharp end but I'm sure their target is to exert real and increasing pressure on the LCR, Gresini, Pramac and even the Tech 3 and factory Ducatis. Eventually, Aprilia's progress and the coming new order might intersect at a very happy place for the other Italian motorcycle company.

With Crutchlow taking Hayden's place at Ducati next year, I see that two weeks ago there was speculation of the two facing off on rival Italian V4s in 2014, Crutchlow on Ducati vs Hayden on an Aprilia. The news above seems to indicate this story really did have some legs:

Personally, I think Espargaro could be making a big mistake going with the NGM Forward team. It has achieved very little and in 2014 it will be running an unknown and untried package.

The ART machines, in contrast, are a proven quantity and can only get better.

Aprilia has a fine record in GP racing.

The only question is, will Aprilia continue a Superbike World Championship presence in 2014, or put more budget into building 'non-factory' MotoGP bikes for Jorge Martinez?

I agree with Aleix going to NGM, i can see Aprilia only getting better. As said above the leased M1's are an unknown thing. The only reason i see him going to NGM is for a possible factory yam ride in 2015????? but he'd have to do really really well on the not a factory yamaha next year.

If Aleix is thinking of landing on a factory ride via NGM then it does not seem to be the right move. Would'nt the NGM team be a stepping stone to TECH 3 rather than the factory Yamaha?? His brother got a very good deal at Tech 3 but somehow I cannot help thinking that TECH 3 will have two Bradley Smiths racing for them next season.

Stick to the Aprilia Aleix and spare the pain next year.