When Yuki Takahashi was dropped from Team Scot at the Laguna Seca round, it saw a period of over 17 years in which a Japanese rider had been in the premier class come to an end. Since then, speculation has raged about how long the Japanese factories - and Honda in particular - would be willing to tolerate this state of affairs.
The situation was made worse by the current outstanding form of Hiroshi Aoyama, who is leading the 250cc World Championship on a bike that has seen virtually no development since 2007, and is barely changed since 2003. Surely, the thinking went, Honda will want a Japanese rider in MotoGP, and surely Hiroshi Aoyama has proved that he is the right man for the job?
Honda agrees, apparently. The well-informed magazine Speedweek is reporting that Hiroshi Aoyama is to move up to the MotoGP class with a new team to be run by the Caffe Latte team. The team had originally planned to make the step up to MotoGP with their current 250cc rider, Thomas Luthi, but the 2005 125cc World Champion is having a mediocre year in the 250cc class and has conceded that he is simply not ready to make the move into the premier class.
But team boss Daniel Epp was still keen to get into MotoGP, and now Honda has come to their aid, agreeing to provide a pair of Honda RC212Vs for the 2010 season, on condition that the team runs Hiroshi Aoyama as the rider. On his present form, Aoyama certainly deserves the ride, and given his reputation in the Scot Honda team for getting more out of the bike than the team thought possible, he should do very well on a satellite Honda.
It is still unclear whether these bikes will be completely new, adding one more bike to the grid, or whether the Caffe Latte team will be given the bikes currently being used by the cash-strapped Team Scot. The cash injection which Gabor Talmacsi brought has certainly helped keep them on the grid, but it is unclear how long the Hungarian oil giant will be prepared to fund Talmacsi if he continues to run around in 17th place and 2.5 seconds off the pace.