Pity poor Jorge Martinez and his Aspar team. While the rest of the world is concentrating on the incredible soap surrounding Jorge Lorenzo and his switch to Ducati, what should have been the biggest news of the week - the confirmation of Hector Barbera to ride the Aspar Ducati in 2010 - is being shoved aside, consigned to the sidebars and small print, now a virtual irrelevance. Which is a shame, as the entry of a new team - and one of the most successful ever in the series - into MotoGP is a very big deal indeed.
The fact that Hector Barbera will be riding for Aspar will hardly come as a surprise. Once Alvaro Bautista confirmed he would be riding for Suzuki, Barbera became the Aspar team's first alternative. Barbera fits Aspar's needs perfectly, as the young 250cc star is from the Valencia region in Spain, as is Jorge Martinez, boss of the Aspar team and the team's primary sponsor, the Valencian tourist board. Barbera has been offered a one year deal to ride with Aspar for 2010.
The decision to sign Barbera did surprise some observers, however. Barbera rode for Aspar in the 125 class in 2002 and 2003, and the split at the end of the 2003 season was said to be far from amicable. But both parties have now declared that that is all in the past, and are looking forward to working with each other again next year.
Barbera is one of a bumper crop of rookies entering the MotoGP series next season. Marco Simoncelli and Alvaro Bautista are definitely confirmed alongside Barbera, Hiroshi Aoyama looks to have a good chance of riding a MotoGP bike next year, and rumors are strong that Thomas Luthi could also make the leap into the MotoGP class. With the possibility of Ben Spies entering to join the Tech 3 team, the fight for the title of Rookie of the Year looks to be one of the toughest in many years.