Two more crucial pieces of the MotoGP silly season puzzle have fallen into place at Misano, as HRC announced that they have signed new contracts with Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso for next season. The deal consolidates the basic agreement which HRC boss Tetsuo Suzuki announced at the Brno round in the middle of August, though the terms are different to those in the initial announcement. Neither Pedrosa nor Dovizioso have signed two-year deals, as Mr Suzuki had said they would; instead, Dovizioso has signed a deal for 2010 with an option for 2011, while Dani Pedrosa has penned just a single year deal for 2010.
The basic agreement spoken of at Brno had the paradoxical effect of increasing speculation on the future of Pedrosa in particular. The speculation was fueled by Alberto Puig's denial of an agreement between his protege Pedrosa and Honda, made directly after Mr Suzuki made the HRC announcement. More oil was thrown on the fire when Pedrosa acknowledged he had had talks with Ducati, after the Italian factory had been turned down by Jorge Lorenzo. Stories also emerged that the sticking point in the Pedrosa / Honda negotations was the role of Alberto Puig, and as Pedrosa's manager was the man that HRC were being forced to negotiate with, that made the talks difficult.
One of the main reasons that Pedrosa had held off for so long - and possibly a reason for agreeing just to a single year deal, rather than the two year contract favored by Honda - is the failure of Honda to provide the kind of competitive machinery that the factory built throughout the 990cc era. Recent rapid improvements may have persuaded Pedrosa to give Honda the benefit of the doubt, the RC212V now clearly competitive, as Pedrosa's dominance at Indianapolis proved - at least until he crashed out of the race.
With Pedrosa having signed a one-year deal, all of the Fantastic Four will be free agents at the end of 2010. With the four most desirable riders on the planet all available, next year's MotoGP silly season looks like being the most frantic ever. It will also likely see the factories end up in a bidding war for the services of Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner. Any savings made this year, during several strenuous rounds of cost-cutting measures introduced by the Grand Prix Commission, are almost certain to go completely out of the window.
The text of the press release follows:
PEDROSA AND DOVIZIOSO RE-SIGN FOR HRC
HRC (Honda Racing Corporation) is delighted to confirm today that Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso have re-signed for the factory Honda MotoGP team. After the basic agreement announced by HRC at the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic, the details of the contracts have duly been finalised and both riders signed at the Misano World Circuit during the San Marino Grand Prix weekend.
Pedrosa has agreed a one-year extension to his contract which will see the 23-year-old Spaniard riding for the factory Honda squad for a fifth consecutive season. Dovizioso has signed a deal with HRC for 2010 with options to extend for 2011. With this young and talented pairing, HRC is convinced it has the rider line-up needed to recapture the MotoGP world championship title.
Tetsuo Suzuki, HRC President
"We are very pleased that both Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso have re-signed for the factory Honda team and we have total confidence that these two riders possess the talent to help us fight for the MotoGP World Championship. They both have long and successful careers with Honda in Grand Prix racing and we are happy this partnership will continue. Although we have struggled this season, we will continue the challenge until the very last Grand Prix. Since this year is the 50th anniversary of the start of Honda's participation in the World Championships, we must remind ourselves once again that Honda has been striving to compete at the top level in the world since the day of its founding. As HRC we will, of course, reinforce the development of our machine, and together with every team member, we will continue to fight with Honda's challenging spirit in our hearts."
"This new agreement with HRC is great news for me and I'm very pleased to be staying with the team that I've ridden for since 2006. We have now established an effective way of working and I'm confident that we can become even more competitive in the future. The target has always been to win the world championship and that of course stays the same. We have proved before that we can be the fastest and beat the best in the world, and I still believe we can get to a level where we are challenging for that at every race. That is what the whole team must work towards. HRC has a very impressive racing heritage and I still have confidence that they can produce a bike that can win the world championship."
"I'm very happy to be continuing with HRC in the factory Honda team. The experience of being involved with such a prestigious team has been very important for me and, as soon as we began discussing the future, my target was to continue with Honda. My first year as a factory rider has taught me a lot. I'm confident that with the direction we've agreed for machine development we can reach a level where we are fighting for victory every Sunday. Honda is a company that has achieved huge racing success and there are a lot of very talented and passionate people behind this effort. I'm sure we have the potential to fight for the world title."