Normally, the arrival of the senior figure from a manufacturer's racing organization at a race track means that a number of questions which linger of the future of a team are about to be cleared up. Such was the expectation when HRC President Tetsuo Suzuki turned up at Brno, the assembled journalists assuming they would hear that contracts had been signed and a lot of loose ends tidied up. That, at least, was what paddock scuttlebutt indicated prior to Suzuki's arrival.
At the press conference given by the HRC boss on Friday morning, that was more or less what was presented, but after the press had interpreted Suzuki-san's pronouncements to mean that contracts had been signed with both Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, HRC issued a press release pointing out that the phrase used was in fact "basic agreement," by which they meant that agreement had been reached in broad terms, but that there were still a few details to be cleared up before contracts could be officially signed.
This was perhaps the first sign that not everything was as it seemed. Spanish TV, mischievous as they can occasionally be, immediately headed over to Dani Pedrosa's manager Alberto Puig to enquire about Pedrosa's new contract. Puig immediately denied that any contracts were signed, but told TVE that they were indeed close to a deal, with only a few details to be ironed out.
One of those details, it would appear, is the role of Puig himself. A story has appeared in the Catalonian paper El Periodico which suggests that a power struggle has broken out in the Repsol Honda garage, between HRC on the one hand and Alberto Puig and Dani Pedrosa on the other. HRC does not want to sign a contract with Pedrosa which includes a clause which would see Puig in an official Repsol Honda uniform, as is now the case. The tension which Puig has created in the Repsol Honda garage, along with the many management changes he has demanded - without producing any success on the track - leaves HRC feeling the team would run more efficiently without Puig in the Repsol Honda garage. Pedrosa, on the other hand, is unlikely to sign a contract with Honda which does not include a role for his manager and mentor Puig, as Puig provides him with valuable assistance in setting up the Honda and even sitting in with him on meetings with Japanese engineers where the development of the bike is discussed.
However much HRC may want to be rid of Puig, it is not that simple. Puig plays an important role inside Dorna, and is closely involved in the various rider development programs, such as the Red Bull Rookies and the Grand Prix Academy. If the story, as reported by GPOne.com, has any truth to it, the battle of wills could turn into a very complex and drawn out affair.