Marc VDS Racing are to move up to MotoGP, fielding a factory Honda RC213V for Scott Redding. The deal was announced late on Sunday night via the Marc VDS Racing Twitter feed, after meetings between the team, Honda, and team owner Marc van der Straten.
The agreement means that the Marc VDS team will field a factory Honda RC213V for the next three seasons, through 2017. The duration of the contract had been a critical point in the negotiations, allowing the team to spread the costs out over a longer period, and showing HRC's support for both the team and Redding.
The move to MotoGP had been mooted after the Indianapolis GP. After Indy, rumors emerged that Gresini's title sponsor, Go&Fun, would be pulling out of their deal a year early. Without the money from Go&Fun, Gresini could not afford the factory Honda. Gresini have now officially switched to Aprilia, leaving a factory Honda and an Open class Honda going begging.
Once they realized the bike was available, the Marc VDS Racing team started work on gathering the sponsorship to cover the cost of a factory Honda. They thought they had covered the cost at Silverstone, only to find that as a new team, they would have to pay for their own tires and freight, and not receive support for travel from IRTA. That left them €1.7 million extra to find in less than two weeks. They were believed to be just short of the necessary amount, but some last-minute negotiations - including the signing of a main sponsor for the project - may have covered the shortfall sufficientlly to make the move.
The team have yet to issue a full press release on the move, as there are still details with Redding's contract with Gresini to be cleared up. Once those issues have been resolved, then a full statement from the team will be expected. There are some details we know, however: unlike at Gresini, the Marc VDS bike will run Ohlins and Brembo, rather than Showa and Nissin. A crew chief is yet to be announced, but it is unlikely that Redding will be reunited with Pete Benson. Benson is currently working with Tito Rabat, and as Rabat is expected to be challenging for the Moto2 title again in 2015, the team feel it is a bad idea to split Benson and Rabat up.
The Redding annoucement means that two British riders will be on the satellite Hondas. While Redding is on the Marc VDS bike, Cal Crutchlow will be switching to LCR Honda for next year.
The announcement also clears the way for a further raft of announcements. Redding was being courted by Aprilia, Ducati, and Forward Yamaha, while Aspar were also waiting to pick up the factory Honda and Redding if Marc VDS decided against making the jump. With Redding gone, the second seats at Pramac, Forward and Aspar will quickly be filled. Expect a flurry of activity at the Aragon round in two weeks' time.