Marco Simoncelli Signs For Gresini Honda For 2010

The first part of the 2010 MotoGP rookie puzzle fell into place today at Assen. In a press conference, Fausto Gresini, owner of the eponymous MotoGP team announced that Marco Simoncelli had signed a one-year deal with the team for 2010. Gresini will have one factory RC212V again next year, and Marco Simoncelli must be the odds-on favorite to get that ride. But the competition will be fierce, as Gresini is also said to be pursuing Marco Melandri, while Spanish rider Hector Barbera is believed to be chasing the Gresini Honda rider.

While Simoncelli's talent is undeniable, the press release also highlighted another aspect of the young Italian. Simoncelli is highly marketable in Italy, and the Simoncelli deal was announced together with the extension of Gresini's deal with Italian snack manufacturer San Carlo, who will be staying with the team for 2010 as well. "Marco has shown over the past couple of years that he has the ability to be a major force in the premier class, as well as being a great communicator," Gresini said. Simoncelli's bubbly personality and outlandish hairdo make the Italian instantly recognizable and a huge hit with the fans.

Gresini also underlined that Honda also had a hand in the deal. "Honda rates Simoncelli highly, and believes he is a rider with great potential for the future, so Honda is very pleased that we are welcoming Simoncelli next season," Gresini said. With the so-called rookie rule preventing class newcomers from joining a factory team in their first year, the factories are having to find more indirect ways of securing the services of promising rookies.

The Simoncelli signing is the first indication of how this will work, with Honda supporting Gresini's bid for the rider. It also vindicates the reasoning behind the rule, with San Carlo quite explicit about their reasons for extending their sponsorship deal with Gresini: "Sponsorship decisions, besides the sports facts, are also about the people who make the team," Alberto Vitaloni of the San Carlo company said.

However, the danger remains that satellite teams will be forced to surrender at least some control to the factories as a result of the rule. The major manufacturers are likely to become ever more instrumental in signing riders to teams, and may even decide at some point that it's better to take control of the satellite teams entirely. The rookie rule will benefit the satellite teams in the short term, but it may prove to be a Faustian bargain in the long term.

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Ha ha, I get it: a Faustian bargain by Fausto Gresini. Ha ha.

Okay, seriously, this is probably a good move for Marco.

  • The Ducati is a career killer for everyone but Casey.
  • The Yamaha factory rides are sewn up with Valentino and Jorge.
  • But for 2011, a seat just might be available with the factory Honda squad.

Possible regrets could be.

  • Mika goes well on the Ducati. (Pretty good, so far.)
  • Jorge moves to Honda. (Not likely.)

To my great shame, I hadn't even noticed that. I was thinking entirely about how the new rookie rule will work, so it's an entirely accidental pun...

Not to be picky, but isn't the snack company named San Carlo instead of San Marco...? I don't believe he's holy yet. ;)

And I would object the "bubbly personality" bit, but that's just me. ;) It's interesting though how important the marketability of a rider becomes lately. Of course it's been always like that, but it seems to be even moreso now, also looking at Talmacsi's sudden appearance in the class.

Someone at HRC has got to be on the drawing board working on this...

Is anyone else having trouble picturing someone slightly taller than Rossi riding the bike that makes Dani Pedrosa look "normal size"?  If they acquire Melandri - going for the all-Marco, all-Italian team - they're going to have nightmares setting the bikes up.