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of the demise of the Bridgestone test team after the introduction of the single tire rule; and Kawasaki has already withdrawn from the series, leaving just the rump of Hayate - despite Marco Melandri's outstanding results on the underdeveloped machine.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.