Valentino Rossi has lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the penalty imposed upon him at Sepang for his role in the incident between Marc Marquez and himself. Rossi has asked the CAS to issue a stay of the penalty, effectively suspending it until the full case can be heard before the court. A ruling on the stay is to be issued by 6th November.
The penalty was imposed on Rossi after he and Marquez collided on lap seven of the Sepang round of MotoGP, causing Marquez to crash. At the time, Race Direction ruled that Rossi was to blame for the crash, and imposed three penalty points on Rossi. That brought his points total to four, meaning that he must start at Valencia from the back of the grid, regardless of the position he obtains in qualifying. Rossi immediately appealed against the penalty to the FIM Stewards, who sit in judgment at every MotoGP round to rule on Race Direction penalties.
With the Race Stewards upholding the Race Direction penalty, Rossi could no longer take his appeal any further within the FIM. However, he did have the possibility to take the case to the CAS, which rules on conflicts between interested parties (usually athletes) and the international federations and governing bodies of sports. Rossi had five days to submit an appeal, deciding to go ahead with the appeal on final day.
Normally, the CAS takes between 6 and 12 months to handle cases, and because it takes so long, Rossi has appealed for a temporary suspension of the penalty, under section R37 of CAS' procedural rules. Under that rule, Rossi can claim that upholding the penalty will cause "irreparable harm" to his MotoGP career and season. Two other factors are also taken into account: firstly, the merits of the claim, and lastly, whether Rossi's interests are greater than those of Race Direction, who imposed the penalty upon him. Under CAS rules, they will have to consult with Race Direction before ruling on whether or not to suspend Rossi's penalty.
The goal of the request for a suspension of the penalty is simple. By having the three-point penalty suspended, Rossi will not have to start from the back of the grid, having collected just a single penalty point outside of Sepang this year. He would start from the position in which he qualifies. If Rossi should then lose the case when the full CAS hearing is held, then the penalty would be applied at the next race after the CAS rules. That would likely be at the earliest in the first part of the 2016 MotoGP season. Theoretically, if Rossi were to retire after his contract expires in 2016, and the CAS take 12 months or more to issue a ruling, Rossi may end up not being penalized at all.
If the request for suspension is denied, then the grid penalty will be applied at Valencia, and Rossi will start from the back of the grid. If he subsequently goes on to win the appeal at the CAS, the penalty points would be subtracted retrospectively. However, given the fact that Rossi would have had to start from the back of the grid, winning the appeal would be meaningless in terms of the 2015 season.
What is the likely outcome of the request for suspension? It is very hard to say. Rossi has a case when he says that being forced to start from the back of the grid would cause him irreparable harm. However, that was precisely the point of Race Direction imposing this penalty, a case they will make for not granting the suspension. That will be the basis of the decision on whether Rossi's interests outweigh Race Direction's, as the penalty was meant to provide a specific punishment. Whether the CAS will decide that Rossi's claim has any merits is not clear. As the original decision of Race Direction was upheld by the FIM Stewards, the balance appears to be against Rossi. The CAS will make a ruling before or on 6th November 2015, in time for qualifying at Valencia.
To simplify the situation, here is a timeline of what has happened, and what happens next:
- After the collision at Sepang, Race Direction imposed a penalty of three penalty points on Valentino Rossi.
- Those points brought Rossi's total to four, meaning he must start Valencia from the back of the grid.
- Rossi appealed against the decision by Race Direction to the FIM Stewards.
- The FIM Stewards upheld the decision by Race Direction, meaning that the three penalty points stand.
- Rossi has appealed that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), who will take between 6 and 12 months to hear the case.
Because the penalty will affect the outcome of the 2015 championship, Rossi has appealed for the penalty to be suspended until the CAS makes its final ruling.
- If the CAS suspend the penalty, Rossi will start the Valencia race from the position in which he qualifies.
- If the CAS refuse to suspend the penalty, Rossi will start the Valencia race from the back of the grid.
- The CAS will give a final ruling on the case once the hearings are finished, at some point 6 to 12 months in the future.
- No appeal is possible against the ruling of the CAS, unless at some point, the whole procedure is found to have breached Swiss law.
In a further twist, the CAS rules allow third parties to be involved in the case. Theoretically, that would allow Jorge Lorenzo, or even Marc Marquez to get involved in the case. As the current situation has already devolved into a PR disaster for Yamaha, having Lorenzo involved would only make things worse.
The official press release from the CAS appears below, and underneath that, the press release from the FIM:
FIM MOTOGP CHAMPIONSHIP 2015
VALENTINO ROSSI FILES AN APPEAL AT THE COURT OF ARBITRATION FOR SPORT (CAS)
Lausanne, 30 October 2015 – Italian MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi has filed an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the FIM Stewards’ decision to impose 3 penalty points on his record following an incident with another rider during the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix race held on 25 October 2015.
The FIM Race Direction found that Mr Rossi deliberately ran wide in order to force the other rider off line, resulting in contact causing the other rider to crash out of the race. For this breach of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations (the FIM Regulations), the FIM Race Direction imposed 3 penalty points on the rider’s record. Mr Rossi immediately appealed such decision to the FIM Stewards who dismissed the appeal and confirmed the penalty imposed by the FIM Race Direction. Since Valentino Rossi already has 1 penalty point from an earlier incident, this decision brings him to a total of 4 penalty points. On the basis of the FIM Regulations, a rider with 4 penalty points must start the next race from last grid position.
In his appeal to the CAS, Mr Rossi seeks the annulment of the penalty, or at least a reduction from 3 points to 1. Together with his appeal, Mr Rossi has filed an urgent application to stay the execution of the challenged decision in order not to lose his place on the starting grid at the next, and last, event of the season which will be held in Valencia/Spain on 6-8 November 2015.
An arbitration procedure is in progress. A decision on Mr Rossi’s request for a stay is expected to be issued no later than 6 November 2015.
VALENTINO ROSSI APPEALS FIM STEWARDS’ DECISION
Rider Valentino Rossi appeals FIM Stewards’ decision
On the basis of Article 3.4.2, para 3 of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations, Mr Valentino Rossi has filed an Appeal against the decision taken by the Race Direction of the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix in Sepang, penultimate round of the FIM MotoGP Grand Prix World Championship, and confirmed by the FIM Stewards, to award 3 penalty points to Mr Rossi following an incident on Turn 14.
In appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Mr Rossi seeks annulment or reduction of the penalty. He further requests stay of execution of the decision in accordance with Article R37 of the Code of Sports-Related Arbitration.
The FIM will not comment any further at this time.
Alex De Angelis is home at last. After spending nearly two weeks in a hospital in Japan, recovering from serious injuries suffered in a big smash at Motegi, the Iodaracing rider was flown home on Sunday, where he received further treatment in the State Hospital of San Marino. With the doctors happy that he was well enough to go home, De Angelis was discharged from hospital yesterday.
Given the severity of his injuries - fractured vertebrae, broken ribs and a badly bruised lung - De Angelis faces a long rehabilitation process. He will have to wear a back brace for 45 days, undergo continuous medical checks and start physical rehabiliation to recover his fitness. The doctors have ruled out a return to racing in the short term, but say that it may be possible for De Angelis to be fit for MotoGP testing in Sepang, at the start of February 2016.
The Iodaracing press release appears below:
ALEX DE ANGELIS DISCHARGED FROM THE HOSPITAL
Terni, 28 October 2015 – The Team e-motion Iodaracing MotoGP rider, Alex De Angelis, was discharged from the Hospital of the State of San Marino and returned home this afternoon.
De Angelis was the victim of a terrible accident in the Japanese GP FP4, spent about two weeks in the intensive care unit at the University Hospital of Dokkyo in Mibu. Later he was transferred to Italy and subsequently transported to the State Hospital of San Marino where he stayed for just 48 hours.
The conditions of Alex De Angelis are continuous and constant improvement so that doctors do not rule out his return to the track for testing session of the MotoGP next February 2016. Until then, De Angelis will have to wear a corset for about 45 days, undergo to constant checks and follow physiotherapy necessary to return in top shape.
ALEX DE ANGELIS – MOTOGP RIDER - ”I’m really happy to be back home. This is a very positive sign for me and I’m looking forward to getting back to train. The doctors have ruled out for the time I come back on my bike, but it’s ok because in the winter however you cannot try or ride. I will use this time to get back in shape and to get to the first test of the next year ready for the season. Once again I want to thank all the medical staff who assisted me both in Japan and in San Marino. Thanks again to the Clinica Mobile and to all the fans and friends that make me feel their closeness, even when I was away. “
Valentino Rossi Given Three Penalty Points For Marquez Clash - Will Start From Back Of Grid At Valencia
Valentino Rossi has been given three penalty points for his clash with Marc Marquez during the MotoGP race at Sepang. The pair tussled after Jorge Lorenzo passed Marquez for second place early in the race, but Marquez put up a much stiffer battle against Rossi. The pair swapped places starting on lap three, the battle getting tougher as the race went on. Marquez did everything in his power to stay ahead of Rossi and slow him up - well outside the spirit of the rules, but still inside the letter of the rules - treating the spectators to fifteen passes in just a couple of laps, culminating in nine passes in just a single lap. Rossi grew increasingly frustrated, and in his frustration, tried to push Marquez out wide, slowing all the time. As Marquez turned in, the two made contact, and Marquez crashed.
After the race, Race Direction held a meeting with both Rossi and Marquez, which lasted nearly an hour. Video of the incident was reviewed and shown to the riders, and they were asked for their side of the story. After reviewing the evidence, Race Direction concluded that Rossi had deliberately pushed Marquez wide, and that this action had caused the contact, and therefore caused Marquez to crash. Because of the severity of the incident, Rossi was awarded three penalty points. As he already had one penalty point from Misano, for riding slowly on the racing line during qualifying, his total is now four, and he will have to start the final race of the season at Valencia from the back of the grid. For a full explanation of the decision by Race Direction, see the interview with Mike Webb on the Crash.net website.
Rossi's race result - the Italian finished in third place, behind Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo - will stand, leaving him just seven points ahead in the title chase.
Below is the official sanction from Race Direction:
FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix - Decision of the Race Direction
On 25th October 2015 during the MotoGP race of the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, rider #46 Valentino Rossi deliberately ran wide on Turn 14 in order to force another rider off line, resulting in contact causing the other rider to crash.
This is considered to be irresponsible riding causing danger to other competitors and is therefore an infringement of Article 1.21.2 of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations.
Valentino Rossi was requested to attend a Race Direction hearing. Both riders involved were present at the hearing, both gave testimony, and video evidence was reviewed.
The decision of the Race Direction is to impose on rider #46 the addition of 3 penalty points on your record, according to Article 3.2.1. of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Disciplinary and Arbitration Code.
Valentino Rossi lodged an appeal with the FIM Stewards against the decision of the Race Direction. He was requested to attend another hearing with the FIM Stewards.
The FIM Stewards unanimously confirmed the Penalty Imposed by the Race Direction.
According to Art. 22.214.171.124 of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations no further appeal may be lodged when FIM Stewards confirm the previous decision of the Race Direction.
Since the rider already had 1 previous penalty point, the sanction for accumulating 4 penalty points is to start the next race from the back of the grid. Thus Valentino Rossi will start the Gran Premio MOTUL de la Communicat Valenciana from the last position of the grid.
Mika Kallio is to be KTM's test rider to help with the development of their MotoGP bike. The 32-year-old Finnish rider is to make a return to the Austrian manufacturer and work to get the KTM RC16 ready for its debut season in MotoGP in 2017.
Kallio has a long association with the Austrian marque. He rode for them for four seasons both in 125s and 250s, finishing as runner up twice in the junior class, most controversially in 2005, when he lost out to Tom Luthi by five points after his erstwhile KTM teammate Gabor Talmacsi stole the win from him at Qatar. When KTM decided to pull out of Grand Prix racing at the end of the 2008 season, out of frustration at the decision to abandon two-stroke racing in the intermediate class, Kallio was forced to leave, moving up to MotoGP with Pramac Ducati.
After two years in Ducati, Kallio returned to Moto2, where he was once again championship runner up in 2014. He has not had the same level of success since leaving the Marc VDS team, despite starting the 2015 season on essentially the same bike. Approaching the age of 33, and with only mediocre results this season, Kallio may have decided he has a better future testing with KTM. From KTM's perspective, Kallio already has two years in MotoGP with Pramac Ducati, and worked as a test rider for the Suter MotoGP project which ran under the CRT rules in 2012.
Kallio is the latest in a list of names to come up for the position. Nicky Hayden had long been linked to the ride, but the American was keen to stay racing, and so joined the Ten Kate Honda team in World Superbikes for 2016. KTM had also been in talks with the AB Motor Racing team since Assen, with a view to taking Karel Abraham as a test rider, but Abraham was also keen to keep racing, and has a serious ankle injury that is still recovering.
Kallio will be joined by Alex Hofmann, former MotoGP rider and for the past few years, test rider for Aprilia in both MotoGP and World Superbikes. Hofmann joined KTM earlier this year, and will be taking the first ride on the RC16, giving it its first shakedown. Kallio will be charged with trying to push the limits of the bike, to help prepare the RC16 for its race debut in 2017.
Below is the press release from KTM on the signing:
MIKA KALLIO TO BE KTM MOTOGP TEST RIDER
Finland’s Mika Kallio returns to KTM next season as test rider for the MotoGP project.
KTM made the decision about one year ago to enter competition in the premier class of MotoGP as of the 2017 season. The company was then faced with the task of making all the preparations for a successful entry into this class of motorsport in a relatively short time. By securing the services of Mika Kallio, staffing for the test team is now completed. A new Motorsport Center, currently under construction will also be ready in mid-2016.
Pit Beirer (Motorsport Director): “In addition to the technical and infrastructure challenges, the topic of personnel was no less important in the first stage of the project. By hiring Mika Kallio we now have our core team for MotoGP and are able to take the next steps. In accordance with our planning, the motor has been running on the test benches since the beginning of July. The next step will be the first roll out with Alex Hofmann, former Grand Prix rider and now commentator for MotoGP on Eurosport.”
Mike Leitner (MotoGP Consultant): “We opted for Mika Kallio because of his successful past association with KTM and not least because of his experience and success in all classes. It is not only with us that he has proved his ability as an excellent racer and test rider. He wants, and above all can push himself to the limit and this can be decisive in the development of the KTM RC16.”
Mika Kallio: „KTM has played an important role in my career. When I first heard about their MotoGP 2017 plan, I realised that it might be a perfect chance for me to return to the Orange family. I am excited about our co-operation, since I respect KTM’s know-how and way of working. I am eager to use my vast riding experience and analytic skills to do an excellent job as their test rider. My heart is set on this project and even though I will miss racing next year, I believe the best times are still ahead.“
Mika Kallio joined KTM in the MotoGP World Championship in 2003 and went on to win two vice world championship titles in the 125cc class in 2005 and 2006 before he moved up to the 250cc class in 2007, also with KTM. After taking third in the world championship in 2008, he advanced to MotoGP in 2009, where he was named “Rookie of the Year” in his first season of competition. Following a protracted shoulder injury he returned to the new four-stroke Moto2 class, where he has been successfully competing since 2011 to become a vice world champion again in 2014.
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Since Forward Racing boss Giovanni Cuzari was arrested on charges of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion earlier this year, the team's places in MotoGP have been in jeopardy. Yamaha immediately stopped its support for the team, meaning that Forward did not have bikes for the 2016 MotoGP season. After his release from arrest, and, according to his lawyer, the dropping of the charges of corruption, Cuzari was confident he would be allowed back on to the MotoGP grid, and was in talks with both Aprilia and Ducati for the supply of bikes. His fate, Cuzari told us at Misano, was in the hands of Carmelo Ezpeleta.
The head of Dorna appears to have decided that Forward Racing's future does not lie in the premier class, at least for the foreseeable future. Today, Forward Racing announced they will not be racing in MotoGP, but will be turning their focus towards the World Superbike championship. Forward will be working with MV Agusta to assist with their World Superbike and World Supersport efforts from 2016. Cuzari has been appointed Team Principal for the team, and given responsibility for MV Agusta's racing department.
This is not Forward Racing taking over the running of the MV Agusta team, however, according to dedicated WSBK journalist Marien Cahuzak. MV Agusta have brought in the technical expertise of Forward - in the shape of mechanics and engineers - to help with the factory's own racing efforts. The MV Agusta team will remain a factory effort, but will be staffed by members of Forward Racing.
The press release issued by Forward Racing contained a few intriguing details. Marco Melandri has been engaged as a test rider for MV Agusta, to help develop the F4 RC. There is no mention of whether Melandri will be racing for MV Agusta next season. It is known that Melandri was looking for a ride in World Superbikes, after leaving Aprilia's MotoGP project and finding himself unwanted by any of the existing teams. His stated aim has always been to continue racing. Whether this deal will allow him to is unclear.
The other detail in the press release is the mention of a return to MotoGP. The Forward release makes specific mention of the rule changes in 2017. Those rule changes are chiefly to the way the teams are financed, making it cheaper for teams to compete. There are no new technical regulations expected in 2017, the biggest changes coming in 2016, with the introduction of spec electronics and the switch to Michelin tires. Whether a manufacturer of the scale of MV Agusta (sales projections are for 12,000 bikes in 2015) can compete with the likes of Honda and Yamaha, or even Ducati, which sold 45,000 bikes last year, is an open question. Costs have come down in MotoGP in recent years, but overall factory MotoGP budgets are still in the range of several tens of millions of euros, excluding rider salaries. With total sales projections of €120 million, it seems improbable that MV Agusta could afford something like a third of that to put into MotoGP. By comparison, Ducati, the smallest of the manufacturers involved in MotoGP, had a turnover of over €600 million in 2013. What's more, Ducati is believed to receive something north of €20 million in sponsorship from Phillip Morris, to help cover their costs. That kind of partnership is unlikely to happen for MV Agusta.
Forward Racing may have lost their grid slots in MotoGP, but their Moto2 team will continue in 2016. The press release from Forward Racing appears below.
Forward Racing in support of MV Agusta in WSBK and in WSS in 2016
The Swiss team, competing in Moto2 since 2009, in MotoGP since 2012 and Open World Champion in 2014, will provide to the racing department of the legendary Schiranna factory the experience gained in the top division to continue to succeed in WSS, grow in WSBK and in the future reach together the premier class of motorcycle racing. Both teams, in light of the regulations changes in 2017, aim to work to reach the pinnacle of motorcycle racing, where the Italian brand has built his legend by winning 75 world championships (38 riders and 37 manufacturers).
Forward Racing chairman, Giovanni Cuzari, will assume from next season the role of Team Principal of both teams competing respectively in WSBK and WSS Championship and will then have the full responsibility of the MV Agusta Racing Department.
In the coming weeks an exceptional test rider, one of the most beloved Italian racers, will start working on the project: Marco Melandri. The rider from Ravenna, former 250cc world champion, will join the development team of the 2016 F4 RC.
"I'm really pleased to announce that an agreement has been found with MV Agusta: for a long time we have been aiming to cooperate with an important manufacturer and we have finally succeeded. Working with one of the most iconic brand of Italian motorcycling is a great honor and a privilege for me. MV Agusta represents the best the Made in Italy can offer and this collaboration will surely be a great growth opportunity for all in order to reach the top of WSBK and to aim for MotoGP. I am also proud of sealing this agreement with Giovanni Castiglioni, longtime friend of mine as was his father Claudio.
Giovanni, who together with his family brought back the name of this historical reality from Varese, has put his trust on me and on the experience of our group and I am convinced we can achieve the goals we set ourselves".
More good news on Alex De Angelis' condition. Earlier today, the Ioda Racing team issued a press release announcing that De Angelis had been cleared to fly home by the doctors at the Dokkyo University Hospital.
After eight days in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, doctors are no longer listing him as being in critical condition. With De Angelis no longer critical, he will be able to fly home to San Marino, where he will receive further treatment in the State Hospital in the tiny mountain microstate.
The man from San Marino will not be able to fly straight away. The team announced that it will take up to ten days to prepare De Angelis for the long journey home, and arrange the details of his medical transport. He is still being assisted by Dr. Michele Zasa of the Clinica Mobile, who has stayed with De Angelis throughout.
In their statement, the team thanked the Dokkyo hospital for their care and treatment of De Angelis, but they also thanked Dr. Zasa and the Clinica Mobile for their care and assistance, and Dorna and IRTA for their help in arranging his care and transport. They also expressed their gratitude to the marshals and medical services at the Motegi Circuit.
Tito Rabat is to fly home for further treatment on the arm he broke in a training accident a week before Motegi. Rabat was forced to skip the Japanese round of Moto2 due to a lack of strength in the arm, still weak from surgery to insert a plate over the fractured bone.
Rabat was strong enough to start practice for the Australian round, the Marc VDS Racing rider suffered a big crash in the final corner at Phillip Island during FP2. Though initial examination showed he had suffered no further injury, a further examination revealed the possibility of a displaced bone fragment. With the title already settled in Johann Zarco's favor, Rabat decided to fly home for treatment to prepare himself for the final round of Moto2 at Valencia. This means he will miss both this weekend's race at Phillip Island, and the race next weekend at Sepang.
Though Rabat will want to be strong at his final race in Moto2, the other, more obvious reason for Rabat to concentrate on recovery is the fact that he is to switch to the MotoGP class for 2016 with the Marc VDS squad. The Valencia test - which starts on Tuesday rather than Monday, because of the many technical changes for 2016 - is the first chance Rabat will get to ride the Honda RC213V in 2016 spec, complete with spec software and Michelin tires. With the title gone, Rabat is now focusing on 2016.
Below is the press release from the Marc VDS team:
Rabat to fly home for further treatment
Phillip Island, Australia – 17 October 2016: Tito Rabat will tomorrow head home to Spain, where he will undergo further examination and possible surgery on the left arm injured two weeks ago in a training crash at Almeria.
The former Moto2 World Champion crashed heavily in the fast final turn at Phillip Island yesterday, during the second free practice session ahead of the Australian Grand Prix. Precautionary x-rays showed no additional damage to the left arm injury, but the possibility of a displaced bone fragment was identified during a further examination today.
Rabat will return to Barcelona for a more detailed assessment of the injury and will miss the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang, staying in Europe to recuperate fully ahead of the final race of the season in Valencia instead.
“The crash yesterday left me with no other option; I need to return home for further treatment as soon as possible, so that I have the maximum amount of time to recover ahead of the final race of the season in Valencia. I would like to say thank you to the medical staff at the circuit here at Phillip Island and also to the MotoGP medical team for the good job that they’ve done, both with my rehabilitation from the original injury and for quickly identifying the possibility of further damage after my crash yesterday. Now my focus is solely on recovery, ready for the race in Valencia and the new adventure in MotoGP that starts the Tuesday after.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“The original injury wasn’t the problem for Tito here in Australia or in Japan, but rather it was a lack of strength in his left arm following the surgery. With the physiotherapy that Tito has been doing since the operation the strength was starting to return, so it made sense for him to come to the overseas races and test the injury on the bike. The crash yesterday has changed that, as there is a possibility that it dislodged a bone fragment in his damaged arm that may require further treatment. It’s disappointing for Tito, but the positive thing is that he will be sufficiently recovered to race in Valencia and then test the MotoGP bike on the Tuesday after the final race of the season.”
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To the surprise of absolutely nobody, in the press conference at Phillip Island, Jack Miller announced that he would be riding for the Marc VDS Estrella Galicia 0,0 team in 2016. It had long been known that Miller would end up at the team, but there was still the question of a few loose ends to tie up. With those tidied up, Miller's home GP was the obvious place to announce his future plans.
The Australian will move to Marc VDS along with his crew chief, Cristian Gabarrini, and the rest of his pit crew. As Miller is contracted to and paid for by HRC, it was a simple matter for them to move the mechanics and engineers from LCR to Marc VDS. Miller will have a standard satellite Honda RC213V next year, the same spec as that of his current teammate, Cal Crutchlow, and new teammate Tito Rabat.
There were one or two obstacles to Miller's move to Marc VDS, not least the broken pre-contract the Australian signed with the team to race in Moto2. Miller was supposed to join Marc VDS in 2014, but Aki Ajo - also Miller's personal manager - persuaded him to stay in Moto3 with the Red Bull KTM team. The legal dispute over that contract is still ongoing, but will be much easier to put to an end now that Miller is with Marc VDS.
The other obstacle to Miller's move was financial. Though Miller rides for HRC, Honda still wanted the team who took him to cover at least some of the costs. That was a problem for Marc VDS, as they had taken a financial hit moving up to MotoGP in 2015 with Scott Redding. As a new team in MotoGP, they were not eligible for financial support with transport costs or free tires. That imposed an extra financial burden - believed to be around €1.6 million a year - on the team. If Miller was to join Marc VDS, then they needed to be sure that both grid slots would be eligible for financial support, and they had to be sure that they could afford to pay Honda's asking price. After a period of negotiation, agreement has been reached on these issues.
With Miller confirmed alongside Tito Rabat, the 2016 MotoGP grid is nearing completion. The Repsol Honda, Movistar Yamaha, Ducati Factory, Gresini Aprilia and Suzuki ECSTAR teams all remain unchanged, as does the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha line up. Cal Crutchlow remains as the single rider at LCR, Lucio Cecchinello's dreams shattered by the legal problems of a former sponsor. Scott Redding replaces Yonny Hernandez at Pramac Ducati, the Colombian moving to Aspar, where he will line up alongside Eugene Laverty. If, that is, Aspar has the funds to run a second bike. With the Avintia Ducatis of Loris Baz and Hector Barbera, there will be a total of eight Ducatis on the grid next year.
The grid is likely to be a good deal smaller than in 2015. So far, it looks like there will be 21 riders instead of 25, with three teams likely to withdraw. Forward Racing have already been told they do not have grid slots in MotoGP, so they will continue in Moto2, and, if the reports are correct, race MV Agustas in World Superbikes. AB Racing also looks likely to make the switch to WSBK, though Karel Abraham is trying to remain in MotoGP. The Ioda Racing team is trying to hang on for one more year on a minimum budget, waiting for 2017 when the funding for teams increases radically. That looks like a tough task, however.
Below is the 2016 grid as it stands at the moment, complete with the length of the contract for each rider. Underneath that is the press release from Marc VDS.
|93||Marc Marquez||Honda RC213V||2016|
|26||Dani Pedrosa||Honda RC213V||2016|
|46||Valentino Rossi||Yamaha YZR-M1||2016|
|99||Jorge Lorenzo||Yamaha YZR-M1||2016|
|4||Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati GP16||2016|
|29||Andrea Iannone||Ducati GP16||2016|
|19||Alvaro Bautista||Aprilia RS-GP||2016|
|6||Stefan Bradl||Aprilia RS-GP||2018|
|41||Aleix Espargaro||Suzuki GSX-RR||2016|
|25||Maverick Viñales||Suzuki GSX-RR||2017|
|35||Cal Crutchlow||Honda RC213V||2017|
|Marc VDS Racing|
|53||Tito Rabat||Honda RC213V||2017|
|43||Jack Miller||Honda RC213V||2017|
|Monster Tech 3 Yamaha|
|44||Pol Espargaro||Yamaha YZR-M1||2016|
|38||Bradley Smith||Yamaha YZR-M1||2016|
|68||Yonny Hernandez||Ducati GP14.2||2016|
|50||Eugene Laverty||Ducati GP14.2||2016|
|45||Scott Redding||Ducati GP15+||2017|
|9||Danilo Petrucci||Ducati GP15+||2016|
|8||Hector Barbera||Ducati GP14.2||2016|
|76||Loris Baz||Ducati GP14.2||2016|
Below is the press release from Marc VDS announcing the deal with Miller:
Jack Miller joins the Marc VDS Racing Team for 2016
Phillip Island, Australia – 15 October 2015: Having reached an agreement with Honda Racing Corporation, the Marc VDS Racing Team can confirm that they will run two bikes in the MotoGP class in 2016.
Tito Rabat will step up from Moto2 to campaign a factory Honda RC213V in Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS colours, as previously announced. Riding alongside the former Moto2 World Champion will be 20-year-old Australian, Jack Miller, who will race in the traditional livery of the Marc VDS Racing Team.
Miller’s current crew, headed by experienced Chief Engineer Cristian Gabarrini, will join the Australian in the Marc VDS Racing Team for the 2016 season.
Like many Australians before him Miller, who hails from Townsville in North Queensland, started his racing career on dirt bikes. Having racked up six Australian titles on the dirt he then switched his attention to road racing, with similar success.
The success continued following a move to Europe, where Miller won the 2011 IDM 125cc Championship aged just 16 and was rewarded with a ride in the Moto3 World Championship the following season.
Miller joins the team for his second season in MotoGP, having jumped into the premier class in 2015 straight from Moto3, following a titanic season long battle that saw the Australian lose out on the World Championship title by just two points to eventual winner, Álex Márquez.
“I am very enthusiastic on this possibility with Honda and the Marc VDS Racing Team. I know Marc VDS is a good, strong and experienced team, and they can build a good structure for me to fight for good positions next year. As we both have already one year of experience from the top class, I feel that we can gain from the experiences we have to achieve good results together with Honda.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“It’s good to be able to finally welcome Jack to the Marc VDS Racing Team. We wanted Jack in 2013 because we could see he had the talent to succeed and that hasn’t changed. This was always going to be a difficult transition season for him, having jumped straight onto the MotoGP bike from Moto3, but he’s done a solid job so far. Next year Jack will benefit from having the Marc VDS Racing Team behind him and, together with a competitive bike, I’m confident that this is exactly what he needs to realise his full potential.”
Marc van der Straten: President, Marc VDS Racing Team
“We are happy to welcome Jack to the Marc VDS family, even if he is 12 months late arriving! He comes to the team with a year of experience in MotoGP and I expect to see him well inside the top ten on a regular basis next season. For the team it is good to have two riders in the premier MotoGP class; they can learn from each other but, equally importantly, they can push each other every weekend. Both Jack and Tito are ultra-competitive and I expect we’ll see some exciting battles between the two of them next season!”