MotoGP 2011 Silly Season - Part 1, The Factory Teams

With the MotoGP season at its halfway point, and the silly season starting to shake itself out, it's time to take a look at the state of the market for 2011. With contracts either signed or on the verge of being signed, the picture of who will be riding where is becoming clear. For the most part, names have been at least pencilled in, those pencil strokes to be replaced by contractually obliging ink after Brno and Indianapolis, but there are still one or two question marks that remain open.

In the first part of this silly season summary, we will address who goes where in the factory teams. The rider picture is just about settled, with the only real question mark what happens at Suzuki. But riders aren't the only factor here, as somebody has to pay the bills. So alongside the rider lineup for each team, we've addressed the issue of sponsorship, and who is likely to be footing the bill next year. Riders and sponsors in bold are confirmed (or as good as confirmed), while names in italics are either best guesses or based on firm rumors. Tomorrow, we will look at the state of the satellite teams.

Factory Yamaha Sponsors: Petronas and Movistar/Telefonica 
Along with Valentino Rossi, Yamaha will lose the title sponsorship provided by Fiat. Malaysian Petroleum giant Petronas has promised to up its involvement with the project, but Jorge Lorenzo's imminent world championship is also persuading Telefonica to return to MotoGP. Backing Lorenzo would also provide a very sweet revenge for Telefonica on Dani Pedrosa, with the Spanish telecoms giant having pulled out of MotoGP when Pedrosa went to Repsol Honda.
Jorge Lorenzo Probably a two-year deal through 2012, with options for more.
Jorge Lorenzo won the battle for supremacy inside the Fiat Yamaha garage this year, and only serious injury can prevent him from winning the 2010 title. Winning the championship does mean that Lorenzo's hand has been forced, or perhaps his options limited. Throughout the first half of the season, Lorenzo has emphasized that his options are open, as far as he is concerned, but the truth is rather more complex. Winning the battle inside Fiat Yamaha means that Rossi has left for Ducati, and one of Rossi's demands will surely be that they do not hire Lorenzo alongside him.
So that leaves just Honda and Yamaha as potential employers, but Honda look to already have two of MotoGP's Fantastic Four in Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner, and seem unlikely to be making a serious bid for Lorenzo's services. Jorge Lorenzo will almost certain be announced as one half of the Yamaha team's MotoGP lineup at Brno, and with the loss of Rossi, is he rider that Yamaha have staked their future on. He will probably sign a two-year contract at Brno, with options for a third year tacked on. Lorenzo's 2010 title is unlikely to be his last.
Ben Spies 2011 - Spies is in the first year of a two-year deal with Yamaha Japan.
With Rossi gone, Ben Spies is the pawn that Yamaha will move up to take his place. The Texan is in the first year of a two-year contract with Yamaha Japan, and has served his apprenticeship in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team with great aplomb. Coming into MotoGP and dominating as he did in World Superbikes in 2009 was always going to be impossible, but with a podium finish on a satellite bike, as well as regular top 6 finishes, Spies has acquitted himself well, on a new bike with new tires and at circuits he hasn't seen, for the most part.
Spies will be taking his crew chief Tom Houseworth and his mechanic Greg Wood with him to Yamaha, which should help ease the transition once again. Spies could never have lived up to some of the hype which surrounded him, but so far, he is more than matching what might realistically have been expected of him
Factory Honda Repsol. The Spanish petroleum giant has become increasingly reluctant to extend its involvement with HRC's MotoGP project, a step that Honda is trying to pre-empt by hiring Livio Suppo from Ducati. Repsol's current contract comes to an end at the end of 2010, but they are likely to extend it for one more year along with Dani Pedrosa.
Honda had originally planned to field a three-man factory squad with Andrea Dovizioso, but Repsol would neither fund the expansion nor agree terms on liveries which would have allowed Red Bull to step in to back Dovizioso. And so Repsol will continue to be the title sponsor for Honda for 2011.
Casey Stoner 2012 - Stoner has a two-year contract with Honda, for 2011 and 2012.
Things have not been easy for Casey Stoner, though the question remains just how hard he has made it for himself. His return from the lactose intolerance he was diagnosed with last year was a triumphant one, taking a second and then two wins, before ignominiously crashing out on the warmup lap at Valencia, but his 2010 season got off to a difficult start. Problems with the front end of his 2010 Desmosedici GP10 saw the Australian crashing out of two of the first three races, until Stoner decided to switch back to the forks he used in 2009. Since then, his fortunes have improved but he has not shown the dominance he has in previous years, something that Stoner puts down to the Ducati being at the limit of its development. These issues are unlikely to have played a part in his decision to move to Honda, which was probably taken over the winter, under the encouragement of his friend and former Ducati team manager Livio Suppo, with the deal finally signed at Jerez back in May. Stoner heads to Honda hoping to find a bike that is more consistent than his fickle Ducati, and knowing that the mighty Honda are finally starting to sort out their RC212V 800cc MotoGP bike. Stoner is probably still the fastest man in MotoGP, and back on the fastest bike again next year, he could be a very serious threat once again.
Dani Pedrosa 2011 - Pedrosa will probably only renew for one more year, to test the balance of power once Casey Stoner arrives. Pedrosa could also be gambling on Yamaha being willing to ditch Spies to sign him when Spies' contract expires after 2011, and will want to be free for 2012.
The love affair between Dani Pedrosa and Honda, which has lasted since Pedrosa entered the series on a 125 in 2002, appears to be cooling from both sides. After Honda built the tiny 2007 RC212V around Pedrosa's short stature, creating a bike that Pedrosa hated along with every other Honda rider, the relationship has been more and more strained with every season that passes. From Honda's side, they had enlisted the Spaniard to bring them a title, something that is almost impossible for a rider with only two wins a season to achieve. From Pedrosa's side, HRC has refused to fix the one big complaint the Spaniard has had about the bike, the harsh and aggressive engine response.
Last year, Pedrosa and HRC extended their marriage of convenience for one more year, to give each other another chance. Both sides have improved significantly, Honda handling the rules limiting engines to just six a season with supreme aplomb, creating clearly the fastest bike, while Pedrosa has already bagged his quota of two wins this year after just 9 races, and has looked like posing a serious problem for Lorenzo, though not enough of one to prevent his compatriot from lifting his first championship. The mutual improvement will probably see both sides sign up for another year, to give the relationship yet another chance. But with the rules changing again in 2012, and the return to 1000cc machines, Honda is probably the best place to be for an aspiring rider. After the debacle of 2007, expect Honda to come out swinging in 2012, and Pedrosa is likely to be their chief threat.
Factory Ducati Marlboro. Though Marlboro will continue to act as title sponsor - and the only sponsor to actually contribute sufficient funds to cover development costs as well as rider salaries - Ducati has a host of companies lining up to join the Italian Dream Team of Rossi and Ducati. First and foremost is Fiat, who will defect from Yamaha with Rossi, but anyone can see the marketing magic that is the two Italian legends, and combined, their selling power could bring in much-needed outside sponsorship, potentially including some surprising names.
Valentino Rossi 2012 - The exact details are unknown, but Rossi will have signed on for at least two years, with options for more. Rossi will stay in the class for the 2012 switch back to 1000cc, and will be hoping to add a title with that configuration to the 500cc, 990cc and 800cc titles he already holds.
On Sunday night at Brno, after the post-race press conference, the dreams of a nation will finally come true. Valentino Rossi will at last announce that he has signed a two-year contract with Ducati Corse, to ride their Desmosedici MotoGP bike. The context of the announcement will set its tone. If Rossi has won, and beaten his irritatingly fast teammate, expect the tone to be magnanimous, full of thanks and praise for Yamaha. If Lorenzo beats Rossi once again - as he was doing consistently before Rossi crashed and broke his leg at Mugello - the focus will be on the fact that having two number one riders in a team is not a sustainable position.
There are lots of reasons why Rossi is going to Ducati, too many to cover here. Most of all, though, it is to escape Jorge Lorenzo, and have a chance to fight his current teammate with a different weapon. The move will further secure Rossi's place in the MotoGP history books, but if the Italian secures another title on his third different manufacturer, he will pass beyond the role of legend and into the realm of myth, and perhaps even deity. If he loses, then of course the machinery must be to blame, and expecting a plucky little Italian factory to compete with the Japanese giants is asking too much of their limited resources. Rossi will be praised for his bravery, the title of his autobiography cited again and again, ad nauseam. Tact and a fear of the fan backlash will prevent most people from providing the appropriate answer to the question "What if I had never tried it?" Namely, that with both Rossi and Lorenzo on equal machinery, the question of who was the better rider would have been settled beyond all doubt.
But power struggles within Yamaha and the financial pressure - from Dorna, from Ducati, from Italy - of the legendary Italian aboard the Italian legend meant that Rossi's arrival at Ducati was almost inevitable. If Rossi's following has been fanatical so far, it is about to become completely hysterical. And companies will be standing in line to both pay for and profit from that hysteria.
Nicky Hayden 2011 - Hayden will be offered another one-year deal, which probably won't be the last.
If Jorge Lorenzo was Valentino Rossi's worst nightmare as a teammate, Nicky Hayden is the polar opposite. Hard-working, loyal, fast enough to develop a motorcycle, but not quite fast enough to pose a serious title threat; Hayden is everything that Rossi could hope for in a teammate. Furthermore, Hayden is immensely popular around the world (and rightly so), and helps sell an awful lot of Ducatis: the special edition 848 that Ducati North America put on the market last year sold out within a couple of weeks. The Kentucky Kid has all the ingredients to make a perfect teammate for Rossi, and will be offered another year's contract by Ducati, the announcement probably to be made at Indianapolis, for maximum effect in the US market.
As for Hayden himself, the American has seen a dramatic turnaround in his fortunes from last year, when he looked like suffering the same fate as Marco Melandri. But with a year of data under his belt and a greatly-improved working relationship with the team, Hayden has taken a big step forwards. The Kentucky Kid has yet to score a podium finish, but with four fourth places in the first five races, that surely won't last. Another title for Hayden is a little too much to ask, given the strength of the current MotoGP field, but he could still add to his win total before he retires. He still has plenty of time to achieve that goal.
Factory Suzuki Rizla. Rizla will probably continue for another year, though the sum they are reputed to contribute barely deserves the title sponsorship they get in return. The task facing Paul Denning and co. is finding Spanish backing for what could be an all-Spanish lineup for 2011. After 2011, Suzuki look certain to pull out of MotoGP, after many long years of insufficient investment and its inevitable consequence, mediocre perfomance. Only a huge new sponsor will keep Suzuki in the series.
Alvaro Bautista 2011 - Bautista is in the first year of a two-year deal, which will see him through the end of next season.
Alvaro Bautista turned down the opportunity to continue working with Jorge Martinez Aspar, the Spanish team manager who has been so successful in the lower classes, because Bautista wanted the competitiveness of a factory-backed ride. Under the rookie rule which came into effect this season, that meant Bautista's only option was Suzuki, and you have to question whether those two words - "competitive" and "Suzuki" - are actually compatible. Ever since the switch to the four-stroke formula, Suzuki have failed to be competitive, and look a safe bet to pull out of MotoGP once the current contract with Dorna expires at the end of the 2011 season.
Bautista is currently in the first half of a two-year contract with Suzuki, and his contract will expire along with Suzuki's. The Spaniard has another year to prove he is better than the bike, and deserves a shot on decent (satellite) equipment. So far, his results have justified that chance, having beaten his more experienced teammate on a number of occasions. He will have to maintain that form for 2011 if he is to get a chance in 2012.
Toni Elias 2011 - All that will be on offer for Elias is a single year, with Suzuki unlikely to stay beyond 2011.
The case of Toni Elias is one of the most mysterious in the MotoGP paddock. Elias remains the last rider to win on a satellite bike, taking victory at the memorable 2006 MotoGP round in Estoril, and the Spaniard has proven himself competitive on both satellite equipment and in the Moto2 class, which he is currently dominating. But his nationality is precisely the problem. With two Spaniards with a genuine shot at the title, something that is beyond Elias, despite his obvious talent, Dorna has no interest in subsidizing Elias' position in MotoGP, and he does not have major personal sponsors ready to back him. In addition, Elias has gained a reputation for excessive salary demands, which resulted in him being forced to switch to Moto2 for 2010. A year in Moto2 has moderated Elias' wage demands, his desire to return to the premier class greater than his desire to fatten his bank balance.
Elias finds a perfect fit at Suzuki: Suzuki need to fill their roster at minimal expense, and Elias is clearly the best value on offer among new entrants (or returnees) to the class. Like Bautista, Elias will have a year to prove himself, before being forced to look for employment elsewhere. With experience of both Moto2 and MotoGP, Elias could find himself in demand in 2012, as the ideal rider for a CRT team running a production-based engine in a prototype chassis.
So far, though, nothing has been confirmed at Suzuki, but Elias is their best bet of filling the seat that no one wants while the bike is so uncompetitive. Fate is conspiring to bring Elias and Suzuki together.

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First, it's how Telefonica got upset and left MotoGP because of Pedrosa going to the Repsol team. Pedrosa was a factory Honda pilot since his 125cc days and the Repsol team is the factory MotoGP team - not Gresini. Could they not see that happening or were they promised something else? Without knowing the details and looking from the outside in, to me it seems silly that they would throw a fit because Honda drafted Pedrosa - their 2 time 250cc Champion - into their factory team. That just seem logical.

Why would Pedrosa gamble on Yamaha dumping Spies after 1 year in the factory team? Why would he even want to go to Yamaha with Jorge there? Aren't they bitter enemies?

I believe I read a comment from Jorge within the last two months describing an improved relationship with Dani. He mentioned that the bitter feelings primarily came from the feud between their two managers (and I'm willing to bet Jorge places more than a fair share of that on Puig). He said that while he and Dani, because of this, could never be "friends" they have however developed a healthy/friendly respect for one another. Something along those lines, someone correct me if I'm wrong.

How that translates into, they do know how to build walls at Yamaha, don't they.

No idea what Ben will want to do in 2012 but I'd be willing to bet Yamaha won't be kicking him out.

Imo nicky hayden is still a very serious threat for another world title just not on the 800 cc bikes. Nicky Hayden is basically a superbike rider and hates all of the modern electronics that you now have to deal with in Motogp and has basically struggle since he won his title in 2006 on the 990cc bike which was much less electronically dependent which is why i believe that a switch back upto 1000cc bikes and a possible limiting of electronics could see him right back at the top of his game once again making him a serious threat for anyone including his new teammate to be.

Although Nicky Hayden is undoubtedly a very talented rider, I agree with David's assessment that he's not a likely title threat with the current crop of riders. Remember that, even when he won the title in 2006, he only won 2 races during the season, one at Leguna Seca where few other riders had any experience. Pedrosa has since done the same thing season in, season out, and never really come close.

Hayden's 2006 title was more to do with a combination of uncharacteristic mistakes and bad luck on Rossi's part, coupled with a lack of consistency in the rest of the field, than Nicky's own dominance. He won through putting in the same kind of performance race after race. While he is now starting to rediscover this level of consistency, there are now too many riders in front of him that can be consistently faster, even on a bad day.

From Rossi's perspective, Nicky will be a perfect teem mate, and almost a direct replacement for Edwards - a great development rider, but always second fiddle.

"coupled with a lack of consistency in the rest of the field"
I read many a times of people's perception of Hayden's title - it was luck, Rossi had bad luck, Rossi had dnf's ,etc. But never have I read someone blame the whole field. Nicky was 3rd in 2005 - it's not like he came out of no where to win in 2006. Nicky was at the sharp end of the title chase all year and should have won it with a race to spare - that isn't luck. And all of the Rossi had bad luck or dnf's or whatever is not only part of racing but wouldn't have mattered if he went out and took care of business in Valencia when Pedrosa open the door for him by wiping out Hayden the round before. But Rossi didn't. The fact of the matter is that the only time in Rossi's career that the title went down to the last round when the pressure was on him to really perform he choked - or as it was so nicely put "uncharacteristic mistake". While Hayden kept his bike up right and bagged another podium for the title. He earned it - Rossi didn't.

I get pretty sick of the Nicky was lucky BS. Christ his team mate took him out and Honda gave him stuff all support. Actually Honda were pathetic. Problems with the clutch slipping that went on for a couple of races for instance.... I reckon you could say Nicky had more than his fair share of bad luck as well. Like RDawg said, it came down to the last race and I haven't seen a season finish as exciting since.

Hey guys, I'm not trying to belittle what Hayden achieved. He was world champion!

And I agree that Rossi did fail to stand up to the pressure at the end of the 2006 season, which in itself is uncharacteristic.

But to only win 2 races all season, and still clinch the title, does require a degree of luck. This in itself isn't a bad thing. Rossi has had the lion's share of luck in the paddock for most of his career.

But I stand by my original point. Hayden won through being consistency strong (not brilliant) when nobody else could. There are now too many riders who are stronger, and just as consistent.

Nicky's a lovely guy, but don't confuse what might be good for him, for fans or the series with what the harsh reality is.
Stoner- best possible outcome for him for 2011 is the Honda ride
Rossi- no new bike? Might struggle early season. Write him off at your peril
Lorenzo- if goes into 2011 as 2010 champ, then rightfully will be favourite
Pedrosa- Will suffer if Casey is fast early. Honda will ignore him. He'll probably end up on a bike that he can't touch the ground on.
Spies- As noted bu others- will need a rookie year win for confidence and to notify the aliens he's a real contender for 2011.
Hayden- Nice guy. Consistent top 5 finishes. That is all.

...a PEERLESS analysis of the season to come, as well as a likely VERY accurate prediction of seasons even further down the road. I learn a TON of stuff here, not to mention learning how much I DON'T know... :)

Where is Jerry Burgess going?

Where will Dovi be?

Oh, and I want to be on record as saying that Rossi WILL win a championship or two on the Desmo. Bet on it. Ducati are focusing a lot of their efforts on next year's bike, and it's gonna be a dandy. That, and they're gonna have a pretty good rider, too...

in Ducati putting too much effort or resources or making radical changes for next year's bike when they will scrape it for the 1000cc bike in 2012. I wouldn't think any of the factories will be putting huge sums of money in next year's bike which will only be good for 1 season.

I think Ducati has emphatically stated that they will not be developing a "new" bike for Rossi in 2011, improving with his excellent direction, yes, but new bike/development, no. That is reserved for 2012.

I think that they know the desmo 800 is really close to being a real contender, so I also think that they (and Marlboro) are rather likely to be willing to put a goodly amount of time (and money) into the cause of not simply treading water next year while waiting for the new and better bike.

This especially makes sense to me considering the essentially bottomless pockets of Marlboro.

They've got some ground to make up, but now that they have their prize...I think that the budget will essentially go straight out the proverbial window. I guess that I am now (shudder) a huge fan of the biggest of "Big Tobacco"... ;)

Anybody have any further info on Jeremy Burgess?

(p.s. Contador still sucks...)

I think Spies will throw a wrench in everyones cogs and battle for, and most likely win, the title next year - and many years to come.

The "aliens" will be brought back down to earth, and a new superstar will reign.

I have yet to see anything from Spies that shows that in the next year or two he'll be dominating all the other riders. Dani won in his rookie year and i think Jorge and Stoner did also.

Dani had two wins on a factory honda. Jorge had one on a factory yamaha. Stoner had a single podium 2nd place on a LCR honda. They all had spent 5+ years in the world championship learning about their rivals and the tracks. They came in when there was more preseason testing.

Spies came from WSBK after winning the title in his first season on a bike that wasn't the best on the grid, learning all new tracks, with a considerable amount of rotten luck along the way.

The only advantage I would think Spies had was that he came in used to 4 stroke bikes making 200+ hp, so he was used to the high speed, the engine braking and probably some of the electronics.

I agree that there is nothing to say that in the next year or two he will be dominating everyone else, because i simply don't believe that is possible for anyone, especially if they are big bodied like a Spies, but I do think he will be getting much better than he is now, and if given a better bike (factory yamaha) i don't see how he won't be a championship contender, assuming he stays healthy.

Dani and Jorge were in the full factory teams their rookie years. Stoner did not win a race his rookie year. No one, rookie or veteran, has won a race on a satellite 800cc bike.

...something that Stoner puts down to the Ducati being at the limit of its development. These issues are unlikely to have played a part in his decision to leave Honda, which was prob...

His not leaving Honda ;)

I got caught between writing leaving Ducati and joining Honda, and messed it up altogether. Fixed now, thanks for pointing that out.

I've often read that Honda built the RC212V around Pedrosa. Reading it stated as fact reminded me that it doesn't make any sense in terms of how HRC operates. They let go Rossi to prove it was their bike rather than a rider. Now we are to believe they pinned their hopes on one rider? The bike is small but all the bikes were smaller following the switch to 800cc. I think the myth has been perpetuated by disgruntled Hayden fans that have some image of him being some all-American, corn-fed, tall, midwestern farm boy that got a raw deal, when in fact he's pretty tiny himself. Have HRC come out and said they modeled their entire motorcycle around one one rider?

The most interesting things will happen in testing. Will Rossi go fast on the Ducati and will Stoner be able to go fast on a Honda? It will take the entire season or longer to determine if Lorenzo can take the helm in terms of development and if Spies can win on a factory bike.

It's a shame about Bautista. Out of Simoncelli, Aoyama and himself, I think he was the more talented rider. (not to take any bit away from the other two winning their championships)

Perhaps you mean "The bike for Pedrosa to be formed around."  While I grant your point that HRC have viewed their racing machines as engineering exercises, their is a lot of evidence to supplant the rest of your theory...

There is no question that the 2007 RC212V was the smallest bike on the MotoGP grid.  So small, in fact, that they were the only factory to have to radically redesign their engine to fit their frame (or, conversely, decided to make their engine smaller to allow for a smaller frame), prohibiting them from using a pneumatic valve system - which they were sure they wouldn't need.  Ever since then, they have steadily grown the bike to make room (literally) for improvements.  Then, it is through a mystical coincidence that this happened when the smallest pilot on the grid was contracted to ride that bike?

It is possible that the HRC engineers were told (or believed it was best) to make the bike as small as possible for purely performance reasons.  It is also reasonable to infer that if Rossi and Burgess hadn't left, there would have been more of a battle over that design paradigm.  But in the failures of that design pursuit, what, and/or who, is leading them to grow the bike?

The shortest and simplest answer to your claim that this argument stems (only) from disgruntled Hayden fans can be reduced to one word:  fairings.

Is it the fact that they've made the bike better for more riders the reason it may be the best on the grid now, or is it better for more riders because they've made it better for Pedrosa?  Either way, it wasn't until their boss threw out the engineering paradigm that the improvements had larger impact (pun intended).

There certainly is the appearance of Stoner heading to the right place at the right time, once again.

was perpetrated by the journalist before any "disgruntled Hayden fans". I read more than one say how stunned everyone was at the bike launch at the size of the bike and that Hayden could barely fit on it. By some of the answers Hayden gave about the bike's size when asked didn't quite the stir. Add in the fact that Honda had Dovi who is just as small as Pedrosa in the wings just fueled the fire. That's how I remember it going down - someone correct me if that isn't accurate. I'm not as sharp as I used to be!

I think the knee jerk reaction to the combination of the miniature bike and the presence of Pedrosa is clearly that there was a link. But the argument being sustained through 4 seasons without any direct evidence is questionable. Honda has consistently been in favor of miniaturization of the machine with 4 cylinder 125s and 6 cylinder 250s in the 1960s. It makes just as much sense to say they designed it for a Japanese rider like Hiroshi Aoyama, who is very close in size to Pedrosa.

I think if Pedrosa had been more successful they would not have bothered with making it better for others. Just ask Criville and the rest of the folks riding Hondas in the 1990s. They want winners on their bikes and damn the rest. Nothing wrong with that. But it is consistent with their actions over the last 45 years and still doesn't support the idea that the RC212V was made for one rider.

I agree. I was one of those who subscribed to the theory that the bike was built for Pedrosa b/c it was so damn convenient. But if you examine the MO of HRC over the years, they've been miniaturizing their bikes for quite some time. It's much more likely that Honda purchased a rider who would fit on their bike, not vice versa.

The theory that Pedrosa belongs to the bike was more or less confirmed in 2007. The first signs were Dani's discontentment with the bike that he allegedly designed. The second sign was Puig's remarks immediately following Dani's win at the Sachsenring, "When Dani ride the bike, he can do". Imo, these signs confirmed that Dani did not have much input into the bike's design and that HRC blamed him for not allowing their perfect 800 to realize it's full potential. It wasn't until Stoner, desmodromic valves, and Bridgestones proved to be considerable advantages that Honda finally pulled their heads out and accepted blame for the awful 2007 RC212V.

"Honda designed the bike for Dani" has been debunked.

I too wonder if that bike was really 'built around Pedrosa'. But even if it were, I always find it interesting how people hate the rider for that. Do we really feel he should have turned down the offer? Or what?

I want o go on record with my prediction of Jorge on a MONTESA with Telefonica sponsorship
James Toseland on a Triumph Trident sponsored with by Newcastle Brown Ale
Casey Stoner with Vegemite sponsorship for his Honda

Seriously will be great to see Telefonica back in the fold.

I honestly can't see him going anywhere in GP's. Maybe the odd podium next year - but I feel he is only ever going to be at Hayden/Dovi/De Puniet level - fast but 2nd tier.

Bayliss was probably the greatest SBK rider of all time and aside from Valencia he did nothing in GP's on a factory Ducati and pretty decent Camel RC211V.

Good luck to Spies, but moving onto the best bike on the grid, with the best rider (at the moment) is a hell of a lot of pressure.

Very good summary of the current prospects for next year! Spies has won championships at every level he's raced, in heated battles against stiff competition. On the factory Yamaha Spies is a leading threat for the Championship. The competition is stiff, but Rossi will struggle in his first year of the Ducati. If Spies doesn't win the title and I think he will, he will be in the top 3 of himself, Lorenzo and Stoner. More importantly Spies is one of the riders that will benefit most from the bigger bikes in 2012, taking advantage of his Superbike background. That is my prediction and occasionally I'm right! lol

When the 990cc MotoGP bikes where introduced most people thought that Superbike riders would have an edge over 2-stroke riders. Yet only Nicky Haden was the only Ex-Superbike rider to ever put on a real challenge for the championship (which he won that year), if I recall correctly (please correct me if I am wrong).

The new Moto1 factory bikes will probably have more in common with the current 800cc bikes than with Superbikes. They will be packed with electronics and will have all the chassis tuning options as the current bikes. Dani & Casey will probably have more benefit from there 1 year on a 990cc than Ben will have from his hole career in Superbikes.

In there 990 era there were still more 250cc riders drafted into MotoGP than superbike riders. Of those superbike riders only Nicky and Bayliss were drafted into the factory teams from the jump. Troy was dismissed after a injured plague 2nd season. And of course Colin was drafted into the Yamaha factory team his 3rd year to support Val and do testing. Edwards and Haga first started on the bucking bronco of the Aprilia, guys like Hodgson and Xaus went to a terrible Ducati satellite team, and Shakey was on the hopeless Aprilia and KR bike before they pulled the plug. Not exactly a large sampling on decent kit in the 990cc era.
One thing that I mention last year about Spies move to MotoGP - he's used to the electronics. He was racing Yosh Superbikes in the AMA in 05/06 with traction control before it was widely used in WSBK. So I think you are incorrect with your statement about Spies experience - I don't think he's even raced a season of superbike in AMA or WSBK without electronics. Today's superbike riders are used to the electronics. If you watch WSBK there are no more "slide and square off the corner and fire" type riding - not even from Haga. It's all nice and neat now. I think the use of electronics in superbikes will actually help superbike riders transition to MotoGP easier. But it always go done to if you have talent than you have talent - and Spies has talent.

I am a big fan of Bayliss but his win record in WSBK is 34%. Spies is 50% (not to mention on a new bike, team, tires, tracks, diet, etc).

Spies is a special talent (in the order of Rossi I believe but only time will tell). If he stays healthy and on a competitive machine he will have the same success in MotoGP that he has enjoyed his entire carreer.

But Spies was only in WSBK for one season, while Bayliss spent five complete seasons in WSBK. being a scientist i feel that it is too small of a sample size to see how good he really is. if he would have spent another year or two i feel we could compare Spies to Bayliss, but not with only one season under his belt.

I still dont see Spies finishing in the top 3 next year. it will still be 3 of the 4 aliens up there no matter what. even if they dont change the Ducati too much Rossi will still find a way to ride the bike fast.

Another solid assesment David. I have to go with RDawg's take on Nicky's 2006 title.
He won it...end of story.Rossi's 8 point lead going into Valencia was chucked away by Rossi. Like all, he is fallible and Lorenzo knows it,as does Stoner.
Rossi is on his way to Ducati because he cannot dominate Lorenzo on equal machinery,even with a brick wall that Lorenzo does not give a hoot about.
Stoner is on his way to HRC and I don't blame him after the shoddy treatment he got from Ducati for winning their first title on an average bike,albeit with a lot of grunt.
Runner up 2008 with scaphoid re-break etc.
Personally,I would like to see Stoner take it to George for the rest of the season,rather than just play the percentages.
The sattelite scenario is an even more interesting prospect.
I for one,reckon its time Loris and Colin vacated MotoGP.
No offence to either of those great riders,but they are not going to challenge for the title again.
Somehow,I'm pretty sure,neither will Rossi,but he will make a pile of money.

How lucky has Jorge been? Don't get me wrong, he is one of the best riders out there, but he has also had a great teammate to develop a great bike for him to ride. Now he will be coupled with Spies who I consider to be a better development rider than Lorenzo. Everyone says now we will see what kind of development rider he is with Rossi gone, but I think Spies will take the brunt of that role.

I honestly think that Spies will be one of the fastest riders next year and take a few pole positions and a couple of wins once he's on that factory bike, knows all the tracks, and has a years worth of data. All he really needs to do is sort out his comfort level on fresh tires and stay at the front at the beginning of the race.

Um, doesn't that actually make him unlucky? His teammate is none other than Valentino Rossi who with his crew developed the M1 since 2004 and would naturally know more about it than he would. Despite that Lorenzo has beaten the titan that is Rossi this year and has essentially driven him out of his own team - if you can call Jorge lucky then we can safely say that he made that luck all on his own. Even with Rossi's insistence on the wall between their garages and ban on data sharing (which in my opinion is nothing to do with developing the bike rather to put a stop to Lorenzo's competitiveness) Jorge and Ramon managed to sort out rear grip problems earlier in the season before the dream team next door did! The man has done what alot of people had never previously thought possible. Credit must be given when it's due.

who inherited the NSR 500 which had won the previous 6 titles in a row along with Burgess to boot and was delivered the RC211V which was the best bike in MotoGP history straight out of the create from Japan. It's pretty hard to top that.
I'm a huge Spies fan and have been following him since he was racing supersport and formula extreme but it's yet to be seen who is the better development rider between him and Jorge. There has been no indication that Jorge can't do it. With Jorge and Spies I would think development will be more of a collaborative effort than with Rossi. Yamaha said at the beginning of the year that Rossi and Jorge will go down their own path and Jorge hasn't shown any chinks in the armor.

Lorenzo did pretty well on the Derbi in 125s which was a difficult bike.
More recently, on quite a few occasions he was able to find a better setup for the M1 than Rossi, even Rossi had to admit.
I think he will do just fine developing a bike.

Again I feel it's a bit of a case of if something is repeated enough it becomes fact.

The fact is that he rode a Derbi in the 125s for several years and got better each year. Yes he did well. But he only had one other rider on the grid with whom to compare his progress and his predecessor as the lead Derbi rider was Youichi Ui who placed the Derbi higher in the standings than Jorge ever did (runner up with plenty of wins) and did it two years in a row.

It may have been a difficult bike, but the results don't back up claim of his working some set up magic on an unruly steed.

I have no idea how good he is at leading development of a MotoGP machine. But how well he does will be very interesting in terms of evaluating the Rossi legacy and Lorenzo's own future.

I doubt that HRC built the bike with Dani as the focus. The reduction from 990 to 800 should have suggested to any engineer that smaller is better.Dani also hates the thing and looks forward to the 1000 era come 2012.
Ducati stole the march in 2007 up until Catalunya that year,by throwing the kitchen sink at the engine.Paid off in Stoner's ruthless hands.
Pity the hand broke in 2008...Sachs I think.
Back to the Honda.That bike is getting better and better.HRC'S engine management is a gear up on the rest right now. I have to hand it to them,as a Ducati man, Honda are no slouches when it comes to reliability and efficiency. Arguably the best.
As for Ben,he is tied into a Yamaha contract for 2011,but should keep his options open for 2012.I reckon he could do at Ducati in 2012 what Rossi won't do at Ducati in 2011 or 2012 for that matter.


Great article! Thanks for the detailed information. I just wanted to bring up a minor detail regarding Rizla Suzuki. I agree that the past few years the Suzuki has not been as competitive as the other factory bikes and some satellite bikes. However, we must not forget the 2007 season, the first year of the 800cc bikes. Hopkins and Vermeulen had their best year in MotoGP. Hopkins and Vermeulen both reached the podium 4 times with Vermeulen getting a race victory in Le Mans. They finished 4th (Hopkins) and 6th (Vermeulen) in the championship. The top 4 spots were held by 4 different manufacturers, it doesn't get more diverse than that.They both proved that they can be competitive as riders on adequate machinery.

I was really disappointed that Hopper left for Kawasaki the following year. We all know how that turned out. Hopkins is a great rider and I've met him a few times out at the races and seems like a great person and really enjoys racing.

Honda's 2004 Plan Now Working for Hayden in 2006
Written by: Dennis Noyes London, England

(Moderator's note: please do not cut and paste complete copyrighted articles from other websites. Feel free to quote from them and add links to the original source, but copy and pasting complete articles can cause us real problems. Below are links to the original article (which is now defunct, it seems) and a copy of the text on the Adventure Rider forum)

It all started at how Nicky got the Repsol ride. Everyone knows that Yamaha was going to take Hayden to GPs after he won the AMA superbike title but American Honda stepped in and forced HRC's hand to take him. The relationship got off on the wrong foot.

When Val went to Yamaha HRC did not want Hayden to be the lead rider. They brought in Barros (who hadn't been a factory rider in a decade) in 2004 and Max in 2005. When he finally had a chance to lead development he won the title.

In an article earlier this year, Noyes reveled that Burgess never wanted to leave Honda with Rossi. Burgess wanted to stay at Honda but only if he could work with Hayden. Honda refused! They said no and that they had to think about it. From what Noyes says, they took a bit of time and by the time they got back to Burgess he had made up his mind to leave because he couldn't wait too long.

The Noyes article above just goes to show you what little respect HRC had for Hayden throughout his employment there. The clutch issues he had throughout 2006 was symptomatic of the real issue and I remember rumours of him pleading with HRC for the established clutch that he used in late 2005 instead of the development parts he was testing while leading the championship.

Back to the topic though... Rossi winning without Burgess on a new project would be the ultimate legend maker in my eyes, but I just can't see them splitting up now. I'm curious to see how implementation of development parts will occur next year though. Manufacturers can only run test riders so long on parts for their '12 bikes without getting race pace simulations with them. With limited engines and testing, I don't know how you balance the goal of a '11 championship and making sure you have proper direction from your A rider for the development of 1000cc pieces.

Rossi won two world titles before he had even met Burgess.
Ultimate legend already made.

A 125 and 250CC title were well earned but JB has been with Vale for every premier class GP win and was arguably the catalyst for the M1's transformation in 2004 from a Biaggi handbag to a title winner in the right hands. The experience he can bring with him (see Wayne Garder and Mick Doohan and varying bikes) and the communication already established with Vale, then I can believe the glass ceiling of Ducati's development can be broken through.

No fault of his own, but Lorenzo has had an easier year than he surely expected. Rossi tossed it away, early. Stoner tossed it away. Dani already won his two races for the year. Yes, Jorge is looking good. He's doing all he can do but his record so far doesn't add up to Rossi's. I can't see why so many are ready to push aside what Rossi has already done with 9 titles. Obviously the top 4 riders are something special, but I won't go so far as to say Rossi is in fear of Loresnzo. Let him win his first title in the big class and we can call it a good start, yes?

It's not about records. Records are nice to look at but don't give the whole picture. I don't rate Doohan above Rainey just because he has more wins and titles, the opposite actually. It's only fair to compare riders when they are actually racing each other in the same class and better yet on the same equipment. Lorenzo and Rossi have only been racing each other since 2008.

Sure, in the end Rossi's record is very likely to beat Lorenzo's (we will only know in... 20 years?), but I like to think we are well beyond those discussions on this forum. The present or nearby future makes for much more interesting comparisons.

I don't see anybody push aside what Rossi has achieved.

Lorenzo and his crew have shown that they can set up the bike as good as anyone, and from results, better than anyone else this season.

But for 2012, I have my money on Rossi for the switch. Yes, he inherited the class of the field when he took over Doohan's 500. But since he went through two completely new iterations, with two different manufacturers. And won everything, again and again.

So when they go to the 1k bikes, we'll see who can match him because quite frankly, he will be the one to be most likely to get it right first.

Jorge inherited a great bike, with which he went on to ride the wheels off of. And he has set up bikes like the Derbi, which weren't setting the world on fire when he got on them at first. But to start from scratch, in that, only Rossi is the known quantity.

This year, along with the next 3 seasons (maybe more), are going to be some of the best we will have ever had. So many competitive bikes and riders... it's a great time to be a race fan.

There seems to be some strong points being made about Jorge being lucky, Rossi not doing anything at Ducati for 2011 or even 2012!!
I have this post from last year made by some arm chair expert in regards to Spies that sound a lot like some comments made here about BS, JL, and VR:

November 5, 2009

"Nice guy, great Superbike racer, may achieve better than Edwrds. But he will in NO WAY be rookie of year next year that is between Simoncelli/Ayoma and possibly Bautista (if he stays on). He had a great year in (no scratch that amazing) superbikes but an 800cc GP bike on BS tyres must be Nothing like a SBK on standard pirelli tyres!!.
IMOP he will be lucky to get a 5th in 10 OR beat edwards. But before the BS fans class me as a hater I like him and wish him the best but these GP's are TOO far removed from a SBK he will need at least 2 years to get close and in the cutthroat land of GP he may not get anymore than that!!"

Posted by Darkwaknight

Doesn't that sound like "Rossi will not win the championship in 2011 or even 2012".
Not many fools bet against VR, even with out JB, Prezziosi (sp) is no engineering slouch!

I don't think Ben needs a win this year to show the aliens he's a threat - he has to show them he's as fast on equal equipment if he's Lorenzo's team mate next season. Ben's the top privateer so far in his first season on the bike, the only privateer to get on the podium while riding what is no longer the best privateer bike out there (IMO the Honda has caught up to the M1 and possibly surpassed it) against riders that have been in GP longer then him. He's also finished ahead of at least one alien on 2 occasions excluding their DNFs (Pedro @ Qatar & Pedro/Stoner @Silverstone).

And as much as I like Hayden, I don't see him winning another championship unless he somehow finds that extra bit he needs to run up from race after race. Everything lined up for him to win in '06, it would take extraordinary circumstances for that to happen again. I will look forward to him moving over to World Superbikes once his GP career is over though.

While Ducati say they aren't rolling out a new bike in 2011, odds are they're going to do all they can to ensure that #46 is in the hunt all year. They're not going to pay him all that $ and sit on their hands.

...exactly TWICE in a row.

Is a PAIR of victories now considered DOMINATION? I'm reading comment after comment about Jorge's dominating/owning/spanking/humiliating/banishing/trouncing Rossi.

That way of thinking sure paid off and validated itself in 2008, when Casey beat Rossi THREE WHOLE TIMES IN ROW!

Yamaha made a knee-jerk decision based on TWO victories and TWO broken bones. Only time will tell who wears the ignominy, and who wears the glory, but don't try to sell me on domination based on exactly two consecutive victories.

If there's anyone here--moderators included--who DON'T think that this season would look RADICALLY different if Casey/Ducati didn't have this front-end problem, and if there weren't a couple of broken bones added into this season's "recipe"...then please stand up or raise your hands.

When a professional racer (Casey) says that "mountains are flattening" in order to let Jorge through...well...doesn't his opinion count more than all of ours combined? Two of the three biggest contenders for this year's title (Rossi and Casey--sorry, Dani) are M.I.A., so for someone to be having an easy go of a given. DON'T get me wrong--Jorge is one of the top of the top of the top. I think there are three (or maybe 3.5--hee hee:D) humans out of a worldwide population of over six billion...that are as good as Jorge. I take nothing away from him. But two victories over a healthy Rossi--and victories that are attributed, according to many, to setup that Ramon COULD do, and that JB COULDN'T do--and a Ducati that is easier to ride, but nowhere near as powerful in the hands of the best ever on a red bike...that's good racing, and that's currently unbeatable performance...

But that's not irrefutable evidence of peerless, unstoppable prowess.

(Mind you, if this happened to Jorge and Casey and Rossi was cruising to an easy title, it'd be amusing, but hollow. As much as I love my boy, having him win against competitors that aren't just...hollow.)

It takes 2 to tango and it's Val that doesn't want to dance with them.

Rossi stated as early as last year that it was either him or Jorge - Rossi painted himself into a corner. It was Rossi who got upset last year because Jorge got a 1 year deal (which they didn't allow him to have previously) and Rossi was the one upset that Jorge contracts states he will get equal equipment.

Jorge turn down the higher offer from Ducati last year. He return to Yamaha for lesser money to be in the same time with the returning champ. Rossi is doing the opposite. Anyway you cut it Rossi is bailing out. Rossi has made it known that he doesn't want to be in the same team as Jorge nor does he want Jorge to have equal equipment. Jorge took on the challenge and Rossi isn't. He's taking the big money offer at Ducati that Jorge turn down so he can get all the special parts and treatment and have Hayden as his side kick. He doesn't want to be challenged in the team.

The only thing you can blame Yamaha for is not bowing to Rossi's demand - and good for them. You don't toss out a 23 year old world champion to be. Rossi made his bed and now that Jorge is the title leader with Yamaha he has to lay in it.

And don't poo poo Jorge's win or title run because Rossi is injured and missed races. Rossi has won races were Pedrosa was hurt, Jorge was hurt, Casey was hurt or sick and missed races. That's just part of racing.

I think Lorenzo would still have been the one to beat. Sorry.
And I really don't see what you're upset about. Comment after comment about Lorenzo banishing Rossi? Are we looking at the same topic?

Well, sort of...

Maybe it didn't all change when Rossi got injured and/or when his salary got cut, as I will mention in a minute...

It was silly of Yamaha to give away Rossi's development parts to Jorge. Was that not Jorge's way of saying that he needed some help? Why couldn't he do his own development work? Would YOU be angry if you were at an ABSOLUTELY CUT-THROAT JOB, and you were working on some data that was going to turn/continue the fortunes of the company, and then your boss rewarded your efforts...BY GIVING ALL YOUR RESEARCH AWAY to your biggest competitor?

Maybe he made his decision to go LAST YEAR. I don't think I heard that possibility said yet. I think I maybe would've. Yamaha crapped on the person who has MADE their name in the modern maybe his mind was made up last year. Regardless, I don't think of Rossi as a Honda pilot, and I guess that one day I won't think of him as a Yam man either...

In either case:

1) We are in for a GREAT few years of racing, and
2) THANK YOU (I really mean that) for disagreeing with me. I thoroughly respect the opinions presented here, even if I don't agree with all of them. Again, it's the sum total of all of us that makes MM so great. Besides, I learn a LOT here, and that serves to reduce the percentage of my posts that are blinkered, Philistine, and pig-ignorant. :D (if any of you can tell me where I get the "blinkered, Philistine..." reference, I'll be mightily impressed...)

'Nuff said. For now, anyway... :)

p.s. I'm not angry. Just passionate. I'd have a pint with any of y'all, any ol' day of the week. And I still think that Casey would've won a couple this year with better machinery...

p.p.s. I'm just thankful to have such a great group off whom I can bounce ideas. I don't know of ANYONE who has 1) a sensible, intelligent, mature brain, 2) has a deep love and understanding concerning Moto GP, and 3) LIVES CLOSE TO ME. Does anybody here live in HOUSTON?

Look at it from Yamaha's perspective, the team's perspective. Why shouldn't Yamaha give Lorenzo the same parts? To make Rossi happy? Ridiculous. What's the point of Yamaha taking the M1 down two different development paths? Yamaha shouldn't sacrifice common sense and bow to Rossi's rather unreasonable demands.

Rossi is already getting rewarded by continuously being the most highly-paid rider in MotoGP EVER, he should have NOTHING to complain about. Besides, Rossi is a RIDER, not a developer (as many seem to forget these days). So what if Lorenzo gets the same parts Rossi does, why doesn't Rossi stop whining and just OUTRIDE Lorenzo?

Rossi would have never been as successful at YAMAHA without YAMAHA'S effort and investment! It's Rossi that is essentially crapping on Yamaha, there was a deal for him, it had more millions in it than Lorenzo STILL and he didn't take it. The total opposite to what Lorenzo is doing right now, he was offered a huge amount from Ducati compared to what Yamaha was offering him yet he still stayed with Yamaha to fight the nine-timer on the same bike...

It's not "Rossi's parts" nor is it "Rossi's bike" - they belong to Yamaha. Rossi doesn't crunch any data, sit a design board or CAD and draw out any parts nor does he machine any parts with any CNC machines nor does he fabricate anything. Yamaha pays him AND Jorge to ride the bike so the engineers can use the data and feedback which they use from BOTH riders to develop parts for BOTH BIKES. You seem to be under the impression that Yamaha only uses the data and feedback from Rossi - that's not how it works. It's called a team for a reason. Then manufactures goal is to have the best bike on the grid and to have BOTH riders as high in the championship as possible and win the manufactures title.

To say Rossi made the Yamaha name is ridiculous at best.

And to say that Yamaha crapped on Rossi is is even more ridiculous. A more accurate statement would be that Rossi tossed the toys out because Yamaha wouldn't handicap Jorge nor bow to his demands. You are saying that Rossi is right to request that Jorge gets a "lesser" bike. To me that looks like Rossi is scared of Jorge.

Your post does seem to be a bit blinkered because you are pointing the finger at Yamaha and refuse to acknowledge the fact that Rossi has painted himself in the corner with his Jorge or me attitude, it was Rossi who wanted the wall and didn't want to share data with Jorge, it's Rossi who is packing his bags and leaving because Yamaha won't handicap Jorge when Jorge stayed and took up the challenge last year.

I'm upset that Val is leaving Yamaha. Instead of "man'ing up" and taking on the challenge, he's whine about what Jorge is getting instead of taking the fight to Jorge like Jorge took the fight to him. He's complaining that Jorge has the same kit as him - how can you defnd that? Now that Ducati is offering him some "cheese" with his "whine" he's tucking tail and leaving.

Yamaha was winning race after race in the 4 stroke era before Rossi came. And Rossi should just be grateful that Yamaha let him ride their championship winning bike. If Rossi hadn't had the benefit of a faster riders input from someone like Lorenzo, Yamaha would have been at sea and not built him a bike that he could take his solitary win on this year. If 7 world championships handed to him on a platter isn't enough, good riddance to Rossi and see if he can get one handed to him by Ducati like Stoner did.

Yamaha was going nowhere in the 4 stroke era until Rossi came along, he was busy winning the majority of races on a Honda. The years prior to that it was Doohan on a Honda 2 stroke dominating. It was a drought for Yamaha for years until Rossi started riding for them.

So much for intelligent debate.

I am monitoring this discussion closely, as it is skimming along the edge of the permissible. There are valid points being made on both sides, but they are being made with perhaps a little bit too much emotion. I find counting to ten before posting helps. If that doesn't work, the moderators may have to prune a few comments.

...comments (more or less):

First, a couple of across-the-board comments, then I'll address the posts in chronological order.

Before I say any of this, I want to make it abundantly clear that:

1) As far as I'm concerned, we're all friends here, and that's how I'm always gonna keep it from my end. I'm a smartass by nature, but I make it a point to try and subdue that tendency here, since it doesn't translate into the printed word very well. I respect and enjoy the viewpoints of EVERYONE here, and I want you to know that I NEVER, EVER will make any pointed comments to hurt anyone's feelings. At least, not on purpose. If I EVER make a total jackass of myself, please tell, me and I will apologise IMMEDIATELY. We're not here to insult anyone's Mama, Dad, wife or dog. We're just fans of the best motorsport in the world.

2) I admit that I own some yellow hats, shirts, etc., but I also REALLY like Jorge. For that matter, I also like pretty much ALL the riders. I used to basically abhor Casey, but I have come to understand him a lot more this year, so while I may not be a huge "fan" of his, my respect for him has grown in leaps and bounds. I even kinda like Pedrosa now, and I didn't think I would ever say that.


4) I'm trying to explain my understanding of how I feel VR feels about things, as well what I feel about things. We aren't dealing with "humans" here, anyway. We're dealing with "The Aliens", so how we would respond to things...well...we can't say, unless we were in their shoes. Of COURSE it seems silly to turn down 8M monetary units (I figure it's Euros), but in the context of how those offers are made, as well as the perceived valuation a company or team puts on the efforts of an employee (rider), it changes a lot of things. I have a viewpoint, and ultimately it doesn't matter ONE SINGLE OUNCE what I say, because we can all agree that nuclear bombs really have warheads made up entirely of marshmallow creme...and that wouldn't change the reality of what really comprises a nuclear warhead. I'm making my guesses, and I'm learning at the same time. Every time I'm wrong, I learn something new, but still, I'm trying to put aside my ideas about how I would handle something...and try to think about how "they" would. I stick to the facts as much as possible, I try to make my statements "if/then" statements as much as possible. I add my opinions only after that, if possible. I'm CERTAINLY no smarter than any of you. I have a LOT of opinions, and I'm (OBVIOUSLY) certainly not afraid to either offer them, OR to be wrong. that end, I offer these replies.

1) The comment about "giving Rossi's parts to Jorge" is something Rossi said himself. Whether or not we agree, one member of a team gets new parts first. F1 is full of this. Rossi is the senior member, and was really leaked off about having his parts that he had helped develop handed over to his teammate. Jorge said that getting those parts was his condition on staying, along with a one-year deal.

2) I said "MADE their name IN THE MODERN ERA". That qualifying suffix was important, and it was there for a reason. It had been since Wayne Rainey that Yamaha had been World Champions. Their 4-stroke program was in anything but good shape. Then, it all changed when one #46 showed up.

3) Screamer: In my understanding, the riders ARE the ones who develop the bikes. No, they don't machine parts, but they provide the feedback necessary to build the beast via informing them what works and what doesn't, etc. Yamaha DID put a huge amount of investment into their program, but it was essentially, ahem, ummm, how shall I say rather poor shape before one VR came along. Oh, yes, I KNOW the "standard story" people peddle that says:

"Yamaha's increased commitment increased right at the time that Rossi came to the team, and that they were going to work harder anyway, and that it wasn't Rossi who was responsible, because they would have succeeded with any rider because it was right at that time that the factory got really serious about their Moto GP effort, but it just so happened to coincide with his arrival, etc...."

but the fact remains that he is given credit by people much more important than me for methodical way which he went about working with the engineers developing the M1 into the machine it is today. He and Jeremy took it largely to what it has become, and then, to coddle the #2 rider on the team, and to give him all the new stuff that the #1 rider is developing... I'm just saying that that's not how it traditionally works. Right or wrong, that's how racing works.

Let me again say that Jorge beat Rossi TWICE IN A ROW. We're not talking years of dominance.

The deal was for more money than Jorge, yes, but the false pretenses under which his salary was cut, along with not treating him like the team would upset ANY of us here. He and JB developed the bike, and they've repaid him with treatment that stings, and rightly so. I'm not denying Jorge's MAJESTIC levels of talent. I'm just discussing the way they treated their #1 rider, who has sold more bikes, gotten more press, and raised their profile around the world more than any other rider. (Thankfully, none of this happened to me, so I don't have to be upset about it.)

4) RDawg: Again, I said he made their name "IN THE MODERN ERA." Biaggi wasn't doing a great job of it before VR. They hadn't a decent bike--or at least a WC--in 11 years before Rossi.

Of COURSE the bike belongs to Yamaha; however, comma, Rossi has given the direction and feedback, which then goes to the engineers, who then go to the mathematicians and programmers, who then type in the parameters on the CNC lathes/rapid prototypers, which then become parts of the bike. They give the rider equations without solutions, and after a few laps, the answer comes in. From said answer, the engineer knows what to machine, how wide it should be, its torsional rigidity, length, etc. They have no parameters on what to make until they find out what works, and what doesn't work...

After all that Rossi has done to win WCs, be largely responsible for developing the M1 into the bike widely acknowledged as the class of the field for recent years, as Yamaha brand ambassador to the world...and then they give preferential treatment (in the realm of how team politics goes) to his number one unwise at best, but closer to inexcusable if you're VR. He really HAS done more for them than any rider since Rainey, more than any other current rider has done, and many people who are a LOT wiser than me agree that he is largely responsible for the explosion in Moto GP's popularity around the world in the last decade. Certainly, you understand that when you're the most popular motorcycle rider in the history of the sport, when you hold most records, when the vast majority of fans tune in or show up to see YOU, you expect the same treatment from your team. Judging from things Rossi has said, to be:
A) lied to about the reasons for the salary cut
B) to have your development work given to your teammate (which, as I understand the workings of a team, IS NOT "the done thing"), and to
C) see your teammate get a 1-year contract (which, again, as I understand it, IS NOT "the done thing")
well...that would chap your hide. Big time. Yamaha pays $13M Euros (or whatever it is), and they get a bazillion "moneys" in exposure. Talk about a GREAT ROI. But I don't think that they shouldn't have just taken the right-now sure thing. Sure, Lorenzo's going to win more than one WC, he's going to be much bigger than he already is, and Yamaha SHOULD keep him. But I think they should've either told the truth, or they should've just ponied up the extra few million "moneys"...and been virtually assured of a WC this year, next year, and...

I think they should've shown a bit more respect for the man who brought their program out of a 11-YEAR dry spell. Again, Lorenzo IS the future, but VR is still here, and got beaten by Jorge TWICE IN A ROW.

Pride probably had a pretty big part in it, but if you were VR...wouldn't you have a pretty HUGE ego? Money was part of it, but the way he was treated was part of it. Really, now, just how outrageous CAN the demands of a rider be, when he has brought you ALL the WCs you have had in the last 18 YEARS? I think that if they had offered the money, not lied, and hadn't handled the situation in the manner that they did, they'd have kept both Jorge and VR.

5) Brookespeed: Ummm...welllll...uh... Hmm...

(ATTENTION: This particular section has been deleted/altered by the goon who wrote it. His point about sarcasm not translating well to the written word...proved uncomfortably true. The bottom line here is that: A) Brookespeed is funny, and
B) Many (if not most) don't get the joke...)

I hope that these comments clear the air a bit. If I have stepped over the line in any way, shape, or form, please accept my apologies, and tell me where I stepped over the line so that I can delete it. There is NO topic over which I'm willing to lose a friend, just so we're clear.

OK. So now I get half dozen OMELETTES on my face.

Going back to my point about sarcasm not translating into the written word, there's my point proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. In person, on the phone, on radio, or on TV, it would have been funny. Hell, it IS funny, but I had choose to either call you on it, act like you actually meant all that, ignore you completely, or some combination of the three... Any of them (or ALL of them) might've 1) offended you or 2) landed me in trouble, neither of which was palatable.

So I played it safe, and I didn't get to enjoy the joke. Not right then, at least.

Seriously, though, you should at least put some sort of indication of your intention...or else those who don't know you will wonder if they can/should say anything in response. BUUUUUUT, then again, now that I think of it, you might well be like one of my best buddies who makes comments at public gatherings which leave all in attendance wondering if he's kidding...or if he's just a complete fool (and an insane one at that). Then, after he makes these comments...he never clarifies whether or not it's a joke, and everyone is left wondering (uncomfortably) if they should call him on it, or if they should just assume that he truly is a complete and utter fool. So, he heads out, leaving everyone to wonder about his sanity. I admire that about him, because he JUST DOESN'T CARE, because the joke's on them. It's great.

Well, at least I know now that I've got a friend here who's unafraid to "go there" with the humor, and make comments like one would see at one of those "sportbike" websites.

It may not be possible to publicly, and on a large scale, successfully convey parody/sarcasm in print (although Bill Bryson is absolutely BRILLIANT at it--if only because people expect it from him and know that it's coming), but KEEP IT GOING, Brookespeed, because at least I WILL get it, and that's one person more than you had yesterday...

Cheers, Brookespeed. I underestimated you. I "wrote you off at my peril"... :)

I made a comment a week or two back about something being the dumbest thing I'd ever read. It got deleted and rightly so. I stand by the statement, but making comments that are just offensive just fuel the devolution of a discussion. My sarcasm was really trying to avoid posting something like that while expressing a similar sentiment, but was still ultimately unnecessary.

I FERVENTLY hope (and pray, for that matter) that most (no, let's just go whole-hog and hope that ALL) of the regular readers/usual suspects in our merry little band of miscreants read your last couple of posts. If that happened, then you'll be in a position of MUCH greater safety to add in your choicest bits of smartass (or, for our friends across the pond, "smartarse") humor (humour). Now that the word is out, I hope that you'll actually be adding some much-needed levity to our occasionally "spirited" discussions. If you wanna play it safe(r), you can just add a smiley face at the end of one of those posts, and then you'll likely not incur TOO much wrath... Regardless, I'm glad I know that you're simply adding a, "Oh, YEAH? Well, listen here, pal, MY Mom can beat up YOUR Mom!" element to the banter...

Oh, and "devolution"...TOO GOOD... I mean, that's CLASSIC... Not only have I ALWAYS been a hardcore geek of a wordsmith, but I'm married to a Brit, and now, not only do I get to geek out EVERY SINGLE DAY with "Sweetie Pie", but I'm free to do so here, with other like-minded individuals. Believe me, I love EVERY minute of it... It's positively SURREAL to be surrounded by not only kindred spirits in the sport we love, but also that we share a love for (and a depth of knowledge concerning) the English language. A positively MONSTROUS percentage of bike riders and enthusiasts are (to partake in grotesque understatement) knuckle-draggers who (while clothed in only a pair of cut-off shorts, sandals, and whose helmets are usually strapped to the helmet holder on their bike, or completely non-existent) are perpetually pissing off other drivers with suicidally dangerous maneuvers in heavy traffic. Oh, and let's NOT forget that the rear tires of their liter-class sportbikes have HUGE flat spots down the center of the tread, while the sidewalls are pristinely clean and shiny enough to be used as a mirror. You know the guys to which I am referring...

Then, there's US. We use words like "devolution", while the "other guys" would just think you'd made a typo, if they even noticed at all.

OK. I'm done. Hope you got a chuckle out of my snarky (but accurate) observations. Keep the good stuff comin', Brookespeed. I get the joke, and hopefully we ALL will from now on...

I'm totally agree with RDawg on Jorge/Rossi case,but i'm agree also with crimson tide when he said "this season would look RADICALLY different if Casey/Ducati didn't have this front-end problem, and if there weren't a couple of broken bones"

I love this sport.

I totally respect ALL the riders.

IMO - If they were all riding M1's this year, it would be mostly Rossi vs Spies for the top box.

If a frog had wings he wouldn't have such a sore bum.

I can't wait for Indy to get here.

Not to beat a dead horse but the comments about Rossi being driven out by Lorenzo are rediculous to say the least. Who knows what would've happened had Rossi never crashed. Thats like Pippen driving out Jordan. Who knows exactly why Rossi left. Sure Lorenzo might have factored into it, but so did money and basically everything else. When you're Rossi you get to make decisions. He didn't want to take a pay cut and Yamaha wouldn't budge so he's leaving. We've seen how this has played out before and to tell you the truth I expect similar results this time around. Yamaha might very well have egg on their face if Rossi does to them what he did to Honda which is not unlikely.

As for Spies, I'm a little surprised at how high everyone is on him. Winning the Championship next year? Thats outrageous and I love Spies but I'm not gonna say he'll pose a serious threat for the Championship. Has he shown form? Absolutely, he's running with the big dogs sometimes. But he's not there yet and a factory ride isn't gonna be the solution. Most of these tracks its his first time riding them. It'll take him atleast next season til he's there. But hey I like his odds in 2012, he should be right on schedule by then...

Not to say I believe that he will win the championship next year, but.. I can say this. Many of Spies' fans admire him simply because he is quite usually way 'ahead of schedule'.(That and he is exciting to watch race).

I think Elias is exactly the kind of guy that could throw a surprise on an uncompetitive bike, like he did on the Pramac. I'd love to see him on the Suzuki.

Time to give my opinion again. (last time I got hammered so lets see how this goes with a little less emotion interjected :)

2007 RC-212V: This bike my not have been design by Pedrosa but it was designed for him. Not Hayden. HRC knew good and well what Hayden's physical dimensions were when they designed the 212V. They knew good and well he would not fit on it properly. When the design process started they knew they would have to have a rider significantly smaller than Hayden. Whether HRC chose Pedrosa before or after the act is irrelevant. HRC chose the design regardless of Hayden's needs. Given that a completely new design can take over a year to create, it's fair to say that HRC also didn't expect Hayden to win a WC and so they may have made the decision with no malice in mind as well. Also, it's been widely reported that at the start of '06, Pedrosa was to be the test rider while Hayden was to be the lead rider but Pedrosa refused this role and thanks to Puig's deep ties into HRC and Repsol, Pedrosa was able to get way with that stance when any other rookie rider would not have. This bike was NOT designed for Hayden and HRC knew that.

Hayden: His fan's deep seated resentment of Pedrosa, and most especially Puig, stems for this combination of how HRC deliberately designed a bike that wouldn't fit him and how Puig managed to shuffle him into what looked like a second tier role within HRC while leading and then winning a WC. Even though Puig was doing his job of supporting his employer (Pedrosa) it simple looked like bad form to Hayden fans. You don't throw the guy with the points lead or the No. 1 plate under the bus and come out clean. In 2006, Hayden ran clean races, didn't screw up like others did, and simple rode like he always has in GP; with determination and consistency. The pay off was a WC that was in the hands of GOAT to loss and he did. Did Hayden develop the great RC211V? No, but in 2006, despite being the development developer, riding a bike that was widely reported to have development issues at times, he still a manged to EARN enough points to win the WC. Will Hayden win another race? Maybe. Will he win another WC? Highly unlikely. But these aren't the qualities that endear him to his fan to begin with. It's his work ethic and positive attitude. He may bitch at times but it's a let less than the divas that the aliens come across as at times. This is what makes him popular with his fans and what helped Honda and now helps Ducati sell bikes. Something the factories GREATLY appreciate.

Spies: He's the real deal. Looking at this season's results as an indicator of his potential has to be looked at in the right light. He's on a satellite bike. He's never going to win a race riding a second tier bike. The Tech3 M1 is not, never has been, and never will be as good as Fiat M1. There's no reason for Yamaha to make it so. Yamaha has the '10 WC in the bag so why risk messing that up so Spie's can win a race? Remember the fall out when Barros won a race on a satellite Ducati? If Spies ever wins a race in '10, Fiat will have someone's head from Yamaha on platter. It's safe to say Yamaha knows this and won't let it happen. In 2011, Spies will know more tracks, hopefully be on an factory M1, and then we'll get a look at what he can do when on a truly equal footing. Will he win races? Likely. Will he win a WC? Not likely as hell play second to JL. But he will be very much at the front and contending. There's nothing that says otherwise by his past accomplishments. Remember, JL, CS, and DP had very similar entries into GP their first year (major up's and down's) and all proved to be the real deal in year two when all were on factory rides.

Dovi, Pedrosa, and Puig: I think Dovi has the potential to be the real deal. I also think he's been hang strung because he's on a team where his team mate has a manager who still has huge influence that forces him to play second to Pedrosa despite a great start to the year. Remove Puig from Pedrosa's corner and I think he'd crumble. Is this a bad thing or even a real thing? Who know's? How good would Rossi be without Burgess? Who knows? The reality is that Pedrosa implies Puig and vise versa. It is safe to say that based on years of evidence, Dovi won't get a fair shake so long as he is paired with Perdosa/Puig. It may take a pairing like Stoner/Suppo to unseat Pedrosa/Puig at HRC.

Rossi: Unless Bugess goes to Ducati, Rossi won't win another WC. If Rossi does, he'll cement his name at the top of GP lore forever as the greatest. Record wins will be irrelevant. All will be irrelevant. Rossi = greatest, all others = lesser. For a long time anyway. Also, I know we're all assuming that the press has this right but it's not officially a done deal. What if? What if this doesn't happen and Rossi stays at Yamaha? How does this whole discussion change? Greatly I'd say.

Honda publicly stated that they DID NOT build that bike for Nicky. They also allegedly publicly stated that they built it around Dani. Even if they didn't, they only had TWO factory riders, and they said that IT WASN'T built for the bigger of the two. That is overwhelming circumstantial evidence. Nicky said this on many different occasions. It's not really debatable. It's just a fact. I didn't say it. Nicky DID.

You make a LOT of good points. I don't agree with ALL of them, but you're well-spoken, obviously educated, you have sound opinions, and I don't see anything for which you should be slammed.

Period. Full stop.

Good post.

I don't know, the manufacturers would really flipi out if a satelite bike won? And if that is the case then that is extremely dissappointing. If I was a manufacturer I would want ALL my bikes (factory and satelite) to beat all the other manufacturers. I think if a satelite bike were to win a race then it would just show that much more prowess for the manufacturer beating their factory rival manufacturers.

Regarding the prospect of Rossi leaving Yamaha, I think most people are forgetting an important set of details in the timeline (David, you may feel free to borrow liberally from this perspective in the future)...  There has been a larger scale/smaller scale similarity happening in America's NFL for most of the last 5-8 years.  His name is Brett Favre (I always love it when I can legitmately find a way to include him in MotoGP conversations!), and their name is the Green Bay Packers.

For those who don't know, Brett Favre is to the quarterback position what Valentino Rossi is to Motorcycle racing, but with signficantly less public charisma.  A few years ago, he began publicly pondering an unnecessarily early retirement during the off-seasons.  He would lament the physical toll on his body, and the increasing emotional effort necessary to gear up for the subsequent season.  The contracts became shorter, but with larger numbers to entice him to stay.  As time wore on, the team's management began to develop a plan for the inevitable liklihood that one day their future Hall of Fame quarterback would, indeed, not come back from the off-season.  So they drafted a high-quality replacement and allowed him ample time to intern in the #2 spot, in the shadow of the GOAT.

The day eventually arrived, 2 years ago, for Brett Favre to call a press conference and bid a tearful goodbye to the people and sport he had loved so much.  It was a sad day, but signified a relatively satisfying closure for all involved...  until about four months later,  when the aging quarterback decided he was not done yet.  His prior employer of 16 years, did not have an available seat for him to fill, and certainly not for his typical asking price.  Neither, however, were they attracted to the idea of him playing for a competitor they were likely to see during the season.  So, what had been amicable became contentious until an agreement was finally forged for him to return from "retirement" to play for another team.  This process was repeated the following off-season as well.  Now, after the beginning of a new pre-season, there is still seemingly constant discussion of the possibility of yet another appendix being added to the story - though, at this point, time's a' wastin'.  To this day, among fans of his original team, there are still split loyalties about who was in the wrong and who should own the resulting bitterness.

The parallel?  Valentino Rossi had been publicly flirting with a seemingly early departure from his beloved sport.  He intimated that there just wasn't enough competition to maintain his interest, and was looking for new challenges - which eventually arrived, ahead of schedule.  Nevertheless, he did not return to Yamaha with a renewed interest in a long-term contract securing his services into, and beyond, retirement.  Rather, he chose to inch along, as it were, continually hanging the possibility of looming departure over the heads of Lin Jarvis and Davide Brivio.  What were they to do?  They hired the Next Big Thing.  Who wouldn't?

So, in a perhaps vain attempt to dissuade global acrimony, I suggest that everyone stop and consider for a moment that these issues of whether Valentino is leaving because of Jorge would not exist if Rossi had offered a long-term committment to Yamaha.  Period.  All of these machinations, ever since, go back to that one (lack of) decision.  I have to believe that Rossi knows this and, therefore, will never suggest that he has been in any way wronged by Yamaha.  Whether or not he was also harboring ambitions of leveraging this as a bid to come to Ducati for a maximum paycheck is entirely unknowable to all of us.

We all need to back off and accept it for what it is:  change, beyond our control.

...most of what you said. Not all of it, but most of it. Regardless, all that you shared was extremely well-said, and makes a LOT of sense. As you can tell by my name, I am THOROUGHLY in love with American football. College more than pro, but I love pro, too. Anyway, you make some excellent points, but that's what we expect from you, because you always make some excellent points.

ROLL TIDE! 37-21!

(p.s. $16 MILLION for THIS season ALONE? WOW.)

While it wasn't my favorite submarine movie, they DID say, at the rain-soaked "keynote address" by Gene Hackman, "GO 'BAMA! ROLL TIDE!", which thrilled me no end.

Oh, and by the way, giving credit where credit is due (or blame, depending on your point of view), I owe you a HUGE debt of gratitude. You see, I found out about MM solely because of YOU. I was at my Dr.'s office (the surgeon who has done 13 of the 23 operations I've had on my back), reading through an issue of AutoWeek, and I came across an article written by one "Rusty Bucket". Despite the fact that, not only did the article SUCK, and that it also had a bunch of "hoity toity" words in it that I didn't understand and couldn't pronounce (;) HA!), I saw in the notes on the author that he also was regular contributor to a website (then) called, so I sallied forth with all possible dispatch to said website. The rest, as they say, is history. THAT is why y'all have been stuck with me ever since...

Thanks for that... I owe you. BIG TIME.

So we have that and back injuries in common (thankfully, though, I've never needed surgery, especially not 23 - yikes!).

A belated "welcome"!  You should hang out with us on the Forum.

And, FWIW, the editor cleaned out probably even more hard-to-pronounce words for the final draft than what I originally wrote... ;-)

I'm "THAT GUY" who royally spilled his guts about his life when Rossi got hurt. I admit it.

In two sentences: I've had a TON of work done on my back, I'm in a HUGE amount of pain from a 60-foot fall, and watching Rossi (with whom I had a veritable plethora of similarities before I got injured) ride like he does...really made me forget my pain for a little while. When I found out that he was hurt, it not only hurt my heart, but it made my pain levels hit the stratosphere. So, I decided that I would share that with "the fam", and I was frankly SHOCKED with the response I got. Mind you, I DID NOT tell my story just to get a response; I just wanted to tell why and how much the news of his injury hurt me (mentally AND physically). We share our happiness (and occasionally anger) all the time. I just "sacked up" and shared some pain for once. REAL men can admit when they're...choked up, however few those instances may be. For me, my hero being snapped in half was one of those moments. For that matter, being on the receiving end of kindness from more-or-less perfect strangers was one of those moments, too. Anyway, my fears of being called a "big wuss" weren't realized (at least not that I know of). I DID take the time to write a few emails to the "family members" who wrote such (frankly amazingly) kind words to me, and I think that I miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight have waxed a tad too eloquent or poetic or philosophical...because I didn't hear back from any of the folks to whom I wrote "Thank You" notes. Oftentimes I get myself in hot water, because on days that are much more painful than others (today being one of them), I throw myself into mental matters (like writing) with a 112% try and lose track--if only for a minute or two--of how crappy I feel. When the smoke clears, what I've written is usually pretty high octane. And that freaks out juuuuuuust about anyone who can be freaked out. Ah, well. You can like or hate what I write...but at least you always know that you're getting the TRUTH from me.

Anyway, someone else invited me to the forums once. I think I need to take you up on that!

(Wait a minute...oh, crap. A little red warning light just flickered on in my head. You've HEARD of me? Oh, boy...maybe the word got around... So did I end up being tarred with the epithet "wuss" anyway?) ;)

"You're the one..." person who saw the article and came over here... ;-)

Indeed, sensible verbosity (even the cathartic kind) is welcomed on the Forum.

Back surgeries and now horrible nerve damage, constant pain but I've turned to motorcycle racing and trying to learn the sport as a way to "leave" my body for a while; mentally that is as physically I can't do much moving. That's the reason we couldn't do the 2 hour drive to Laguna - crushed, horrible seething disappointment. I'd have found a way to get all the signatures on my two-arm crutches...or just steal Rossi's, his are cooler.

Tell you what, blog posts can be really entertaining when the meds kick in. And the things you see!

Hang in there, run and play in your mind - I can see you have a fighters spirit. God bless.


Well said. Can't say I ever saw the parallel before, however I wouldn't have considered Favre as the GOAT. Whether VR relishes in beating the top competition on a different or similar bike, I can't say. From a fan standpoint though, I appreciate a mix of manufacturers at the top of the standings list, so I appreciate (assuming it does happen) Rossi moving to Ducati. I think it will make for better racing next year.

Obviously there are more differences than just those between motorcycle racing and (American) football, but in Wisconsin and selected enclaves around the country, Favre is The GOAT.  My point was not to wage into a debate about that, but to illuminate the rather striking similarities between the two high-profile life-dramas.

What im actually interested in seeing is if Lorenzo stays one of the best if not the best rider in motogp after the changes coming in 2012. Whos to say that he will hes never even raced a bike that big before since he came in in 2008 when they were already on the 800cc bikes. Maybe he wont be as fast on the larger machinery and at the very least it will at least be a new adjustment for him where as the other aliens have already proven themselves on the larger bikes before.