Herve Poncharal: "Replacing Valentino Rossi Is Almost Impossible"

The race to fill Valentino Rossi's seat is now running at full pace, not least in the press. Since Saturday afternoon at Mugello, the phones of everyone even tangentially involved with Yamaha's MotoGP effort have been ringing off the hook, with everyone from journalists calling for information to riders at every level offering their services.

Herve Poncharal is one such victim. As boss of the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, and as someone with very strong ties to Yamaha Racing, he has had everyone with access to his phone number calling him to either ask him questions or offer advice. So it was a very tired Tech 3 boss who took MotoMatters.com's call to answer the questions he has been facing for the past 9 days.

He still has no answers to those questions, though. Yamaha is still hard at work, running through all of the possible options, but each of those options faces almost insurmountable problems. "We have tried many things, but there are problems with any choices," Poncharal told MotoMatters.com, explaining that there were many hurdles to be cleared in finding a replacement rider.

One of those hurdles in undoubtedly the meshing of the World Superbike and MotoGP calendars, leaving a possible replacement from World Superbikes facing a punishing schedule of six races in six weekends. When we suggested a replacement from the WSBK series, Poncharal's response made it clear what he thought of that possibility: "Are you trying to kill him?" the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha boss joked. "Six races in six weekends is too much, even a top rider cannot be at this level for so many weekends in a row."

But the calendar was the least of the problems a replacement would face, according to Poncharal. The biggest problem is the machines themselves. "It is not easy to ride a MotoGP bike," the Tech 3 boss avers. "These are very special bikes, and not easy to get used to." Anyone coming in to replace Rossi - or replace either of the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's riders, if they are bumped up into the Fiat Yamaha team - will face a multitude of new challenges. "We are the only championship to use Bridgestone tires, we are the only championship to use carbon brakes," Poncharal explained. "You cannot come in to this championship and be fast."

To highlight his point, Poncharal pointed to the crop of Rookies coming in from the 250cc class. Marco Simoncelli, Alvaro Bautista and reigning 250cc world champion Hiroshi Aoyama came into the class expecting to be competitive. "They were the best of the best in the 250cc class," Poncharal said, "they have had two days of testing at Valencia, three winter tests, even extra testing, and still they are only just starting to get used to the class. They have had a lot of time on the bike, and only now, Simoncelli and Aoyama are starting to do something." If it was this hard for riders with experience on the bike, how hard would it be for someone with no time on the bike to come in to replace Rossi, Poncharal asked. "How can someone with no experience come into the class and expect to compete?"

The Frenchman pointed to stories in the press and among the fans that the advanced electronics have made modern MotoGP bikes easy to ride fast, and explained that the experience of the 250 rookies would seem to prove otherwise. "A lot of people say that these bikes are easy to ride, that the electronics do all the work," Poncharal said. "That is so wrong. The electronics did not save Valentino at Mugello, they did not save Jorge at Laguna last year." It is not simply a matter of opening the throttle and letting the electronics do the work, as is commonly believed.

The biggest risk for any rider coming into the series to replace Rossi is that the risks of failure are so much greater than the chances of success, according to Poncharal. "This class is the best of the best," Poncharal told us. "For any rider, it will be very difficult not to look bad on the bike, no matter how talented they are." That is leaving Yamaha with a huge problem, according to the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha boss. "Replacing Valentino is almost impossible."

And yet under the terms of the participation contract signed by all teams with Dorna, the Fiat Yamaha team have an obligation to fill the grid. This, Poncharal points out, merely highlights MotoGP's weakness, the fact that there are not enough bikes on the grid. "17 bikes are not enough," the Tech 3 boss told us. "If we have 22, 23 bikes, then having one rider out is not so much of a problem." And this problem could easily get worse, Poncharal said. "If we are unlucky and more riders crash, we could be racing with 13, 14 riders."

The Frenchman believed that the rule changes scheduled for 2012 for MotoGP are desperately needed. Under those rules, privateer teams will be allowed to enter 1000cc machines based on heavily modified production engines using prototype chassis, a measure that it is hoped will put many more bikes on the grid. "People complain a lot about the rule changes, and say that the Claiming Rule teams will not be proper prototypes, but we need to do something."

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Comments

I wonder what sort of shennegans that DORNA will allow to accomodate the lack of Rossi. Considering the tone of Herve, I would imagine that it will be an existing MotoGP rider. We shoud know by Silverstone, right? =)

Total votes: 111

just going to throw this out there....

Sete Gibernau

1. Not busy
2. Understands a MotoGP bike
3. Decent fan base
4. His presence on Valentino's bike is sure to accelerate Valentino's recovery

Total votes: 118

I don't think it would be out of the realm of possibility that one of the Moto2 riders with MotoGP experience could pull double duty. Ben Spies amongst others have done this while competing in the AMA in the past. Maybe an Anthony West or Tony Elias could pull this off.

Total votes: 116

Would be difficult because Moto2 does not come to Laguna.
FernandoARG

Total votes: 117

Matt Kellerman #63. ccs :) he would be my choice. and i should know... i watch a lot of this stuff on TV!

Total votes: 120

Is there a mimimum number of riders needed on the grid for the races to be classified as a World Championsuip event..?
A few years ago I seem to recall 18 being the number, which it obviously isn't now. !3 or 14 riders lining up would be a joke, how can it be a valid, FIM backed World Championship event.

Poncheral talls of the need for 2012 rules to be clarified and implemented asap, which a lot of us will agree with..only if the new rules make sense and the Claiming rule doesn't. If they railroad a poorly drafted set through without thought just to fill up the grid, giving new teams no chance of competing, I reckon they can kiss GP goodbye..

Total votes: 104

As I understand it, the contract between the FIM and Dorna specifies that there will be 18 bikes on the grid for MotoGP to be considered a world championship. That is not the case, but arguably, the fault for that may be laid at the door of the manufacturers rather than Dorna, as they both draw up the technical regulations, and supply the teams with bikes. Certainly, this is the case that Dorna will be making to the FIM anyway.

As with all such agreements, any breaches will first be discussed between the parties. The raft of new rules being pushed through is the response to that situation, and only if the new rules after 2012 fail to bring more than 17 bikes to the grid will the FIM start examining the status of the MotoGP championship. First, though, they'll do all they can to fix the problem.

Total votes: 121

I have a hard time believing that Dorna would jeopardize the value of their entertainment property over 1 bike. I have an even harder time believing that their contract with Bridgepoint Capital would ever allow them to breach their world championship contract with the FIM. I find it almost unbelievable that the MSMA would race in a series that is not within world championship compliance. I also can't believe that TV people would pay millions of dollars for a TV property that is not living up to the minimum bike requirement.

I'm not saying you're wrong, but that would be an extraordinarily insane arrangement--to run a half-billion (?) dollar sporting enterprise in breach of contract.

Will you double check the min bike requirement? Only b/c operating a sport in breach of contract is a pretty damning allegation even if all parties have somehow agreed that the breach is acceptable.

Total votes: 105

What's the alternative to the FIM allowing Dorna to be in breach of contract (though again, I am not entirely certain that a stipulation for 18 bikes exists)? If Dorna can't persuade the manufacturers to provide more bikes (something they have been trying very hard to do for several years now, including by offering financial support), then they just have to deal with the situation as it stands, or else acknowledge they are in breach and hand back the contract to the FIM.

That leaves the FIM with no one to run their World Championship series, Dorna with a large number of broken multi-million dollar TV contracts, and the manufacturers nowhere to showcase their bikes, or have their big name stars to showcase them for them. Dorna would effectively cease to exist, MotoGP would skip at least one year, and possibly more, and TV companies would use the situation to renegotiate TV deals drastically downwards. The FIM would be left looking stupid.

There is no alternative to continuing to run the series. No matter what the contracts say.

I will try and chase up the contracts, though, just to make sure. But given the secrecy that surrounds these contracts, I expect that to be extremely difficult.

Total votes: 114

There is no alternative as you rightly point out. The only way to guarantee that the sport isn't collapsed by a catastrophic chain of legal events is to remain in compliance with the commercial rights contract. Collusion between IRTA, MSMA, FIM, Dorna, Bridgepoint Capital, and all related TV companies and sponsors is not possible without contracts. The most critical contract in MotoGP is Dorna's right to act as the commercial rights holder for the world championship series, MotoGP.

I think it is more likely that the contract was amended to keep Dorna in compliance or Dorna/MSMA have worked with one another to provide the bare minimum number of bikes which is actually 17.

I agree that the consequences are far too dire to lose world championship status. The first step towards the most dire of consequences is breaching contract with the FIM. Surely, they must be in compliance?

Total votes: 116

As someone who deals with contracts between large organizations, a breach of contract is not always a significant issue. A contract is based on a partnership and the common needs of those who sign it. Often, what could be considered a breach of contract is not an issue worth damaging the partnership. Unforeseen or uncontrollable circumstances often precipitate the need for strengthening a partnership in spite of the word of a contract.

A breach of contract is no more of an issue than the parties involved care to make it. If they have a common interest, the breach itself can readily be ignored.

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MotoTheory.com - MotoGP Data & Statistics

Total votes: 114

I concur. A breach is only significant IF the non-breaching party makes it an issue. And as David points out, there is no choice for the parties (assuming, and it's probably a big assumption, that the 18 bike rule exists in an 'ironclad' format) but to deal with the current situation. Fighting for the sake of fighting is typically not what big business does; rather legal fights emerge when one's own financial interest is at greater issue than the economic effect of not fighting.

Total votes: 119

When Kawasaki withdrew did Dorna put the kettle on and wish them a happy time in WSBK? I don't think so.

Rossi just fell off of his bike and he won't be returning anytime soon (maybe not for the rest of the season). Don't you think there are a lot of sponsors and TV people who wish they could renegotiate? If Dorna is breaching world championship status, they probably could.

Businesses don't breach commercial agreements with other business. Minor administrative breaches happen all of the time, but businesses don't breach if it involves a fundamental business activity. Dorna is in the business of running a world championship prototype motorcycle racing series. I seem to remember quite a few battles over whether or not Moto2 was prototypes b/c it had a spec production-based engine.

That was only Moto2 and it was only regarding the prototype aspect of the sport. World championship compliance is important.

Total votes: 127

Yes it would be juicy to see Sete on Vale's machine. It would only be justice after Vale put the hex on Sete.

Ok, I relent - put Spies on the FIAT, and Gibernau on the Tech 3 bike.

The suspense in killing me. Will someone please make the decision so I can get some sleep...

Total votes: 120

Given Poncharal's comments about the difficulty of adapting to the unique aspects (carbon brakes, the electronics) of a motoGp bike quickly enough, there are only a few guys out there with good recent experience. Vermuelen is one of those and his WSBK season is fairly shot to hell, so if he's sufficiently patched up enough couldn't he be a contender? He knows the tracks, usually bought the squeeky dog home in one piece and he has proven that with a half-decent bike he can be in the mix mid-pack at least in any race, wet or dry.

Total votes: 119

They will need some one with 800 experience. So lets see who might make the cut.

Chris Vermeulen, John Hopkins, Anthony West, Alex De Angelis, Shinya Nakano, James Toseland (past Tech 3 rider), Toni Elias, Sylvain Guintoli (past Tech 3 rider), Makoto Tamada (past Tech 3), KR Jr, Olivier Jacque, Alex Hofmann, Kurtis Roberts, Sete Gibernau, And Gabor Talmacsi

So I tried not to include any of the past wild card riders but it is amazing to see how many riders there was in 2007. Man I forgot a lot of riders.

I do not see Yamaha putting anyone on the Fiat team except Spies or Edwards. So that leaves some one from this list maybe. My choice is Alex De Angelis of the past 800 riders. And since he sits 21st in points right now it would not take much for him to jump ship and maybe show what he can do on a Yamaha.

Total votes: 112

He may seem a bit past his time to shine, but he's the only one not under contract, that was still "active" at some point this year on the world stage and seemingly healthy. Also, the only one of those to win in the dry on Bridgestones.

Test riders start to look better and better. I think they are both a couple of older guys (in their 40s?). That would be kinda cool!

Total votes: 126

Vermeulen: under contract to Kawasaki, and riding with a damaged knee. Hopkins: under contract to John Ulrich to ride in AMA, and currently recovering from career-threatening wrist surgery. West: under contract to MZ. De Angelis and Canepa: under contract to the Scot team in Moto2. Toseland: under contract in WSBK, and with a serious job to do there. Elias: favorite for the Moto2 title, and under contract with Gresini. Talmacsi: under contract in Moto2, and running very well. Jacque: announced his retirement a couple of years ago, after being hurt one time too many. Guintoli: under contract to Suzuki in WSBK. Nakano: officially retired. Tamada: racing in Japan, as far as I know, and left MotoGP and WSBK under a cloud. Alex Hofmann, currently presenting the German TV coverage, and under contract to Aprilia as a test rider. Gibernau is also retired, and is probably still too damaged by injury to be considered. Also, he has links to Honda and Ducati, and none to Yamaha that I know of. Kurtis Roberts is riding in the AMA, having just bagged a ride, and was never particularly highly rated in MotoGP. His brother Kenny Jr. is retired, and shows no signs of wanting to return to racing.

You can see the problem that Yamaha faces. Running a test rider to spend time developing the bike is looking a more and more attractive option.

Total votes: 112

I figured you would know what all the past GP riders where up to. So if the past riders on the list can't race GP then who do you pick? Test riders are usually never fast and I have always wondered why have a slower rider test your bike. If he can't get to race pace then whats the point? My little morning rant regarding the lack of testing anymore.

And if a test rider is the best choice then hell a decent rider from another series is just as good of an option then. Even if he has never swung a leg over a GP bike.

Total votes: 103

The point of a test rider is to provide consistent feedback. You can be sure that a good test rider can tell you what changed in a double blind test. Just look at who the tire engineers go to for feedback. Every so often you get a real genius like Rossi that can race and test. Test riders don't have to be fast, just sensitive.

Total votes: 126

... he'd be signed under a racing contract. The reason test riders are useful is because they hone their riding and ability to give feedback to the manufacturers without the significant time restrictions that signed full-time racing riders labor under.

Total votes: 116

Alex Hofmann was the first name with experience to come to mind that wasn't already tied up with another factory or series... I can't imagine that his TV & Testing gigs would be that hard to work around (pure speculation on that last bit of course).

Anyway, he might be the only one available that won't embarrass himself and Yamaha. Assuming of course he could muster the motivation to actually finish a race.

And what about Alex Barros? He's probably stuffed himself with moth balls for just such an opportunity...

Total votes: 118

Hayden certainly would hate to see that kamikaze De Angelis back on the grid.

Spies or Edwards. Personally I would love to see Edwards back on a factory Yamaha. Ignoring all contracts and political mumbo jumbo that man is the only person I think Rossi wouldn't mind riding his bike.

Total votes: 110

If it's filling the grid back up to 18 bikes couldn't Yamaha just provide a detuned factory Yamaha for this replacement, like a tech 3 bike? Would it have to be Rossi's actual bike? I mean, of course, that they /say/ it's Rossi's bike ...

Total votes: 113

Whether or not it's Rossi's bike, the replacement rider will have to use Rossi's engines. The only thing that Yamaha could do is back the revs off a little to make the engines last a little longer. But the engine rules complicate such a plan.

Total votes: 123

Spies cant replace Rossi because he is a rookie end of, Edwards could but why would he having been there once?

Total votes: 123

Spies cannot ride the Fiat bike under the rules that the championship operates within. Edwards has had ample time to prove that he is capable of running and winning in Motogp and has failed to do so. With a machine fairly close to the Fiat bikes he is not exactly setting the 2010 season alight. So why would any team boss put Edwards in that seat?

Total votes: 121

Spies will be allowed to ride the bike if Yamaha wants him to. The rookie rules do not cover substitute riders, they only prevent factory teams from signing a rookie for the full year. The situation might be different if Rossi was expected to be out for the rest of the season, or if he had been sacked (however unlikely that would be). 

Total votes: 118

But why would you pick Spies? He's done well, but he's not threatened. Put him on a bike we know can win races, then what if he doesn't? He doesn't gain anything, Yamaha gain nothing and they also stand to both lose. I am sure Spies will prove me wrong though!

Total votes: 108

Is really the obvious choice since all other riders are under contract. Put Mr Squiggle on an 800. He can ride and he can leave without any stress to Vale (who used to follow him around in practice just to watch him slide the 500) and he speaks Australian so he and JB will get along. Come on Yamaha not a slow boring test rider please

Total votes: 125

and according to the press, he has trained like mad and in great condition. Ready to go. People like him and he is entertaining to watch.

Total votes: 124

I think Yamaha needs to put someone on Valentino's bike who will preserve his engines, at least to ensure that Vale has what he needs to aid Jorge's title fight at the end of the season (gasp!). If they threw someone on the factory bike who was aiming to impress (I love him, but Spies fits this category) or who is not in the right shape or frame of mind (test riders), they could sacrifice some of Vale's precious motors. I think this leaves Colin Edwards as the obvious choice for promotion to the factory team. As for his replacement in Tech 3, I think Herve may have hinted at it: six races in six weekends may kill one rider, but what if you spread it to two? Give James Toseland and Cal Crutchlow each a shot on the T3 bike, to spread the strain throughout the Yamaha camp. That gives JT a shot at redemption, and Cal an opportunity to show he belongs in GP.

Total votes: 123

At this stage it looks to be a test rider or McCoy are their best options. The other cloud that has to be hanging over their heads right now must be long term decisions.
Can they afford not to sign Lorenzo for another 2 years on Monday morning,presuming he brings them another great result ? When Rossi comes back, will he be up to speed immediately like Stoner was last year, or need the rest of the season to get back up to a winning pace ? Will he even come back ? Much in the air at Yamaha right now.
Honda must be relishing this twist in the tale of GP 2010.
They have 2 riders doing the business. Stoner to Honda is probably on hold right now given his early season performance, but still an option. Lorenzo can be baited by them or Ducati.
My how the wheel turns in one practise session. A few weeks ago Yamaha were spoiled for choice, now Honda and Ducati are, with Yamaha in a state called 'confusion'.
As far as the shrinking grid is concerned, let's hope it does not shrink even further before Assen, and this is a real possibility. New track, very little data for Bridgestone etc. A greasy rain washed circuit and GP 2010 can turn even more pear shaped.
I think its high time Yamaha fielded a 3rd sattelite bike. If a little outfit like Ducati can,
surely they can come up with the 18th bike on the grid.
Nevertheless, I for one am looking most forward to Silverstone without a lot of drama.
Just a lot of great racing from 125 to GP.

Total votes: 117

Given Rossi's track record, it's surprising to see so many in previous threads calling for his retirement. Does anything in his career to date or in his character lead you to believe he will throw in the towel? Likewise, that he would return at anything less than full, race winning form?

Yamaha are still spoiled for choice, Rossi seems likely to stay, as does Lorenzo (if he can win the championship, is he likely to switch everything the next day?), Spies is going nowhere soon so...it's either Edwards or a Champion SBK or Moto2 rider in. Where's the problem?

If Honda is truly back, then it would seem that Ducati have their work cut out for them, both in terms of bikes and riders.

Total votes: 128

I must have missed that. I haven't seen a sinlge comment or article suggesting that Rossi should or will retire. Or even that he will be less than top form when he returns.
Perhaps you can point me to where you have seen this?

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MotoTheory.com - MotoGP Data & Statistics

Total votes: 119

Has anyone mentioned Andrew Pitt?
Former MotoGP rider, dual WSS champ, his current season ride seems to have disintergrated AND he has a history as a yamaha test rider.
Oh, and he speaks Australian too.

Total votes: 114

Pitt signed up to race with Motorpoint in the BSB series. Losing Pitt would probably make Rob Mac about the most disappointed person in racing after the team's loss of Hodgson.

Though Pitt is probably as good of a choice as McCoy or Pitt's former Reitwagen teammate.

The test riders make sense in terms of testing, but probably not in terms of competitive lap times. No need to mount the grid to pull off before being lapped traffic. No offense intended to them. Those guys are probably 1000 times the rider I'll ever be.

This is like a mini silly season for mortal riders.

Total votes: 129

Ah, forgot about that.
Who would have thought it would be this hard to find someone to ride a motogp bike?

Total votes: 117

I bet that some folks have a clause that says they can get out if get an offer to ride in MotoGP or something. I don't think a rider like Pitt would do that, but you never know. It could be the opportunity of a lifetime (or last chance opportunity) for some rider. If who ever gets the chance throws in a couple top 10 finishes it'd be a career changing temp job.

Total votes: 122

A test rider would be good for Yamaha from a development stand point. But to have a guy going around in circles on Valentino Rossi's #46 Fiat/Yamaha would be disastrous for Moto/GP.
They have to put someone on the bike that will raise interest on Val's bike. Spies is the obvious choice as far as what would generate the most fan fair for Fiat/Yamaha, the guys televising the races and for MotoGP racing in general. Can the powers to be in MotoGP take a chance of having Valentino Rossi's fans stop watching? Talk about a roll of the dice.
You only need to look as far as the factories for the mess that has become MotoGP. How long has it been since a non factory bike won a race? How long has it been since a satellite rider been in contention for podiums on a regular basis?
They are the ones responsible by only supporting the satellite teams in a sense to fill the grid. How in the world do they expect to get sponsors like Fiat and Respol to spend 20 or 30 million dollars to be also ran’s to the factory teams? Not going to happen. And it has not.
Look at the cost of 250cc racing. Killed it plain and simple. Moto2 comes along and we have sponsors coming out of the wood work. What, 40 plus teams? Because they have a shot. Not so in MotoGP.
The factories have put all their eggs in one basket with the Fab Four trying to win the championship. All the while killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. There would be 25 plus riders in MotoGP if they had any chance of being even remotely competitive against the factory boys.

“A breach of contract is no more of an issue than the parties involved care to make it. If they have a common interest, the breach itself can readily be ignored.”

Yeah the powers to be need to do what is best for MotoGP and put someone on the #46 who will generate some interest. As Herve said, it is almost impossible to replace Val. True but they sure need to get someone on the bike that will do something.

Total votes: 118

Sponsors in Moto2 , don't make me laugh name 1 of them on say either Cluzels, Elias or Noyes bikes?
The seat will be filled by a loyal Yamaha test rider who won't rock the boat to much.

Total votes: 113

I wonder just how different Spies's current machine is from Rossi's machine. If Ben hopped on to Rossi's bike, how much faster would it be possible to go? In terms of, would it be better to just put Rossi's bodywork on to Ben's bike? Thoughts?

Total votes: 115

How do we know this? I can't find anything that supports the idea that the factory and satellite bikes are anywhere near comparable.

There was talk pre-season about making them close in performance but that is the same nonsense the factories and teams tell us everyseason before anyone is actually on track.

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MotoTheory.com - MotoGP Data & Statistics

Total votes: 120

What would it take for you to be convinced if you can't go by what a rider or team says? Will it take Spiesus Christ himself to say it?

Here is Collin Edwards stating how close the bikes are.

http://www.crash.net/motogp/news/158509/1/edwards_not_ruling_out_wins_fo...

I'm sure updates happen as the season progresses. But I doubt that Yamaha has their feet to the flames to make a better performing bike after taking more wins than anyone else and having a limited number of engines to use. So there should be a lot less difference between the factory and satellite teams as the season progresses, compared to the historical pattern of technology distribution.

Total votes: 106

I really do not think that Spies would be much faster on Rossi’s bike. He has had to spend the first hour of practice learning the track except at Qatar. So he cannot work on race setup till the second practice session. I agree he has been doing well. First race lap times were impressive to me. His practice times have been very good. Ben had some problems in race 2 and 3. He was in the pack battling for fourth place at Mugello. If he can keep the shiny side up and the rubber side down at Silverstone during practice and qualifying it should be a good race for Mr. Spies.

As far as Rossi and Yamaha to my way of thinking Colin Edwards should be the replacement rider for the #46 Fiat/Yamaha. He knows the M1 and can give Yamaha good feedback and development information while riding Val’s bike. Mr. Edwards would be the best rider to bring home the bike in one piece and get manufacturer and rider points for Mr. Rossi. Be the smart move for those with Fiat/Yamaha.

Valentino Rossi has legions of fans worldwide. Some say Val is MotoGP. Hard to argue he is not easily the biggest draw in motorcycle racing today. So in my mind putting someone on the #46 that can generate interest is MotoGP’s biggest problem. To that end Ben Spies is light years ahead of any other rider that are realistically available who are fit, knows the M1 and can generate fan interest. It would be the biggest thing to happen in MotoGP in quite some time.

After Catalunya Spies will be past most of the tracks he does not know and should be able to move further up the time sheets during practice. Having the first hour to work on race setup will certainly help his qualifying position. That to me should equate to better race position finishes.

Colin Edwards, smart for team Rossi, Fiat/Yamaha. Ben Spies for filling the huge void that is Valentino Rossi and his world wide fan base and MotoGP racing in general. Second place is way…And I mean way back there. In my opinion.

Total votes: 117

If Yahama wants to make the MotoGP fans happy - put Spies on the FIAT.

If Yahama wants to make Rossi and Lorenzo happy - put Edwards on the FIAT.

Cal - what were you thinking?!

Total votes: 120

Still need to put a rider on a Tech3 machine and as we can see in the article and subsequent comments - finding a rider of the necessary calibre is not so simple.

Is Steve Martin actually on contract with BMW as the S1000R test rider? He's a man who can put his hand to just about any type of bike and make a good fist of it.

But I keep coming back to Garry McCoy - fit, fast, previous relationship with Yamaha, and available! And not to mention, quite capable of putting on a show for the fans - and by extension, the worried sponsors...

Total votes: 120

The state of MotoGP racing is in serious trouble. With the motorcycle manufacturers involved being its 800 pound gorilla in the room. The lone “factory” in 250cc GP killed the class with its outrageous “lease” price for twin cylinder, 2 stroke race bikes that got beat by a non factory bike that should have had zero chance of winning the last smell of bean oil in the 250 GP class. You can buy a very nice 250 with tons of spares, glass, pistons, wheels, ready to race for 15,000.00 dollars and in a feeder class to the big show it cost millions to lease a race bike?

Now we have Moto2 with 40 plus teams that actually “own” their motorcycles for a fraction of the cost of leasing “factory supported” 250cc machines. These teams are able to choose the chassis, suspension, brakes, wheels, exhaust. But instead of them being able to buy 600cc motors and doing whatever they wanted to them the powers to be in Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing decide a control motor is need with control electronics.

Here we go again. I have no idea what the “lease” price is for the Moto2 engines are. But once again I would suspect that a team could easily build 20 plus, 600cc motors they actually own, that would absolutely, and completely trounce the 600cc control engines. At a fraction of the cost. And at the end of the day would be able to walk away with said motors in their possession. And let me say this again. At a fraction of the cost of the control engine.

This is motorcycle racing and the more players involved the better. Letting factory’s control what happens only benefits the factory’s. I mean Tech3 has to jump through hoops just to get Yamaha to allow Leo Vince to build an exhaust pipe for their “leased” Yamaha M1? Just shows how they have complete, total and absolute control over MotoGP racing.

The factory’s need to just outright sell the motorcycles to race teams, provide “kit” parts and updates to all teams that want them and let the teams do anything they want to the motorcycles they own. It would be good for everybody involved. The factory’s are not the only people on the planet that can make something go fast. I have complete and total faith in the motorcycle performance community in being able to make to make competitive MotoGP race bikes.

The rule changes for 2012 are the hand writing on the wall. MotoGP will be going the way of Moto2 if the factory’s do not start selling the bikes to qualified teams, provide updates and kit parts to the teams with technical support. This leasing the bikes is the way the factory’s are ruining MotoGP racing.

It allows only a chosen few to actually have a chance at winning. That is not racing in my book. Like it or not we will lose MotoGP racing if the factory’s do not get out of the way and let everybody who has the dime to have a competitive race bike.

They already have the deck stacked in their favor by having the best talent on the planet riding their bikes. And that is not enough ??? Ridiculous. Nothing like going to a fist fight and having one hand tied behind your back. And that is exactly what is happening in MotoGP. They are pushing the series into a corner.

Total votes: 119

The Moto2 engine is much cheaper than open engine rules for Moto2. I also don't know the lease price to the teams, but the first thing a team would do (if it had the resources) is develop a pneumatic valve system for a 600cc engine. A 67mm x 42.5mm engine should be capable of exceeding the hard 16,200rpm rev limit for the spec engine. In theory, a 600cc engine should be able to reach engine speeds in excess of 18,000rpm (175bhp). Even if they maintained a rev limit to reduce the importance of pneumatic valves, the teams would use as much titanium and magnesium as possible to reduce reciprocating mass and total weight.

The spec engine rule sucks, but it can't possibly be more expensive than letting the teams prep their own production-based 600cc engines.

I think you'll find that most people agree with your assessment of the factories. They control the sport lock, stock, and barrel. They have not followed through on their original promise to Dorna or to the fans. BTW, did you watch MotoLiam's show?

Total votes: 117

With the control engine race fans lose something that is near and dear to most motorcycle enthusiast. Brand loyalty. If they would have allowed the teams to run 600cc production engines of their choice it would have added more interest.

The biggest stepping stone might have been the Ducati not having a motor to offer. Since Moto2 should be considered a proving ground to move up to MotoGP some engine restrictions of course would be written into the rules.

Standard engine cases, cylinder, valve train, head and crankshaft. Best thing about it is that it would have given the aftermarket performance industry work. I very seriously doubt that these guys could not build motors for way less than the control engine. And even if it did they would be property of the guys who paid for them.

Once again another year goes by where the factory’s admit that better support for the satellite teams is necessary to improve the racing. And once again they say one thing and do another. Back to the winner out rider in front by himself. Then a couple of guys 5 to 10 seconds back and the rest of the pack 25 to 30 seconds away from the race winning pace.

No way the riders are that much slower. It is the factory bikes as just that much better. If the bikes were as close as some claim then the racing would be much closer. Once again MotoGP has become a procession even with all the talk about them understanding how fans do not want to see the best racing going on in the middle or back pack of riders.

Talk is cheap and that is about all we have gotten. They talked a good game but we are right back where we have been for years. With the factory bikes just driving away from the rest of the field.

Worse part is we have not even started to discuss the worst part of what Herve said. That being what if another rider is injured? Park the bike for 2 races in honor of the fallen rider and have a 16 bike field. Not to mention the very few available replacment riders out there.

Total votes: 109

It's very difficult to write technical regulations that require teams to start with a production engine and then make modifications b/c it encroaches on the WSBK format. Imo, the best way to get more engines into Moto2 is to adopt the GRE (Global Racing Engine) format for production 600s. Those regulations require the manufacturers to build a prototype 600cc engine that meets certain specifications for the grade of materials and the weight of the parts. There is no stipulation for how many production parts must be maintained so you avoid complications with WSBK. The manufacturers vend the prototype 600cc GRE all over the world for a set price.

The manufacturers are definitely paying us lip service in regards to the relatively boring racing. They are dedicated to keeping other manufacturers away even if it ruins the sport.

Total votes: 122

I think Mr. Poncharal may be worried about having to replace Colin Edwards for a different reason than we are all presuming.

If his arm-pump problem continues to worsen, Edwards will not be a suitable replacement rider for Rossi, and he may need to take corrective medical action that may put him off the bike for more than two races himself.  This would be a terrible shame because he has not missed a race in his career.

Could any of us have imagined a scenario where 2 of the 4 Yamaha bikes were being ridden by replacement riders?

Total votes: 109