The advent of Gabor Talmacsi to the Scot Honda team led to an avalanche of speculation that this would be the end of current rider Yuki Takahashi's MotoGP career. The two men have a single bike each at this weekend's Catalunya Grand Prix, which works fine when the sun is shining, but would make a flag-to-flag race in mixed conditions an impossible challenge. This bald fact prompted speculation that there would only be room for one rider in the team, and that rider would be the one who could bring money in in the form of sponsorship.
But in an informal press conference, Cirano Mularoni, boss of the Scot Honda team, denied that Takahashi would be given his marching orders at the end of this weekend. "Our plan is to run two riders for the rest of the season. We will need two more bikes for this, but of course they will be difficult to obtain so late after the start of the year," Mularoni said, according to MotoGP.com.
Honda has always denied it was capable of providing any more bikes, and after a winter of cost-cutting measures, the mood is not one of expansion. There is, however, an overriding reason why this time, things could be different. The Japanese factories - with Honda at their helm - have long ensured that MotoGP has a Japanese rider in the series. If Takahashi were to be forced out, this would leave MotoGP without a regular Japanese rider for the first time since 1991. This is unlikely to be acceptable to Honda, as the factory team with the strongest ties back to Japan, and it is not unthinkable that Honda might just step up to provide the extra equipment and keep Takahashi in the series.
By Assen, we should know how successful that attempt has been. And with the wildly variable weather Holland has had for the past few weeks, varying between pleasantly warm and cold and very, very wet, a flag-to-flag race is a very likely scenario at Assen.