Silly Season Madness: Pedrosa or Viñales at Yamaha, Rins, Moto2 and More

It seemed like a foregone conclusion. Since Austin, when it became apparent (if not official) that Jorge Lorenzo was off to Ducati, the idea that Maverick Viñales would take his place went from being likely to seeming almost inevitable. After all, Yamaha already have a seasoned veteran in Valentino Rossi, and as 2015 showed, a rider capable of winning a MotoGP championship when the circumstances are right. What they need is someone who can make an immediate impact, a rider who can perhaps win races, and who they can develop into a world champion. That description has Maverick Viñales all over it.

Until today, that is. On Tuesday, UK publication Motorcycle News reported that the Viñales deal could be called off entirely, after a failure to agree financial terms. Instead, in a shock revelation should it turn out to be correct, MCN is linking Dani Pedrosa to the empty seat at Yamaha, with Viñales remaining at Suzuki.

How much credence should we place in the MCN story? Journalist Simon Patterson is sure of his sources, and the details are in line with what I have heard when speaking to Yamaha sources about Viñales. Paddock gossip suggest that Yamaha offered Viñales €4 million to make the switch to the Movistar Yamaha team, but that the Hamamatsu factory upped their offer to €5 million to keep the rider they regard as their future at Suzuki. Paying over that amount for a rider who is yet to score a single podium in MotoGP may have been a little too much for Yamaha.

The truth will out in France

Where Viñales' future lies should become clear at Le Mans. Viñales has said that he would like to make a decision before Le Mans. Although Davide Brivio denied to me at Jerez that there was a deadline for the decision, Viñales has told the Spanish media that he was asked by Brivio to provide an answer by this weekend's race.

Viñales' choice is simple: stay at Suzuki and try to become a legendary part of Suzuki's history by trying to win races and a title; or make the switch to Yamaha and know for certain that he is on a competitive bike. Money may be a factor in his decision, but it will only play a limited part. Motorcycle racers at this level are driven by ambition more than anything, money often playing a symbolic role. What matters is being paid more than the riders they consider their direct rivals, rather than the absolute sum involved.

Should I stay or should I go?

After Jerez, it seemed like ambition had gained the upper hand. Speaking after the race, in which he had finished sixth, sixteen seconds behind the winner Valentino Rossi, Viñales acknowledged the result had given him plenty to think about. "For sure it makes me think," the Spaniard said, "because when you see first and second, and me and Aleix are fifth and sixth, it makes you think a little bit. But I trust in Suzuki, and I trust they can still show me results."

Later, Viñales repeated similar thoughts to Catalunya Radio. "Everyone can see that some bikes are at the front, and we are suffering. I need to think hard about this, it's a difficult moment. I have a lot of confidence in Suzuki, but I have to find my own way, and try to be world champion, which is my goal."

Could Suzuki have stepped in to prevent Viñales leaving? The Japanese factory has an option on the Spaniard for 2017, but Brivio acknowledged that exercising that option would be counterproductive. "We have an option on him," Brivio told me. "Let’s say we are negotiating normal, like if there is not an option. We’d like to find a way that he’s happy to stay, but not because of the option. We are making a normal negotiation with him. Try to find a solution, an idea for him to stay."

An ideal solution?

That solution could have come indirectly, in the form of Yamaha declining to trump Suzuki's pay offer. To an extent, Yamaha is in the luxurious position of having a choice. They have Valentino Rossi for the next two seasons, a rider who is still competitive. They have the best bike on the grid, a machine which has taken two wins and five podiums in the first four races. They have plenty of interest from up and coming riders, and have been trying to secure the services of Alex Rins for some time. If Viñales serves out his contract at Suzuki, then he will be available at the end of 2017, by which time Yamaha would have an even clearer idea of his potential.

All this means that signing a rider to a one-year deal in the Movistar team would make a huge amount of sense for Yamaha. Signing a Spanish rider would make even more sense: Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, which owns Movistar, has a new CEO, and he is reported to be skeptical of the MotoGP sponsorship deal, and wanting a Spaniard in the team to serve as the face (and voice...) of their sponsorship. With Lorenzo gone, and Márquez tied to Honda and completely unacceptable to Valentino Rossi as a teammate, Dani Pedrosa would be the best option for Yamaha should the Viñales deal fall through. Pedrosa would possibly be amenable to a one-year deal.

There are a lot of reasons Pedrosa would be a good fit at Yamaha. The Spaniard has kept well out of the mudslinging which the 2015 championship devolved into, winning plaudits for his dignity in the aftermath of Sepang. He is a relatively easy rider to work with, and would cause no friction with Valentino Rossi. He is a rider capable of winning, as his 28 victories in MotoGP will attest.

Pedrosa would also be an excellent fit with the M1. His smooth style and subtle control inputs are exactly what the Yamaha responds to best, as both Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi have demonstrated. At Honda, his biggest problem is a lack of rear grip, an issue which has plagued the RC213V for the past three years. Pedrosa's small frame and low weight make it hard to generate grip by moving his body around. The Yamaha M1 has fantastic mechanical grip, and solve a lot of his problems.

Small in stature, big in talent

Pedrosa on a Yamaha is one prospect which his rivals fear. Cal Crutchlow has repeatedly told reporters that Pedrosa would have won a lot more races and probably a bunch of championships if the Spaniard had been on a Yamaha. The Englishman has marveled at the way Pedrosa manages to muscle around a bike which is so incredibly physically demanding to ride. Last year, Pedrosa was one of the riders Maverick Viñales singled out for praise, when asked who had impressed him most while riding behind them.

Pedrosa on a Yamaha would present the Repsol Honda squad with a massive headache. Pedrosa's easygoing nature as a teammate has made life easy for Marc Márquez within Repsol Honda, and finding a replacement would be far from simple. Neither Alex Rins nor Maverick Viñales would be acceptable to Marc Márquez (or rather, to Marc Márquez' management), as they would both be perceived as a direct threat to his position as lead rider in the team. Rins, in particular, would not go down well, having split with Emilio Alzamora during his year in Moto3, when he lost the title to Márquez' younger brother Alex, after what many believe was direct intervention from Alzamora in the team.

There is also some question over whether Honda would even want to take a risk on one of the two youngsters. Conversations with senior HRC sources revealed they were still skeptical about both Rins and Viñales. They pointed out that Viñales is yet to score a podium, and Rins has hardly stamped his authority on Moto2 the way that Márquez did when he was in the class. Neither have truly lived up to the hype surrounding them, in the view of Honda.

Too early to start in earnest

At Jerez, Livio Suppo confirmed that their main priority was to continue with their current riders. Negotiations were underway with both Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa, something Suppo reaffirmed to GPOne.com today. Suppo also bemoaned the early start of Silly Season, Jorge Lorenzo's move to Ducati making it difficult to evaluate just how well riders are doing. "Normally, we only start thinking about riders after Mugello," Suppo told me. The three overseas races which kick off the season are not representative, so teams and factories use Jerez, Le Mans and Mugello to provide a yardstick against which to measure riders.

One theory being proposed by MCN is that HRC could choose to move Cal Crutchlow into the Repsol Honda seat. As unlikely as this may seem – Crutchlow did not thrive in the factory environment at Ducati, nor has he threatened the factory Hondas aboard the LCR satellite bike – putting Crutchlow in to the Repsol seat would provide an excellent stopgap until Honda can decide on a replacement. Crutchlow's build is comparable to Márquez, and he has been working on his riding style to try to emulate Márquez. Crutchlow would make a good teammate for Márquez, getting on well with the Spaniard and not posing a threat.

Should Viñales stay at Suzuki and Pedrosa go to Yamaha, that would throw the entire rider market into turmoil (or rather, into even more turmoil than it is in currently). So far, Andrea Iannone has been linked with Suzuki, taking the place of Viñales. Iannone had been expected to be the rider most likely to stay at Ducati once Lorenzo arrived, but his overly ambitious pass at Argentina, in which he took out his teammate Andrea Dovizioso, changed minds inside of Ducati. The Italian had expected to renew his contract at Austin, but after Argentina, Ducati management told Iannone that the earliest he could expect news on his future would be Mugello.

Partnering Lorenzo

If Ducati decide to keep Dovizioso – an understandable decision, considering the development work the Italian veteran has done for them – then Iannone would also be available to take the Repsol Honda ride. Though Iannone at Repsol would not please Márquez' entourage, it would be a lot more acceptable than most of the alternatives. Iannone's aggression would also sit well with HRC, especially departing Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto. Nakamoto turns 60 next year, and is being forced into retirement, as is the custom in Japanese factories. The last task he has set himself is handling the contracts for the future, and especially that of Márquez' at Repsol. Putting Iannone alongside Márquez would be exactly the kind of twist Nakamoto would like to leave to the man who succeeds him.

The one rider complicating matters is Alex Rins. Ideally, Yamaha would like to sign the Spaniard to a factory contract and put him in the Tech 3 garage, taking the place of Pol Espargaro. But Rins is stubbornly refusing to sign any contract which would see him in a satellite team, holding out for factory seat instead. Rins' problem is that none of the factories want to put him straight into their factory team, instead bringing him on through a satellite team. The question is how long Rins can afford to hold out: at some point, the factory seats will start to fill out, giving Rins the choice between gambling on KTM, and accepting a seat at a satellite team. The longer he waits, the fewer the satellite seats available.

Moto2 – failing as a teaching ground?

One of the issues causing the factories concern is just how well Moto2 prepares riders for MotoGP, and how well results in Moto2 foreshadow performance in MotoGP. The contrasting fates of two former Moto2 champions in their rookie years offer a salutary lesson. Marc Márquez ended on the podium in his first MotoGP race, won his second MotoGP race, and went on to become MotoGP champ at the first attempt. Tito Rabat has consistently circulated at the rear of the field, his struggle to adapt to the premier class all to obvious and public.

Clearly, there are major differences between the situations the two riders find themselves in. Márquez came in to a factory Honda ride, on an RC213V which Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner had developed to be arguably the best bike on the grid. Since then, the bike has got gradually worse, and become ever more difficult to ride. Added to that, Rabat joined MotoGP the class had just changed from Bridgestone to Michelins, and adopted spec electronics. That put private teams at a disadvantage, as several satellite riders have pointed out.

Leaving all that aside, it has been clear that Moto2 has left Tito Rabat woefully unprepared for MotoGP. He has been shocked at exactly how competitive the series is, and just how tough it is to even get anywhere near the points. It has been not just a baptism of fire, but a baptism of brimstone, hell and damnation as well.

That led one MotoGP team manager to comment to me off the record that they felt that Moto2 was not a good recruitment pool for MotoGP riders. "When I sign a rider for MotoGP," the team manager said, "I will not sign them from Moto2."

The other side of the coin

When I phoned Tech 3 boss Hervé Poncharal to ask him about this, the Frenchman disagreed vehemently. "Good!" Poncharal said. "This means I have more riders to choose from!" The prospect of signing an existing rider in MotoGP was simply not appealing to him, Poncharal said. "To take an old guy and do OK is not exciting for me," Poncharal told me. "Taking a young guy and teaching them is much more interesting." Given that the Tech 3 team has a role as a pathway through to the factory team, as a sort of Yamaha junior team, this answer is not surprising.

When I suggested that World Superbikes might be a better option, Poncharal was complimentary about the level of riders in the series, but pointed to the lack of viable candidates. When I gave my assessment, he agreed wholeheartedly. Jonathan Rea was clearly talented enough, but at 29 years old, a little old. Michael van der Mark shows a lot of potential, but needs to demonstrate he is clearly better than his teammate, and worthy of a gamble. Chaz Davies, like Rea, is 29, and though clearly on a level with Rea, and competitive enough for MotoGP, a little too old to be taken into consideration. Tom Sykes is 31, and being beaten by his teammate. Alex Lowes shows potential, but has struggled to make an impression on the Yamaha. None of them were under consideration for a ride in MotoGP, as far as Poncharal was concerned.

The best option was to look at Moto2, Poncharal said, though he acknowledged that the field was a little sparse at the moment. Sam Lowes, Alex Rins and Jonas Folger were the pick of the bunch, with Poncharal acknowledging he was in talks with Folger for a seat in the Tech 3 team. Johann Zarco had also proved to be fast, but Zarco already has some kind of deal with Suzuki.

The real excitement is in Moto3, according to Poncharal. "Moto3 is where the talent is," the Frenchman said. Jorge Navarro, Fabio Quartararo, Brad Binder, Nicolo Bulega, Romano Fenati, Poncharal could easily see all of them racing in MotoGP in the not too distant future. First, though, they needed to pass through Moto2, to get used to the weight and power of a Moto2 bike. "Talent levels go up and down in every championship," Poncharal told me. Talent is cyclic in nature, with barren patches punctuating more fertile patches. Moto2 is just coming out of such a barren patch, while Moto3 is currently very deep in talent indeed. There is still hope.


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Total votes: 197
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Comments

With Suzuki not providing a satellite bike what sort of agreement besides test rider could Zarco have agreed to? Also interesting how Luis Salom was so good in moto3 but has disappeared in moto2. 

Total votes: 153

My guess is that Suzuki will negotiate the sale of Aleix Espargaró's contract. (Maybe KTM?) I realize this would leave them without a veteran in the development role, but I think they may believe it's worth the gamble. 

Total votes: 138

Thanks for a great read

I kind of hope Maverick stays put at Suzuki..I just think anyone going to be VR's teammate is at a loss & will suffer office politics .....Dani is an interesting choice though as he is seasoned enough to ignore it :) 

 

Total votes: 158

The infamous wall in the Yamaha garage was as clear as it could have been. There was no politics, he just wanted it there and it was for everyone to see.

Every top rider "wants" to be number one in his team, there's no one who would feel otherwise (saying that is a different matter). Do you feel Marquez would have it easy or take it easy if someone like Iannone or even Lorenzo were to join him in Honda?

Rossi has never destroyed anybody's career by politics (at least I haven't come to know of it through my TV screen or the internet). Although, he has definitely marked the ending of certain racers like Biaggi and Gibernau and he did that with racing on track!

He's famous for mind games, but don't confuse that with politics.

 

Total votes: 190

All these new guns holding out for more money and factory rides! Kids these days! It's a seller's market, apparently. I think Honda's skepticism is correct. And from a fan's point of view, YES I want to see Pedrosa on the Yamaha! Do we get a vote? :D I'd love to see his skills at work on a new machine, the same way it will be interesting to watch Lorenzo master the Ducati.

And just for fun, how about Ducati sells both Andreas to Suzuki, and puts Laverty in with Lorenzo?

Total votes: 169

Pedrosa on the Yamaha would be a revelation, love to see it and him succeed, but I doubt it.

Total votes: 173

If Yamaha signs Dani Pedrosa, I would like them to see him as their long term rider and not someone for a one-year-deal till they find a replacement.

I believe Dani is a keeper, when Rossi would retire, Dani shall be the one to take the development of the M1 forward. He's much capable of that and in all likeliness will be more successful on the Yamaha than he is on Honda. I guess it's about time the Spaniard should himself say bye to Honda.

 

Total votes: 162

Everyone thinks otherwise, but I don't believe Vinales is in line to join Rossi at Yamaha. At the very least, I think Fummi would prefer the little samurai to travel down retirement road with than another young and eager Spaniard on the ascendancy over on the other side of the wall - err, box. VR at least could pull rank this time, Yamaha understanding the importance of a legend's swan song (to their bottom line). Dani still has more to offer in his career but would surely retire if his only option were a non-factory ride, so don't be surprised if he jumps ship to fill Jorge's seat on 'the other side'.

Maverick to HRC makes infinitely more sense, even though he really should just stay with the team that took a chance on him and is showing such huge promise. But from past experiences, we've learned that the Maverick is just that, and I unfortunately feel that his level of emotional maturity is such that he's believing his own hype just a bit too much right now, and this is affecting his sense of balance and reason. I hope his integrity remains intact. While this is an area reserved for management and counsel, one feels Mav is a bit of a wild man who makes his own counsel. Hopefully he learned something a few years back. I just can't help but doubt it, especially considering he came out the better for it.

Don't doubt that HRC would be a better place for Vinales at this stage of his career, though. Maverick could really benefit from the discipline of being a factory Honda man, even though he would have to do his best Luke Skywalker rendition to survive. I do think he needs it, though, just like Marquez did. And we know how that story went, dont we? 

NOT putting Mav in the same category as Marc, though. Not even close. But I fear the younger youngster is doing just that (putting himself in the same category as Marc) Mav's eyes betraying his very lofty ambitions whenever nearby The Ant. Only Marc could deal with Vinales right now as a teammate, anyway, as he hastens the end of teammate A. Esp as a top contendor - quickly and seemingly effortlessly. And I'm probably doing Marquez a disservice by suggesting he needed the discipline of Honda, but his association with the big H certainly didn't hurt the young man from Cervera. This much is certain.

And just in case you're doubting Repsol would let Pedrosa go to Yamaha, recall it was with Movistar that he romped to his world championships in 250. Reunions are fun and often deeply moving, aren't they?

Iannone's gaff in Argentina would definitely have pissed off more than the Bologna brass. A certain Mr. Stoner would have been less than impressed as well. Perhaps he's thinking something happens to an Italian rider's coefficient of ambition to talent when they hop on an Italian thoroughbred. Will it be enough to make him join his old mate Lorenzo next year, consummating the Italian Renaissance? It might, as Jorge is one of the few guys Casey doesn't mind, they both sharing a mutually high regard and level of respect for one another.

Now that would be a Super-Team, no? Could Ducati Manage it? Doubtful. But it would certainly be worth trying - and bloody awesome to behold.

Total votes: 160

... perhaps it is in HRC's interests to keep Dani on board, if not to win the championship for HRC, but to prevent him from winning the championship with Yamaha Factory.

I suspect that HRC are very much aware of just how potent he's likely to be on the M1 as well.  And in any case, he's proven to be one of only a few people in recent years who can win with the HRC bike.  Plenty have tried and though the bike was a lot stronger than it actually appears to be, once they've got a seat on it.  e.g., crutchlow, redding, dovi (beign surprised at just how good the tech3 yamaha was when getting the boot from HRC), etc.

Total votes: 147

"....as he hastens the end of teammate A. Esp as a top contendor - quickly and seemingly effortlessly"

Aleix seems to be doing a pretty decent job of disproving this statement.  After 4 rounds they are separated by just 1 championship point, which is pretty much down to Vinales inheriting 4th after Rossi, Pedrosa and Dovi binned it at COTA (Aleix was 2 seconds behind in 5th).

Aleix' 5th at Jerez was actually a more impressive result, behind a full complement of aliens and 2 seconds in front of Vinales.  First Suzuki home honours are split 2/2.   

I haven't been a huge fan of Aleix but I'm rooting for him to teach the youngster he ain't all that. 

Total votes: 163

I'd argue the 1 point separation is down to Vinales crashing out of a well earned second place at Argentina rather than one decent showing by Espargaro. Vinales is showing signs of being a top rider and making some of the mistakes that go with that. Didn't he chase down Espargaro from a long way back to be 'gifted' 4th at Austin? 

Total votes: 148

Wow, the excitement level of this season goes through the roof!

While not a big fan of Pedrosa, I really respect the man for all he has achieved in his racing career (and for showing us what being a great man is all about). It is such a shame that he could end up in the history books as "the best rider to never have won a title"... and unfortunately, his time is running out. How I would like to see him take the gamble, pop his leg over a Yamaha and finally slay the demon that has been keeping him from the title all those years.

Now that would be a story!

Total votes: 173

Thank you for the insight and update. I'm puzzled I don't see how can Pedrosa join Yamaha. The idea is that he would be offered a one year contract: wouldn't that be insulting to Dani? The fact that he's there just to fill the vacancy while they wait for the next hot rider? And why would he leave Honda? It's not a rhetorical question. Why would he?

Total votes: 173

Why is it insulting to Dani? It's a chance for both parties to assess each other and if the partnership proves successful they can extend it into the future, completely negating the need to take a risk on a relative unknown.  

On the right bike Dani can still challenge for the title, whereas I'm not seeing any young talent outside the top 4 who looks remotely capable, includng Vinales and Iannone.

Why would Dani go?  What besides the fact the M1 is a perfect match for him?  Because the Honda is obviously built around Marquez who is the only rider able to make it work.  Everyone else is riding on struggle street instead of a race track.  

Total votes: 140

I think Dani may well be tempted because if nothing else, he's tried to win a title with HRC for 10 years now and had a very difficult time of it.

The Yamaha suits his style a lot better than the HRC bike and I've got zero doubts he would have had at least one title by now if he'd been on the Yamaha instead of Jorge or Valentino.

I'm sure that must be playing on his mind at this point.  Additionally, while he's on the HRC bike he's going to have to ride it better than Marc can - and if nothing else, Marc's larger build and more aggressive style is better suited to the bike.

Whilst both himself and Marc are at HRC, i do not see Dani winning a title unless Marc injures himself.  And that's not because I don't think Dani is a good enough rider, he's just behind the 8 ball against Marc before he even starts given Marc is clearly right now the #1 in the team and thus a priority for new parts, and  the character of the HRC machine is just not well suited to him.

Total votes: 140

Thanks David!

Good as always.
When I first read the news on MCN, about Predrosa and Crutchlow, I thought it sounded like a joke. But maybe it's not. One thing that you don't mention, is the linking with sponsors. Pedrosa is the same as Red Bull, but that won't work in Yamaha, who has Monster instead. Do we really think Predrosa would leave Red Bull after all these years? The only other way he could go would be KTM, who also is sponsored by Red Bull (at least my thoughts on this).

In the top of your story, you don't say anything about Zarco, which you have said before has a contract in place with Suzuki. This could mess up some of the possible moves you mention, don't you think?

Where do we find Cal in the standings? Do we really think that Repsol Honda consider him in the factory team? I guess more on MCN being an british newspaper, and hoping for Cal in the Repsol Honda than reality. But, my guess only :)

And, as you mention, I think both Rea and Davies are worth a try in MotoGp.
Davies would be nice on a MotoGp Ducati :)
(and Rea to LCR ....)
 

Keep up the good work!!
 

Total votes: 154

Its not that unusual to have to switch between them, Dovi had to surrender a long time Red Bull contract to sign with Monster Tech3 Yamaha for instance.

Bradley Smith will have to do the opposite, he's been a Monster suported rider for a lot of years, KTM have always been suported by Red Bull and will continue to do so as a factory MotoGP team so you know which energy drink bottle he'll have his water i next year.......

 

Total votes: 163

Predosa to Yamaha would be amazing, and very well deserved, personally I think he could win races on it... At the risk of sounding a little snide... If we take it as fact that Dani won't ever be MotoGP champ, then at least joining the elite few to have won on different manufacturers further cements his name (deservedly) into the history books

Poncharal might think that tech3 is a stepping stone to the Yamaha factory, but it never seems to work out like that for the riders though! Ok Ben managed it, but that didn't go so smoothly in the long run...

I wonder just how much sway Marc and Rossi actually have in their potential team mates...

Marc, probably quite a lot, as without him Honda wouldn't be looking at all rossy... And whereas publically Rossi might be saying his team mate makes no difference to him, I do WONDER if yamaha can live without the headache of having two star, number one riders...

I SUSPECT that Marc would be quite happy for Pedrosa to stay put at HRC

I think Crutchlow to HRC is a bit of a stretch tbh.... Back to tech3 maybe???

If I was Poncharal, I'd be ringing up Laverty's manager... Assuming that he's no where near the front of the queue for a factory Ducati seat...

interesting times :)

Total votes: 153

... given his results on the Tech 3 bike so far, i do not agree.

Tech 3 has pretty good bikes that aren't THAT far off Yamaha factory level (generally based on last year's bike), and for the past few years the M1 has been a very competitive bike.

Total votes: 140

On the Yamaha. Make it happen

Total votes: 176

For Rins to go straight into a factory team he needs to dominate Moto 2 and so far he isn't. Ok, it's a long season but at the moment Lowes, Zarco and Folger have the measure of him.     I like Rins but it feels like he's 'fronting' and not backing up his claim.

How watertight is Lowes contract with Aprillia?  I can see other teams making enquiry's and getting cheque books out.

 

 

Total votes: 150

Would that be the first time that two siblings or even family members will be riding factory machines in the premier class? Because to be honest; this will happen if Yamaha won't get Maverick, they will opt for Pol which has seen a remarkable improvement and consistency, knows the bike now and still very young. Suzuki is definitelty holding on to Aleix who has been performing well and has been an integral part of the GSXRR's development process.

I'd still LOVE to see Dani on a Yamaha tho!

Total votes: 159

I get it. All of the english speaking MotoGP Journos are British. I get it. But suggestions here and on twitter that Crutchlow will go to Repsol Honda next year, really? Wishful thinking. The guy will be lucky to be in MotoGP next year. Same with Dovi. I know it hurts, but Dovi as a development rider? Are you kidding, where were his development skills all those years the GP<=14 was an understeering pig? Now Pedrosa to Yamaha makes sense for Rossi. Rossi knows he can't beat Lorenzo on similar machinery, and now that he suckered Jorge to take the Ducati spot, he will want the perfect #2 rider as a teammate. Pedrosa is that. Fast enough to take points from Rossi's rivals, timid enough to cave under Rossi's heat.

Total votes: 197

You have an ill-informed opinion on Dovi: Gigi Dall'Igna and many others have praised time and again his input and insight for the development of Ducati. Maybe he's not a winner but he's been doing a great job in the Italian garage. As for VR "unable to beat Lorenzo on similar machinery" I guess you were in the wishful thinking mood yourself..... looking at the past 2 seasons and the last 4 races VR and JL are fairly equal. And I think it's a bit insulting to Dani's record and personality to say that he'll cave in under Rossi.

Total votes: 193

would suggest othwerwise, mtiberio.

How much more evidence do you need to see/read/here to realise that the problems at Ducati were institutional rather than rider based?  Or do you think Gigi took a quick spin on the GP14 and made the successful redesign based on his own observations?

Your logic is actually anything but: having helped transform the GP13/14 into the GP15 his development work is pretty outstanding.  I can't think of a bike that has made a similar leap in competiveness in recent years.  

As for Rossi vs Lorenzo I take it you haven't heard about Jerez?  Might wanna do some reading there.....

 

Total votes: 153

Jerez? An anomaly. If Rossi was faster than Lorenzo, he would have been 2015 CHampion and leading him in points now. As far as the leap from GP14 to GP15, we will of course only be able to speculate who was responsible. Dovi's results in MotoGP, however speak for themselves (and not glowingly I might add).

Total votes: 150

Yamaha are offering 4 million Euros for a rider who is yet to score a podium alongwith a bonafide front runner machine with all bells and whistles and he is holding out for a 25% hike? I knew splitting up with Ajo would have it's effect but I hope Vinales hasn't blown his big chance. Factory Yamaha or Honda for that matter don't come knocking for your services very often in your career, I could understand if you were a multiple premier class champion with tons of victories so that you can dictate your terms but Vinales is a one time Moto3 champion while Rins won 125 series way back in 2011. They are being poorly advised by their managment and for their sake hope they can sort out their huge heads in time.

Coming to Pedrosa, I have always wondered how he would get on with the M1. It looks to be tailor made for him to succeed but I'm unsure about Yamaha pairing two 30+ riders in a works team as good as they are. My opinion is this is just classic hardballing by Yamaha, they are letting Vinales know they have other options too so it's just a matter of Vinales folding and I reckon he will.

Total votes: 187

Agreed, and summed up nicely. Vinales should take the "Yamackha" seat no matter the monetary offer. He is FORTUNATE to be on their shopping list. HRC, I don't know if he's on their list after his walkout in Moto3 and blaming HRC for not giving him enough support.....honestly what happend to proving yourself? It's all about the passport and sponsors now. Rins expecting a factory ride! Oh yeah I forgot, that stipulation always existed! Must have the right passport.

Total votes: 151

He meant he was 125cc CEV champ in 2011, which Rins was

Total votes: 134

The reason Stoner jumped off the Ducati was that it was getting more difficult to ride, thus he was unable to devolop it, Rossi jumps on the Ducati & was unable to develop it either. Since Dovi has been on the Ducati it has now become a more developed bike which is easier to ride & attracted a three time Word Champion. Does this mean that Dovi is really actually a better development rider than both Stoner or Rossi as they could not tame the understeering pig.

Total votes: 170

... riding a motorcycle is 80% feel and confidence, and the engineers can only make decisions on how to proceed based on reliable, repeatable rider input.  With the caveat that they must listen to the rider input.

Jorge would be a great development rider - able to hit the same grain of tarmac every lap; he can take the rider variation out of the development process.  Rossi is a good development rider, his crew chiefs have always had massive praise for his input - apparently he can both give good feedback on feeling and also understand what is going on to perhaps cause it better than most.

Stoner's style was sideways, fast but not necessarily as consistent as others.  Ditto for Marc.  I doubt that either rider are quite as good as "development" riders as someone like Lorenzo because there are too many variables involved.

Ducati spent so long going backwards because stoner would do what was required to ride the bike quickly perhaps without needing the same level of feel and confidence as others to do so. Ducati would get feedback from others and promptly ignore it because stoner was fast.  They killed Melandri's MotoGP career, and didn't do Hayden any favours either.

It wasn't until Rossi came along where they couldn't simply blame the rider any more; Rossi's achivements are indisputable.  But by then they'd spent a long tiem going sideways/backwards and the rest of the field had moved on.

Of course i am not a MotoGP crew chief, team boss or rider. But i do ride every day, do track days and know that for me (and from interviews, etc.) rider feel and confidence is almost everything if you want the guy to go fast.  That's how I see things with regards to the bike development...

Total votes: 154

You're equating consistency with the quality of rider feedback, which is not necessarily the case. Being able to hit the same patch of tarmac lap after lap shows a high degree of skill, true, but that doesn't necessarily mean the feedback the rider can give is at the same level. Being able to do something doesn't mean you can also explain it.

Both Rossi and Stoner have been praised many times for the quality of their feedback, it's just that Ducati upper management chose to ignore Stoner's because he was winning anyway, and Rossi's input was too late - the bike needed too much by then.

Total votes: 159

Yeah, i guess i forgot to mention that even if a rider is consistent it doesn't necessarily mean they can articulate what they are feeling.

But I guess I stand by the part of the original point i made - being able to set consistent laps enables changes to be very effectively tested back to back and the results measured.

A rider who just goes out and rides whatever the setup is fast may mask problems on the bike or cloud the issue for the engineers - the feedback they give may not be taken on board properly if the engineers are just looking at the graphs and saying "but this lap was faster".

Which i suspect may well have been the problem at Ducati, in line with what you suggest.  The engineers back in Bologna weren't in direct contact with the riders, just analyzing graphs and perhaps making the wrong call on them.

As has been mentioned many times, I think the biggest thing Gigi has done is have the engineers at the track to get feedback directly from the guy on the bike, so they can see his expression, chat in detail, etc.  Way more context for them than just looking at a bunch of graphs and a lap time.

Setting one or a number of fast laps whilst being way outside the comfort zone, not needing to have the confidence in the front to push an overtake, etc. is not necessarily going to win a race.  The setup needs to give the rider enough confidence and flexibility to deal with race conditions and those are different from setting a quick flying lap.

 

 

Total votes: 138

I think it just means that Dovi was lucky enough to be at Ducati when Gigi Dall'igna arrived. 

Total votes: 166

Rossi & Jeremy where able to sway Ducati back to a traditional frame. Gigi was able to take it from there.

It's called silly season because riders do silly things. Going for the quick money on a bike or team that don't fit their style. I get it but in the long run they are out with zero success.

Total votes: 151

People will say all sorts of things in the hope of bolstering their riders egos. One need only look at Dovi's record to know he hasn't developed a thing. Frankly he hasn't done anything to merit continuing on a factory seat. He barely managed to out perform Hayden, who is long gone.  Jl and VR fairly equal? Well to quote George Orwell, some are more equal than others. 

Total votes: 157

Just to be clear: who are the pigs in your orwellian comment? And who would be the primus inter pares? (Forgive my latin). If you're trying to state that JL is better than VR well it's an opinion. Facts and figures say otherwise putting them much on the same level. (Regardless that one has won almost anything out there to be won and is considered a living legend)
Do I love MotoMatters!!! I even get the pleasure of debating Orwell! Thank you David.

Total votes: 160

Visto desde lejos y conociendo un poco a Yamaha me pregunto si lo que Lin pretende es presionar a Maverick con la "fuga" sobre Dani.

Spanish has now moved ahead of English as the #1 language spoken by native speakers in the "free world." Natural bilinguals suffer less, but those of us who learned another language late in life (in Chihuahua bars or at the university) often have conflicting opinions and personalities in the two or more languages. Don´t know if David suffers this with Dutch and English. When I listen to David speaking Dutch it doesn´t seem that he´d have to have a split personality to agree with himself in those two, but I can have a serious argument with myself and get lost between languages. Ask Toby Moody who thought I was speaking in tongues on Europsort when Alex Crivillé made that last lasp move on Okada at Catalunya, 1999. I honestly did not realize I had changed to venacular half way through the lap. ¡Mentira!

In the American talking half of my mind, I could almost believe that MCN was not just selling headlines with the Dani to Yamaha and Crutchlow (who I have accidently called Croxford on air several times) back to Honda, pero en cristiano me parece un globo que te cagas. 

Besides, I´m retired and taking a break from working on our rancho watering system in the Sonora desert where the coyotes howl in Spanish.

Regarding Maverick....I think his contracts and past relationshios with sponsors are a tangle that might cause some concern to an executive like Jarvis. The best move for Maverick would be to go to Yamaha on a two year deal with third year option. And my advice to all the Superbike riders mentioned would be to remember Toseland and Vermeullen...and Hodgson and Xaus too. Unless you are coming on very, very fast, like Ben Spies, and with a path to a factory A team, the move from SBK to MotoGP is a bridge too far....the apparent exception being Cal Croxford.

Pues, yo no estoy de acuerdo.  

Total votes: 171

It's always bothered me that Cal has been able to spend as much time in GP as he has. Not taking anything away from his talent but I never believed the move from SBK was warranted with a only a handful of wins and no title. Johnny Rea on the other hand was competitive on a lacking CBR, did VERY well on this his debut RCV ride and now has a title in hand in his first year with KTM. For crutchlow to remain on factory machinery without delivering a win yet bothers me to no end because I really like Cal and his honest personality but he's not been able to back up his claims of "If I was on that bike I would be on the podium a lot more"

I can't see HRC moving Cal over. I also dont see Rea going back to Honda but stranger things have happen. and I agree on Tech3 hardly being a stepping stone to the factory seat. Who was the last rider besides Spies to actually make that step. 

Total votes: 156

Am I the only one who is constantly impressed with Aleix Espargaro? Ive always thought hes the stronger of the two brothers and is a consistent solid performer, yet no-one talks much about him. Ive always thought he deserves a shot on a race-winning bike, but it may be that his chance has passed now. Didnt even get a mention in above article!

Any talk of E.Laverty getting a move up the ducati ladder David? Hes been doing wonders on a 2 year old pre-Gigi Ducati atm, what could he do on, say, Iannones bike? Bet he'd get over the finish line more often at least..

Get Pedrosa on that Yam and lets see what he does! That would be very interesting to see. Yamaha would have 2 "old hands" for the next 2 years, but with Rossi presumably departing at that stage, DP could take over the "experienced" rider mantle perfectly. I couldnt think of a better brand ambassador also! Yamaha do like collecting them, & stealing a universally liked and respected rider from Honda in the final chapters of his career could be a shrewd move..

And as for WSBK riders and their merits in MGP, give Rea & Davies a shot! Who were the last two OTHER dry race winners in the top category? T.Bayliss & B.Spies. Thats 100% of non-alien dry race winners in the past decade, I rest my case..

Total votes: 138

Seeing Dani move to Yamaha would be very exciting for the sport. I've always liked Pedrosa, well except for when he took out Nicky Hayden in 2006 in Portugal. Luckily Vale crashed out in Valencia and Nicky took the titlle. Dani has been a bit unlucky over the years with all his injuries. A stuck throttle and Marco shutting the door on him I believe in Le Mans, and of course the tire warming fiasco... Hopefully on a new machine and a new team, he can start winning some races again and gain back his alien status.

Total votes: 157

If they go all out to keep Vinales, but you'd have to conclude Maverick is a bit nuts.

Cal on the Repsol would fulfil a dream of a British rider getting a Japanese factory bike, but it would clearly be as number 2.

Great writing as always.

Total votes: 145

I'm not really convinced about all these 'riding style' arguments. People have been yelling for years about it and it never works out like they expect. Crutchlow's style was suited to the Ducati. Dovi wasn't. Hayden would do so much better on a Honda. Etcetera etcetera.

Just filling column inches. In the end fast riders are fast and fast bikes are fast.

Total votes: 157

I hope Maverick and Aleix both stay with Suzuki. The manufacturer is onto something special with their MotoGP bike and they've only just begun! With Espargaro's big step, that team looks threatening already. I really like the idea of Yamaha hiring Pedrosa. I can't speak to the sponsorship issue, but I think Dani could win a title for Yamaha right away. Vinales, probably not. Iannone would be a good choice for Suzuki if they end up with an empty seat. Dovi seems to be getting stronger so they should keep him alongside Lorenzo. Meanwhile, I don't get the hype over Rins and Zarco at all. They might be good replacements for some of the satellite riders struggling at the back, but that's about it in my view. Great article!

Total votes: 144

Does anyone else find it unbelievable that Andrea Iannone has gone from being Ducati's rising star to a pariah and not even sure where he's going to land in the 2017 seat shuffle. Wow.

BTW, could Motomatters make it an option to hide the voting display in one's account? I find it an unnecessary distraction.

Total votes: 151

The need for internet commentors to be personally pandered to an unescessary distraction. 

Total votes: 147

Install the "Stylish" browser extension, available from userstyles.org, and add the following rule for motomatters.com:

div.rate-widget {
    display: none;
}

I use it to constrict the width of the text to 35em and thus make it much easier to read.

Total votes: 165

I'm thinking Yamaha should sign ME to a multi-million dollar deal. I really don't think the Movistar Yamaha sponsorship brand is justly represented at the back of the grid! Who wants to see two of the same painted bikes go by at the same time when you can see one go by every few seconds....or minutes? I can promise I would ride slow enough for potential customers to be able to read all of the sponsorship stickers! I'm just trying to help out folks!

Another name to toss out there is current American Superbike champion Cameron Beubier for the Yamaha. He's lightning fast, and he's ridden the M1 (very fast) at a winter test, and he's young. The kid is fearless! I'd love to see another American in the series! America is a huge market, and that would help Yamaha here. So, yeah.....me or the kid, that would be great!

Total votes: 148

does anyone else think that Suzuki may have believed that their resources would be put to better effect in retaining Vinales than fielding satellite bikes? Can't help but wonder how the supposedly poorest factory -still without a proper title sponsor- could cough up that kind of salary.

Total votes: 151

I would also love to see Beaubier in MotoGP. He's been such a joy to watch grow and develop over the years! 

Total votes: 125