Bombshell: Yamaha And Tech3 To Part Ways For 2019 - Who Takes Yamahas, Who Supplies Tech3?

If you thought the 2019 MotoGP Silly Season was already in high gear, a bombshell announcement has just put it into overdrive. Today, the Monster Tech3 Yamaha team announced that from 2019, they will be parting ways. Tech3 will no longer be a satellite Yamaha team.

The split brings to an end an association of nearly 20 years with Yamaha. They first started in 1999 with Shinya Nakano and Olivier Jacque in 250cc, before switching to the premier class with the same pair in 2001. Tech3 have been a loyal partner for many years, giving up one seat to a factory-backed rider on a number of occasions, as occurred with Ben Spies, Colin Edwards, and Pol Espargaro.

However, there had been a few signs of tension over the past few months. Although Hervé Poncharal remained ever the gentleman when talking about Yamaha, toeing the company line, there were occasional hints of frustration in his response to questions, though never anything explicit. With Tech3 having been given a better offer from a different manufacturer - as the press release states - that made it easier to end the association with Yamaha.

That huge piece of news opens up a whole range of questions. Who will be supplying Tech3 with MotoGP bikes next year? Will Yamaha have a satellite team in 2019? And does this open the door to the VR46 team to make their entry into MotoGP? 

To address the first question first, there are only really two candidates to supply Tech3 with MotoGP bikes from 2019: KTM and Suzuki. Neither the budget nor the size of the racing department at Aprilia would suggest that the Italian factory would be capable of offering Tech3 a better deal than Yamaha. Both Honda and Ducati are already supplying a lot of teams with bikes for 2019, and neither would be able to add another satellite squad.

Between KTM and Suzuki, a similar principle applies: KTM has one of the largest budgets in the paddock - the Austrian factory is investing €250 million over a five-year program - and the resources in the racing department to support a satellite team. Both KTM CEO Stefan Pierer and head of racing Pit Beirer have expressed an intention to have a satellite team in the near future. In an interview with MotoMatters held last year at Aragon, team boss Mike Leitner said "Of course, it would be nice to have a satellite team one day. This is clear. This is the commitment from Mr. Pierer and Pit." 

Suzuki, on the other hand, has a much smaller racing department and budget. Team boss Davide Brivio has also expressed a desire to have a satellite team, but has always met with some resistance from senior management in the Japanese factory. When discussing the possibility of a satellite team, Brivio has always said that having a single satellite rider would be manageable, but supplying two riders would be more difficult. 

So although it remains speculation at the current moment, it looks more likely that Tech3 will partner with KTM than anyone else. That would also make sense given KTM's expression of interest in having Johann Zarco ride for them in 2019. Zarco would then swap to the factory team from Tech3, and make room for new riders in the Tech3 satellite squad. Those riders would most likely be Miguel Oliveira and possibly Brad Binder, who are both under contract to KTM in Moto2, and are believed to have clauses in their contracts offering them a seat in MotoGP in the future.

Tech3 parting ways with Yamaha would almost certainly also mean a split with current title sponsor Monster. The obvious replacement for Monster would be Red Bull, and if Tech3 were to become a KTM satellite team, then the F1 Toro Rosso junior team would serve as an example.

If Tech3 are parting ways with Yamaha, where does that leave Yamaha in 2019? The most likely answer is, without a satellite team. Although Dorna is know to be keen to have the Sky VR46 team in MotoGP, the series organizers have guaranteed the grid slots to the current MotoGP teams for a five-year period ending in 2020, meaning that a vacancy for a new team would only open in 2021. Dorna has stated explicitly that they do not want to expand the grid beyond 24 riders, as that would require them to support those riders financially as well.

The current satellite teams know that any contract with Yamaha would be merely temporary, until the Sky VR46 team could take a grid slot in 2021. Given Valentino Rossi's strong association with Yamaha (beyond his own history with the brand, the VR46 Riders Academy also has a contract with Yamaha to supply bikes), there is no doubt that when the team bearing his name enters MotoGP, it will be with Yamaha. This would also open up a route for talented riders from the VR46 Academy into MotoGP, whoever is in the factory team.

The only realistic way for the Sky VR46 Racing Team to enter MotoGP before 2021 would be to either partner with an existing satellite team, or to purchase the grid slots of the team. Partnering with the VR46 organization would be a very one-sided affair, and basically amount to a takeover. Selling grid slots would be a better, more lucrative deal, though it would mean stepping out of MotoGP. With the money involved - an educated guess would put the price of two grid slots for two years somewhere in the low seven figures - a team would be able to race in Moto2 or Moto3 quite comfortably for several seasons.

All this is speculation, for the moment. What we do know is that Tech3 won't be with Yamaha from 2019. Who they will be with, we expect to find out fairly shortly.

Below is the press release announcing the split:


TECH3 AND YAMAHA TO PART WAYS FOR 2019

Yamaha and Tech3 announce that 2018 will be their last season as partners in the FIM Grand Prix MotoGP World Championship.

Gerno di Lesmo, Italy & Bormes les Mimosas, France - 22nd February 2018

After 20 mutually successful years of partnership, Tech3 have informed Yamaha that they will end their collaboration with Yamaha at the end of the 2018 season.

Yamaha have accepted Tech3‘s decision and will provide its full support to the team until the last race of the 2018 season.

Tech3 will continue its participation in the MotoGP (and Moto2) World Championship and will announce its plans for 2019 and beyond at a later date.

Yamaha is in the process of deciding whether they will run a satellite team for 2019 and, if so, what form that collaboration will take.

KOUICHI TSUJI
GENERAL MANAGER MOTORSPORTS DEVELOPMENT DIVISION, YMC | PRESIDENT, YMR

Very recently we were informed by Hervé Poncharal, the owner of Tech3, that he has decided not to extend his contract with Yamaha to lease YZR-M1 bikes. After discussions with Hervé it was clear that he has chosen to align with a new partner for the future and therefore, regretfully, we were obliged to respect and accept his decision.

The end of such a successful partnership is always a bit sad, as it also marks the end of a long-term relationship. We are very grateful for Hervé‘s loyalty and support to the Yamaha brand and for the excellent results obtained throughout that time.

We will continue to provide our full support to the Tech3 team and their riders throughout the 2018 season, while we simultaneously evaluate our options for an alternative team in the MotoGP World Championship class for 2019 and beyond.

HERVÉ PONCHARAL
MONSTER YAMAHA TECH3, OWNER & TEAM PRINCIPAL

To summarize 20 years of an incredible partnership between Tech3 and Yamaha in a few words is a very difficult mission. Since I first met Mr. Iio in 1998, where he gave me the opportunity to join Yamaha Motor Corporation, it has been an extraordinary journey together. All I remember are fantastic memories, great results, an awesome atmosphere and astonishing feelings we shared with the Yamaha family, which will always be in my mind and in my heart. Clearly, to end that kind of partnership is a big decision for me. All I want to say is more than a huge thank you to Yamaha, to Mr. Tsuji, Mr. Tsuya, Mr. Jarvis and Mr. Nakajima, plus all the guys that have been supporting and helping us.

Tech3 is a small company, which has to think about the future and has to weigh the different options. We‘ve been offered a deal, that includes something we‘ve been waiting for almost since we started with Tech3 and I couldn‘t say no. But obviously, we are the Monster Yamaha Team until the last lap of the Valencia GP 2018. Johann Zarco and Hafizh Syahrin will be fighting for top positions and without a doubt, Yamaha can count on us to be a loyal performant partner.

One more time a huge thank you for Yamaha‘s support. I hope they can carry on and have the success they deserve and eventually find a partner to replace Tech3.

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Comments

Carmelo already talked about this last year, and said that extra slots would be added to the grid to accommodate a Sky VR46 team if/when he wants:

“What we want is for Valentino to remain an active part of the championship. Will he have a team? If he wants to, yes.  We will not grant any more licences in MotoGP, apart from if Valentino asks us. If he wants a team in MotoGP, he will have it."

Total votes: 72

Yes, if the VR46 team wanted grid slots, Dorna would find a way to make it happen. However, I don't believe Rossi will want to have his VR46 team in MotoGP while he is still racing. Too much of a distraction. And speaking to him at Sepang, he did not look like a man who had any intention of stopping any time soon. 

Total votes: 75

Great move from Hervé Poncharal and Tech3. Honestly they made my day :) 

This was entirely predictable though and I'm kinda surprised to discover that so few people ever thought about that. 

It seems 100% certain that VR46 team will have a pair of Yamaha in the future. 2021 at worst. it means Tech3 would lose their bike in any case. It was better for Hervé to consider options right now and not to miss the deal KTM is offering. My money is on a deal with KTM , backed by a deal with Petronas and/or Redbull as main sponsors, Coulon involved in development, Zarco on the factory Bike alongside Pol , Oliveira to Tech3 alongside Syahrin. and guess what ? I think it's a very very very promising combination for the future. 

I'm not sure Yamaha did see that coming though. if they were aware , why would they care about Tech3's package ? They could provide a 2017 bike and call it day but they proposed Zarco to choose his Chassis, to have a 2018 aero and likely a better engine compared to what he had last year. those are not signs of a coming divorce in my opinion.  So my guess is Yamaha is facing something they didn't expect at all. 

Same for Rossi/VR46. They wouldn't have let go Bagnaia to Pramac if they were working on a MotoGP VR46 team in my humble opinion. 

I think nobody saw that coming and it's a surprising and tragic mistake from them.  

I feel like I'm watching history in action like If I was looking at the same time at a sunrise and a sunset. 

Total votes: 97

I too think Yamaha is who is truly surprised here and my only worry is that this statement, "We will continue to provide our full support to the Tech3 team and their riders throughout the 2018 season", holds true throughout the season and isn't just politcal bs.  

Total votes: 65

But, why can’t Sky VR46 be the official factory Yamaha team?

(A bit like Roberts back in the day)

Rossi has all the links to the factory, brings the Sky sponsorship to the table, and if a team has his name on it, he might want a deal where his riders get current factory bikes (like Pramac and LCR get) rather than the hand-me-downs that Yamaha has historically given to Tech 3

There’s probably some obvious reason that I’m too dense to see!

Total votes: 78

The current 6 satellite teams have a binding contract through 2021 that specifically does not allow any new slots except if LCR wanted a second bike. What Carmelo really said was Rossi has a slot any time he wants with the caveat that he didn’t suspect anyone would object and would vote unanimously to allow it. That does not appear to be the case as Herve himself said he wouldn’t vote to allow it because it devalues his and other teams as they know fighting against a Rossi led team for sponsorship will be extremely difficult.

Total votes: 63

This might be the biggest story of the silly season. My guess is Tech3 will have Factory KTM's next season with Zarco still on board. 

Total votes: 56

yamaha lose team and rider who came dangerously close to besting their golden boy.

Total votes: 93

guy coloun must absoultely drooling over the thought of working for a team whose philosophy seems to be "if you can dream it, we'll build it for you."

Total votes: 92

Maybe what Hervé was also looking is to finally have fresh bikes of the year and not old ones and be always one step lower. Well, we'll see this year if this applies with this Yamaha 2015ish with 2018 engine and wings...

Otherwise, Pablo Nieto is already running the SKY Racing Team by VR46 in Moto 2, so could this lead to have the current Angel Nieto team run by his brother Gelete running Yamahas and later turn into a VR46 team? I mean, there are getting a Ducati GP17 and a GP16 this year. This would be a step up as well.

I love silly season...

Total votes: 87

I wonder where this leaves Bradley Smith.

Total votes: 60

It might actually give him a second avenue to stay in MotoGP.  Clearly he needs to perform in 2018, but now if the factory KTM seat isn't offered to him for 2019 then perhaps he could fill a development role in the Tech3 sattelite team.  Bradley is well respected for his feedback to help refine a package.  In fact that is partly what he attributed to a lackluster 2017 racing results, thinking too much about the long term vision and not enough about the weekend.

https://motomatters.com/interview/2017/10/10/bradley_smith_interview_run...

"I'm the first one to admit that I've under performed this year," admits Bradley Smith as he looks ahead to the final races of the MotoGP 2017 season. "I can't really pinpoint exactly why that is. I think that I've put in the effort and the focus but I've not understood what I needed to do to get the most from the KTM. I think that I've done a great job with the development of the bike and I've embraced the role of developing the bike. At some times I've probably focused on that too much rather than racing."

Total votes: 62

With the sudden departure of Folger, the rush to find an available and fast rider ending in signing Syahrin to a divorce from Yamaha I can only imagine that the crew and Zarco must be reeling at this moment.  Though if there is one rider out there who can compartmentalize the work of racing and get on with the job regardless of the chaos around him, it is the Frenchman Zarco.  What a story it could be if he continues to fight for podiums and wins in 2018 on the outdated 2016 chassis Yamaha only to arrive at KTM factory level equipment in 2019 and write the next chapter in the history books.  

Total votes: 70

Not that he needs any additional motivation but what a way for Zarco (& Herve) to walk away from Yamaha - beating both their factory riders.

Total votes: 55

hopefully the change will mean johann gets the check he deserves. stay healthy, mon ami !

Total votes: 52

Holy shite!

Herve gets full factory bikes from KTM. Yamaha, you are neglectful of the potential of satellite synergy. Herve was a VERY patient "customer." A few times (Crutchlow comes first to mind) you said things that you did not do re kit provided. You shat yourselves. Do better next time w the next satellite squad.

Great write up David.

Zarco will be in Orange. The up and coming KTM kids will be w Herve.

SKY46 is coming, and I think sooner than later. They won't merge with an existing (Angel Nieto) team, they will start fresh. Either bought slots or new ones from DORNA. One thing I disagree with is that Vale will foreshadow this long before or clearly. He will just, as per his usual way, give it a good go right up until he announces his new positive big fun thing. He won't belabor it, or criticize circumstances. It could be in the works NOW alongside the effort with continuing racing himself.

As we can see, lots is going on quickly. Except of course all these years of Yamaha passing mild kit/little factory contract help w riders relative to Honda and Ducati. And now Yamaha has less data and hands on bikes to fuel their project. Fooking disappointing! Yamaha doesn't much value having the second team there as part of the program, so it is conceivable that they are ok with going without next year.

SKY46 buys one of the 3rd or 4th Duc team grid slots. Soon. More likely than no satellite plan for Yamaha is that they have an alternate plan they have been cultivating. Teams want their bikes, even now. Rossi has been moving towards having a team. There is is a pull now, and his Peter Pan inclination towards interesting options is just as important as a push from an incalcitrant bike and field swallowing up the front 4 pointy end finishing places. "Wow! This sounds perfect!" hails the whole Vale organization.

Oh, and Smith won't be on either KTM team. Zarco is Factory. Herve pays a fee more in line w what Ducati charges, gets full fat bikes and a bigger role with the project. KTM gets Herve whole team of MotoGP experience and talent! KTM is moving forward. This is good! All is well.

Yamaha - SKY46, and now to you to do your thing.

Total votes: 79

I find it hard to see Valentino taking on the role of a new Herve. I guess you could say he will be fostering new talent and bla bla, but in reality the guy only wants to win.  That will go for his team just as much as his riding.  I can't see VR having any enthusiasm to go out there every race with the best hope of maybe getting on the podium if the cards fall just right.  I can only really see him running the whole Yamaha racing operation, factory team etc.  Where this fits in with the current shenanigans is unclear.

Top move by Herve methinks, presuming it is KTM as we all expect it to be.  Yam had already told him that VR would take priority for running a satellite team, so in the face of that, why would you hang around waiting for the axe to fall?  He obviously runs a very tight team, with excellent staff, and teamed with KTM it seems things will only improve for him.  Well done HP!

Total votes: 84

As much as I adore amd admire what Valentino Rossi has done for the sport, if VR46 continues to become an even more powerful force (due to Rossi fans attendence and TV ratings and when Rossi retires and he will retires), then it may well be a case in the futre of the tail wagging the dog. Now that will be a retrograde step IMHO.

You cannot change the rules due to one man and one team or can you when there are $£€ involved. I would still like to know how much Dorna paid Rossi to get back on the bike on Crutches after his serious accident and compound fracture.

Total votes: 62

This is the greatest thing Herve (A real Gentleman), could have done to Yamaha.

Reward for 20 years loyalty, stay as long as you like, until VR wants a team. Pisspoor form :(

Dorna with the 24 bike grid 'Rule', unless of course VR wants a team??? Pisspoor form again :(

Well played Herve, do your own thing and leave them both in a hole. I LUV it :)

 

Total votes: 85

over any of these developments.  I fear KTM will be unable to take the necessary steps to be truly competitive and the prospect of Zarco's brilliance dimmed in midfield depresses me. 

Yamaha likewise: so close and yet so far.  Given a good bike Vinales and Rossi could both challenge for the title but that good bike seems to be drowned in the sea of 1's and 0's flooding the tuning fork's engineering department.  

And all the while the joker's smile lights the night sky in Catalonia.....

Total votes: 72

I hear you friend. Same as my first response to Zarco in Orange. But, the Yamaha factory bike is in a downturn that may be a couple of seasons, like the Honda just did. It is possible that Ducati and Honda are preferable bikes for an even longer time, who knows?

We do know though that 2019 it is the Honda to beat. And Ducati to have a go, extrapolating from this snapshot in time. And as folks are chiming in about the factory with the most potential for improvement is KTM. I am enjoying now seeing Rins massage the Suzuki up near the front pack. So my second response was Hooray for the coming KTM surge over the coming era that began 2015. Most improved and mid pack battles are a big source of joy.

Ducati came back. Suzuki returned, but is a more tepid project. We got KTM. KTM got an ALIEN! Third response? There are a couple more young Astronauts getting in the sky now, and Factory Yamaha will have one soon. And with booster rockets from SKY perhaps we can see something remarkable coming.

Tech3 w mild kit Yamahas won't be missed so much will it? And that 4th Duc team, any tears shed? Further, a few things have REALLY bothered me in the circus over the years. When they resolve it is WONDERFUL. Honda was an overdog to start the 4 stroke era. Ale went to Yam. But more importantly for me was DORNA shifting the balance of power in which Honda was dictating rules. That was seriously bugging me! I was so...appreciative. The electronics were too much. Turn by turn drove me nuts. And a two manu championship. Spec electronics - resolved. Here came Ducati. And Suzuki returned, with their Mitsubullshite achilles gone. Appreciative!

Here is another, right now transforming. Much like these others, Yamaha and their having Tech3 as a mere customer. With a set of bikes damned from excellence bar miracle or odd circumstance. AND having FOUR Ducati teams, including one that is "pay-to-play-backmarker" grid fill. No offense Avintia. We are in the midst of a brilliant transformation.

I hear you about our current Zarco potential to mount a championship challenge in Blue, and Yamaha to perk back up. It is a loss. But I am seeing eggs breaking for quite an omelette. Remember "if only Ducati had an Alien" longings? I am eager to get Zarco in Orange, and the KTM project to carve right through the blue dusty fart that Yamaha needs to blink out of their vision.

Total votes: 68

** clicker, or * clicker below, why not join with some narrative? Do tell, what is your insightful take? Sincerely, share some thoughts. We are likely the better for multiple perspectives.

Total votes: 75

However as a big off road fan as well, I agree with eddy below, seeing how they came and eventually conquered the MX/SX realm, how they just kept added all the best peices to the puzzle until they had the best of everything, that unless they suddenly decide they're done with MGP, KTM will get to the top. 2020 sounds about right to me...

Total votes: 75

KTM is used to utter dominance.  For those of us that follow Dakar and other offroad activities, KTM is at the pinnacle.  Niche, yes, but the gold standard never the less.  Look at AMA SX or the World Championship MX, KTM or their upscale rebadge Husqvarna, have the best riders and excellent equipment.  Winning has become their norm and they won't settle for anything but that.  Others have said, where is the tie into their marketplace right?  I believe it's not just tie in they're looking for.  They want to be seen as the best and won't settle for anything else.  Red Bull advertises on everything they touch. While Honda does have RB involvement, it is nothing compared to how entwined RB and KTM are.  I don't believe for a second that KTM will hover around midpack.  Watch out Big 4, they are coming for you.  

Total votes: 69

At short notice it is a bit sour that it is unlikely that the most adorable sattelite bikes will not ride in 2019.....and two new talents will not get a opportunity to race them.
 

Total votes: 64

I don't buy the whole "Yamaha can't do 6 bikes" thing.  The Forward squad raced (2yr old?) M1s with open electronics for 2 years.

 

Total votes: 73

As KTM has two active brands their standard policy in motorsport has been running two factory teams also - in Dakar, enduro, motocross and so on. This also allows running two different title sponsors, typically Rockstar Energy instead of Red Bull. So - if Herve's dream is to run the factory team there is a way to do this now. 

Total votes: 69

Honda have made a start, mind, with Cal doing so much testing. I’m referring to embracing their satellite team. While KTM build strategic partnerships for 2019 et seq, work to develop the bike, aero, and secure a rider line up with future championship winning capacity, Ducati are already there. I’m not surprised Hervé has decided he has to move on to secure his team’s long term future. Yamaha seem lost. He and Guy won’t want to be there, in those roles, forever. MotoGP is a younger person’s sport. Wouldn’t they both have been retired by now had they worked for Honda? VR46 has no MotoGP team, are we saying they couldn’t have bought out Tech Three when the time came and kept the brand loyalty and expertise built up over years? I used to think Yamaha had the smartest people in the paddock but I think they’ve been comprehensively outmanoeuvred. Had their chance but lacked the capacity to get their ducks lined up in a row. Where does this leave us? I'm by no means convinced that the results in testing at the circuits used so far point to a runaway Honda championship. For example, will making the Honda more rideable slow Marc, more controversially, could the new aero limit his ability to make those astonishing saves etc? With the apparent muddle at Yamaha, the lack of ambition at Suzuki, Aprilia’s limitations, I think the championship is Ducati’s to lose. I don’t think they will and I don’t think they intend to stop at one. 

Total votes: 76

anyone else see Cals comments egging on riders to make a ballsy move this season?

i wonder who he's referring to? Seemingly his future HRC seat hes after.

next surprise move is DP going to the factory team - just saying

Total votes: 98

Even if Rossi is denying a VR46 SKY team, why wouldn't he move his side of the garage over to one of the Tech 3 Slots and leave Vinales to his own devices.  This way, and most assuredly, Vale would still get Factory Spec and not have to feud with his teammate.  Then the other slot can be for whomever the VR46 wants to put there. 

Seems like a win to me.  Blue Factory Yamaha can get two factory riders, meanwhile, Rossi gets is own garage and maybe even the ol' Yellow Nastro sponsor again.  

Now that would be a dream!

Total votes: 53