The news that the MSMA is moving closer to allowing engines to be leased has been received with enthusiasm both inside the paddock and out. The move is aimed at reducing costs and expanding the grid, and word from inside the paddock is that it might just work. The proposal is due to come into force in 2011, but rumors are rife that it could happen before then.
It seems that Yamaha could lease one engine to a team in 2010. That team would be Hayate, allowing the plucky little team which has done so outstandingly with so few means to stay in MotoGP, and bring the grid size up to 18. The news was reported by GPOne.com, and discrete enquiries around the paddock have confirmed the report, though no one would speak on the record.
The idea of the Hayate team running a Yamaha engine in 2010 makes a huge amount of sense. According to the reports, the new bike would use the existing Hayate / Kawasaki frame, and drop the Yamaha engine into it. Given that the man who designed the Yamaha M1 is Ichiro Yoda, who left Yamaha to redesign the Kawasaki, and is still in charge of the Hayate team, the bikes and the configuration are unlikely to be vastly different. The engine should fit without too much work, as both the Yamaha and Kawasaki engines are inline fours.
By running the engine in 2010, the members of the Grand Prix Commission - and especially the manufacturers and the IRTA - can test out in practice just how well such a proposal would work. And with restricted engine numbers, it should be relatively affordable for the cash-strapped team. Unfortunately - if somewhat understandably - Hayate have lost their star rider, Marco Melandri having signed for San Carlo Gresini. But with so many riders likely to be out of a job and offering their services for free to stay in the series, it shouldn't be hard to find a rider capable of surprising the field once again.