Pedrosa Contract Ultimatum: No Puig, No Pedrosa

With the veritable category 5 hurricane of media attention that has surrounded Jorge Lorenzo's deal with Ducati - a deal that has been both confirmed and denied - most other MotoGP news has gone unnoticed. And yet the whirlwind of news has managed to stir up a few fascinating details from around the rest of the paddock, as seats are being held open and details hammered out for potential deals which could come into play if Lorenzo moves and his seat at Fiat Yamaha becomes available.

One candidate for that vacancy would be Dani Pedrosa. Despite HRC boss Tetsuo Suzuki announcing that Honda had reached a "basic agreement" with both Pedrosa and Dovizioso, with just a few details left to be thrashed out, both Dani Pedrosa and his manager and mentor Alberto Puig denied that any deal had been agreed upon, though Pedrosa described the talks as being "positive". Until a deal with Honda is finalized, Pedrosa is still at liberty to explore other options, one of which is Yamaha. Puig has commented several times that if Pedrosa cannot reach an agreement with Honda, Yamaha would be his best option.

But there is one detail which is blocking any deal which Pedrosa may be considering. Both Honda and Yamaha have said that they would welcome Pedrosa with open arms, but they will not accept the presence of Alberto Puig in the garage, according to the Spanish website Motoworld. The contract which HRC presented to Pedrosa reportedly contained the condition that Puig would no longer be welcome in the Repsol Honda garage, a condition which caused Pedrosa to refuse to sign it. Similarly, when Jorge Lorenzo flirtation with Honda caused Pedrosa to put out feelers to Yamaha, one of the conditions demanded by Yamaha was that Puig would not be involved.

Pedrosa has flatly refused to accept either of these offers if that meant abandoning Puig. The former Grand Prix winner has been working with Pedrosa since the Repsol Honda rider was just 13 years of age, when Puig selected him for the Movistar Cup, the precursor of what was to metamorphose into the Red Bull Rookies program, despite being below the minimum age limit. The pair have worked together closely ever since, Pedrosa reportedly relying heavily on Puig's advice on bike setup and development.

The question of Puig could leave Dani Pedrosa in a real quandary. With both Yamaha and Honda unwilling to sign Pedrosa if Puig comes as part of the deal, and Pedrosa rejecting any deal which expressly excluded Puig, the Spanish prodigy is leaving himself with ever fewer options. If neither Yamaha nor Honda will sign Pedrosa, the Spaniard would be force to look elsewhere. The seats at Suzuki are both just about tied up, and the Suzuki is unlikely to be a bike that even Pedrosa could turn into a championship winner. If Lorenzo lands at Ducati, the chances of the Bologna factory signing Pedrosa - with or without Puig - are virtually nonexistent.

Somebody is going to have to blink first. Will it be Pedrosa, because he wants a competitive ride? Or will it be Honda or Yamaha, because they need a rider capable of winning a championship? 

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Comments

Will Dana really destroy his career for Puig? I thought Puig's whole purpose was to help Dani win a championship but it looks like he may be the single reason Dani is moving farther away from that goal. Sad.

Dani-boy, grow up and dump Puig. You're quite capable without him.

Many a great racer has had to ditch their father/managers at some point in their careers. Granted, Puig is not his father, but the dynamic is quite similar in nature.

...and some others thought we should be ridiculed.  The reason we, the fans, know about the caustic effect Puig has on the teams, is because the teams actually have to see it up close and don't keep it a secret.

From the factories' perspectives:

  • Yamaha are quite set, and would not even begin to need the "services" of Puig controlling, er... "managing" Pedrosa.  They have more attractive options, even without Puig, and even after Rossi retires.
  • Honda have a number of good reasons to believe that Pedrosa may perform better without the drama in the garage that his manager brings with him.  Some of us often remark how personable Dani is when away from his handler.  HRC must see this, too, and they know this bike with this rider is their best option for this formula.  If Pedrosa does not relent, they can fill the seat, too, until Simoncelli graduates.
  • Suzuki...  who do they have in mind for 2011 if/when Capirossi retires?
  • Ducati...  everyone, all together now:  "Lorenzo and Pedrosa and Puig in the same garage sounds like a GREAT idea!"

I would have to assume the real action in this conversation is happening behind a closed door with Repsol.

The only way Dani Pedrosa will ever be MotoGP world champion is if Rossi, Lorenzo and Stoner are all out of the picture, simultaneously.

Just a few more additional things for this report:

In the latest After the Flag edition Andrea Dovizioso was asked about that HRC press conference and he said the exact same thing which Dani said, that talks are positive and just little things still have to be set until anything will be signed. He also said "it is no problem, just the media wants to make it into a problem"...

Specifically asked about if the "Puig issue" is a problem for the signing of a new contract with HRC, Dani answered short and directly: "No, not at all."

And the HRC press conference already had a bit about this issue in there, stating that "the role of Alberto Puig at HRC" has to be thought over. That does not have to mean that he's gonna be out of the garage. After all, he IS Dani's manager and you can't just forbid a manager to be with his rider. They can try to limit his influence on HRC and whatnot, but a manufacturer can not tell a rider which management to use as this is none of the factory's business. If they are not happy with it, they can look for another rider. I doubt though that they can still find anyone to fit in now.

@yooperbikemike: You either own a crystal ball or know things everyone else doesn't. Interesting.

why would anyone think that Yamaha would want Puig, and his perpetual negative energy, around the Blue crew garage. The wall in between the two teams would have to be electrified, with a lazer activated deterants. :)

If Someone leaves the Repsol garage I'd think Marco Melandri and Gresini could be in the catbird seat for negotiating a team switch. With the rookie rule barring Simoncelli or Aoyama from joining the factory squad it will be wise to choose Melandri or to a lesser extent DePuniet. I think the churn is more exciting than the major movers.