Aspar "Will Be In MotoGP In '10". But On What Bikes?

Jorge Martinez, boss of the Aspar team, has made his desire to field a team in MotoGP almost deafeningly clear. The former 80cc and 125cc World Champion has been trying for the past two years to line up a team in the premier class, coming tantalizingly close at the end of 2009 with Kawasaki, the deal finally falling through over arguments about what nationality the rider would be.

But in 2010, Martinez will finally achieve his ambition. After a press conference held with Mapfre, the Spanish insurance giant which sponsors the 250cc team, Martinez told the Spanish sports daily El Mundo Deportivo that he will definitely be in MotoGP with one machine in 2010, and a two-bike team in 2011.

Taken at face value, that's good news, but there is reason to treat the announcement with a sizable pinch of salt. Martinez told El Mundo Deportivo that he wanted to make the announcement here in Barcelona, even though he did not yet know which manufacturer he will be leasing bikes from next year. Going through the list of possibilities, even a single bike for Aspar's MotoGP project looks ambitious, if not entirely impossible. Honda has repeatedly said it will not provide any more than the 6 machines it already has on the MotoGP grid; Suzuki has said it cannot afford to increase its involvement, even admitting that they had come close to pulling out of MotoGP during the winter; Ducati has already expanded its delegation from 4 to 5 bikes, and that was only because of the demise of the Bridgestone test team after the introduction of the single tire rule; and Kawasaki has already withdrawn from the series, leaving just the rump of Hayate - despite Marco Melandri's outstanding results on the underdeveloped machine.

That leaves only Yamaha, but even Yamaha looks entirely improbable. Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal has stated publicly that he has had assurances from Yamaha that Tech 3 will be getting 2 Yamahas next year, countering earlier rumors that Tech 3 would be stripped of one of its bikes, which would then be given to the Aspar team. And Yamaha has repeatedly said that it has no intention of expanding its current involvement in MotoGP, and sticking with its current complement of 4 bikes. In the past, Yamaha has hinted that they may be interested in having more bikes on the grid, but they have usually contradicted themselves very shortly afterwards, making it highly unlikely they would actually step up and provide more machines.

There can be no doubt about Martinez' determination to be in MotoGP in the near future. But contrary to what many modern self-help books would have you believe, in MotoGP at least, just wanting something badly enough is not sufficient.

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Regardless of Tech 3 there will be a one-bike rule next season and this is the very reason why Aspar's appearance in MotoGP is not so improbable after all. Apparently someone from Yamaha (Sorry, I can't remember who it was) also already said that with only one bike per rider next year they might actually be able to field a fifth bike and this is also what Aspar's been saying, that this is why he has a good option for next year.

And after all, he simply has to get into the class next year. Not just because it's actually in the sponsor contract with Mapfre, but because it's getting kinda ridiculous really. Everyone is moaning about too few bikes on the grid, including Ezzy, but yet it's not possible for a well-experienced team boss with loads of cash and a great rider at hand to get into MotoGP...

So far, it looks like the one bike rule is off the cards. The only way it will be pushed through is if the manufacturers are prepared to provide more bikes. But the factories are unlikely to provide more bikes, as the extra bikes will mean more work for them with team liaisons, increasing costs. I'm not convinced there will be a single bike rule next year, nor that there will be more bikes on the grid.

Yeah, I heard the one bike rule was already a little shaky for next year and with the flag-to-flag races this season it might give that rule the final push.

But in general, and I know I'm kinda naive with that, it doesn't really seem right to me that there is no real way into the class these days with a new team or new manufacturers and there are only free places when you kick someone out. And it's all the more baffling when someone like Talmacsi basically moves up straight from 125cc (I don't think those few 250cc rides count) during the season and within just a few weeks he gets a MotoGP ride and it appears also like the team might continue with both riders plus a spare bike for each. How can that happen? It's not like Aspar wouldn't bring the money like Talmacsi does or that Aspar would bring a crap rider in or anything.
Wouldn't the profit the manufacturers make from supporting another successful team outweigh their cost and also make up for the salary of someone to care for that team? I'm just baffled about this situation really.

Has there been a formal declaration on what happens to the bike currently piloted by Gibernau?  That would seem to be the most likely candidate, especially if they figure out how to make it rideable for anyone other than Stoner.