The Team Toth saga seems set to run and run. Three weeks ago, disaster was averted at Assen by an urgent transfer of funds from Mattia Pasini's Team Toth to Aprilia, who then released the ECUs required to operate the factory-spec RSA 250s Pasini is racing halfway through the first session of free practice. Now, that scenario looks set to be repeated, as according to both GPOne.com and the Italian sports daily Corriere dello Sport, Aprilia are once again holding on to the ECUs to be used by Team Toth, waiting for another payment to be made before allowing Pasini and team mate Imre Toth Jr to race.
The signs of financial trouble have been on the wall for a while: At Mugello, Pasini sported a garish pink livery, promoting a special Ladies' Night offer at a local Rimini night club. Entertaining it might be, but single-race deals with night clubs are unlikely to cover the million euro lease price for a factory-spec Aprilia 250. If the situation continues as is, Team Toth may be forced to withdraw entirely.
Pasini, it appears, may already have that situation covered. The Italian is said to be in talks with the Pramac Ducati team as a replacement for Niccolo Canepa, who has had a deeply disappointing season since entering the MotoGP class. The former FIM Superstock 1000 champion has struggled to get to grips with the Ducati Desmosedici, with only the arrival of Gabor Talmacsi granting Canepa a temporary reprieve from the ignominy of running around in last. Canepa is said to have been given until the Donington round of MotoGP to start improving his results, or face replacement.
If Pasini does make the jump up to MotoGP, it will be another curious move in a remarkable season. Pasini would be the second 250 rider to make the switch to MotoGP in mid-season, following in Gabor Talmacsi's footsteps. The situation is a stark reminder of the glut of talent chasing a few scarce rides, with Sete Gibernau's team's withdrawal leaving the MotoGP grid at just 17, while teams in the 250 class and World Superbikes continue to quietly fold and disappear. Right now, it would appear, a rider's contract is not worth the paper it is written on.
The new Moto2 class may mark a turnaround in that situation, with a full grid of at least 36 riders expected and a genuine sense of excitement surrounding the new series. But until the final entries and rider line ups are announced at the Portugal Grand Prix in early October, that will remain conjecture and speculation.