The announcement that Team Scot and the JiR team of Luca Montiron were to split up has raised questions in the paddock about what effect this will have on the size of the grid, and how the spoils would be divided. It was generally assumed that Montiron's role in MotoGP was finished, and that Team Scot, having turned the worst team in the paddock into a model of efficiency, would stay in MotoGP, most likely with Yuki Takahashi, their current 250cc rider, taking the seat Andrea Dovizioso will vacate when he leaves for Repsol Honda.
But in an interview with GPOne.com's Alberto Cani, Montiron claimed that he will have a Honda, a title sponsor, and either Alex de Angelis or Nicky Hayden as a rider for next year. Montiron told GPOne.com that he has already presented his plans to Honda, and that these plans would include a big-name rider. Montiron confirmed that Alex de Angelis is one of the riders he is interested in. The other "big name " is believed to be Nicky Hayden, but Hayden is almost certain to sign with Ducati for 2009.
De Angelis could be available because of the shake-up at Gresini Honda. Marco Melandri now looks certain to return to the team he left at the end of last season, and with whom he has a regular race winner. But with Hayden now set to leave for Ducati, American Honda is believed to be putting pressure on Gresini to sign Ben Spies. Honda needs an American on board one of its bikes to help sell its machines in the vast US market. With the prospect of Spies signing a deal with Suzuki for next year, Gresini - with promises of factory support - could be his next best prospect.
Part of Spies' problem has been his reputed $2 million asking price. Suzuki has been reluctant to cough up that much money, but American Honda could well be persuaded to foot the bill, if it keeps an American on a Honda. It certainly looks like Spies' only option if he is unwilling to drop his pay demands.
This is of course still mostly speculation, but as the summer draws to a close, contracts are getting closer and closer to being signed. Stay tuned.