2011 Silly Season Update: Who's Confirmed And Who's Not

With the highest-profile moves all officially confirmed, MotoGP's Silly Season is starting to run out of steam. The big surprises are out of the way, and we are left with just over half the seats still unfilled. But even for the unsigned rides, names have already been penciled in, some rather more firmly than others. 

The two big names still waiting to put their signatures under contracts are surely Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. Lorenzo's Brazilian manager is said to be playing hardball with Yamaha, trying to extract the best possible conditions out of the Japanese factory now that the sales powerhouse Valentino Rossi has left Yamaha to go to Ducati. Rumors of a 14 million euro salary demand are unconfirmed, but with Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica likely to take on sponsorship of the Yamaha squad, Lorenzo might be expected to earn that in sponsorship by allying his selling power to the Telefonica brand.

Ironically, Lorenzo's bargaining position is strengthened by his arch rival Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa has still not renewed his contract with Repsol Honda, with the bone of contention the development efforts to be focused on HRC's RC212V MotoGP bike. Pedrosa's third win of the season - his most ever in a single year - will ease those negotiations, but as long as Pedrosa has not signed, Lorenzo has at least the pretense of an alternative to renew his own contract with Yamaha. The converse is also true, of course: While Lorenzo continues to hold out for a better deal from Yamaha, Pedrosa is also a candidate for that seat, and can use that as a bargaining chip with Honda.

The biggest paradox hangs over Andrea Dovizioso. The current Repsol Honda rider is said to have a clause in his contract guaranteeing another year with the factory team if he was 3rd in the championship after Laguna Seca, a goal he easily achieved, if assisted by Valentino Rossi's crash at Mugello and Casey Stoner's problems with the 2010 Ohlins forks. Dovizioso is certain to continue with Honda, and certain to continue on factory machinery, the only question to be answered is where, and how Dovi is going to be persuaded to accept.

Elsewhere, announcements are rumored to be imminent for Tech 3, with Cal Crutchlow now likely to join Colin Edwards in the team. Crutchlow's arrival has been long-heralded, and is likely to be confirmed at Misano, but the fact that Colin Edwards has decided to remain with Herve Poncharal's team is a little more surprising. Edwards' hand has been forced, as he was being very strongly linked to Ducati's World Superbike factory team, but with the Borgo Panigale factory's folding of its factory effort, that left Edwards with nowhere to go.

Aleix Espargaro now looks likely to retain the Pramac ride, the Spaniard now crashing less than his teammate Mika Kallio, a factor working in his favor, and Kallio is being linked with a Moto2 ride with the Ajo team, who currently field Marc Marquez in the 125cc class. Loris Capirossi is likely to be confirmed at Pramac at Misano, the Italian veteran disillusioned with the shortcomings of Suzuki's racing department rather than the Rizla team. Randy de Puniet is another rider whose contract will probably be renewed at Misano, LCR boss Lucio Cecchinello making no secret of how content he has been with the Frenchman's results.

The current state of play is show below, but you can also find an overview page here. That page will be updated regularly, whenever contracts are confirmed.

Confirmed      
Rider Team Bike Contract Duration
Valentino Rossi Marlboro Ducati Ducati 2011-2012
Nicky Hayden Marlboro Ducati Ducati 2011-2012
Ben Spies Factory Yamaha (Movistar?) Yamaha  2011
Casey Stoner Repsol Honda Honda 2011
Alvaro Bautista Rizla Suzuki Suzuki 2011
Karel Abraham Cardion AB Ducati Ducati 2011
Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda Honda 2011
       
Expected / rumored in descending order of probability Status
Hector Barbera Aspar Ducati Ducati Almost certain
Jorge Lorenzo Factory Yamaha (Movistar?) Yamaha Almost certain
Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Honda Almost certain
Andrea Dovizioso Red Bull Honda / Gresini Honda Honda Definitely at Honda, team uncertain
Randy de Puniet LCR Honda Honda Almost certain
Loris Capirossi Pramac Ducati Ducati Almost certain
Cal Crutchlow Monster Tech 3 Yamaha Yamaha Strong indications
Colin Edwards Monster Tech 3 Yamaha Yamaha Strong indications
Toni Elias Rizla Suzuki Suzuki Strong indications
Hiroshi Aoyama Interwetten / Paddock GP Honda Honda Likely
Aleix Espargaro Pramac Ducati Ducati Likely
       

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Comments

I'm disappointed if Kallio goes to Moto2, but maybe a year there before returning to the 1000cc MotoGP bikes will do good. Maybe a Kallio / Marquez -team?

He's done nothing but crash this year. He's taken a step backwards. You might as well say Kallio is dead last in points. He's only 9 point sup on Aoyoma who has missed plenty of races.

I think Elias could do OK at Suzuki. You never know what a hungry rider can do on an uncompetitive bike (see Espargaro). I think Capirossi is great, but he's wise enough not to risk his life on insane efforts. Bautista is still learning so his performance on the bike is a bit of a black box. While Simoncelli has had a stable Honda to learn on, Alvaro's struggles may be due to the combination of bike and experience. Who knows what Suzuki could come up with while the other factories slow development to get ready for 2012.

The other Silly Season observation I made was that on the LCR team facebook page there were a few comments asking DePuniet to not go to Suzuki. Was there an Italian press article about Randy and Suzuki? I'd think he has a good relationship with Checcinello but you never know!

Yes, there have been several rumours in Italian as well as Spanish media that Suzuki is trying to bait De Puniet with a bigger pay check. If I remember correctly it was a sum around 1,5 million which would be half a million more than what he gets now.

What I don't understand is CE wanting to go to WSB but then staying at Tech3. Why not replace CC on the WSB Yamaha? I know he's not a Yamaha contracted rider but I can't imagine that he would have a hard time getting the seat. Did he really change his mind or did Herve have that hard of a time finding two riders that he pushed for CE to stay? I also wonder if Spies recent form will have an impact on Lorenzo's contract negotiations.

Now that's not an option - so he did an about face.

To My understanding Herve P. really wanted him back for another year... Would love to see the guy win a race before he hangs it up for good. A big fan of his, forsure, the paddock (or press releases) would be a far more boring place without him

I would almost prefer to see Toni stay on the Moto2 bike for another year rather than go to the less-than-competitive Suzuki team. His racing has been great to watch this year and I think he'll just fade away if he gets on the Suzuki just to race in MotoGP. Better to hang on in Moto2 and see what options open up when the rules change for 2012.

Would Toni be considered a Rookie if he comes back to MotoGP? Perhaps, Suzuki is the only way he could get a factory ride if that were the case?

He was in MotoGP for like 5 years.

If a rider competes in more than 9 races in a single season they will not be considered a rookie.

toni has made it clear that he belongs in MotoGP and i'm pretty sure he has said that he would like to be on a factory ride. it is an issue of pride.

i think that even with suzuki's less than stellar (there's the understatement of the year, eh?) performance, the draw of having factory support and feedback is gold to a rider like toni who had never had that opportunity but always felt he deserved it. he's probably very aware of suzuki's shortfalls, but imagine if he could get on the box on what's considered the crapiest bike at the moment... i think it's a gutsy move, frankly.

now if he does win the moto2 WC as looks likely now, he may reconsider staying in the evolving class...

~j

I still dont know why suzuki continues to build a v 4 engine, with no success. clearly suzuki has huge success with there gsxr engine. I cant believe they have been pushing that thing around so many years

You've got almost everyone mentioned except Marco Melandri. There were strong indications that he would be going to BMW superbike team. But with Ducati's factory superbike effort being stopped there are suddenly 2 more high profile riders on the rider market for WSBK teams.

I don't know how this will play out but I think it's going to lead to some riders taking rides under their skill-level just to get on the grid next year.

But I think he'll still be able to swing that deal if their hopes are to bring a machine with him back to MotoGP. While Fabrizio and Haga both have MotoGP experience, I don't think BMW would want them leading their charge back any more than they would Melandri.

Man that's a lotta dough and it seems greedy (though who knows in that situation I would likely do the same?). I am pretty sure he'll back it up with a great performance next year - but it's certainly not a given.

I belive part of Rossi's Irritation was yamaha granting Lorenzo a 1 year deal when they would not even discuss a one year deal with him (boy if the rumors are true of a $14mm demand - I bet yamaha is realllly sorry they agreed to one year deal).

At the end of the day where is he going to go? If I were Yamaha I would walk away with what's on the table ($8mm?) and call his bluff.

Can anyone believe what Toni Elias accomplished at IMS? And THAT was with the flu in unbearable heat! WOW! He has stated he wants to return to MotoGP and has certainly earned that ride. He's one rider that might actually make the Suzuki look good ... and will improve the grid.

Karel Abraham, on the other hand ... zero poles; zero podiums; zero fastest lap ... ZERO in any of the 125; 250 and Moto2 catagories! I guess that is what money and nepotism bring to MotoGP. Abraham will weaken the grid and take a seat away from many deserving riders with proven track records.

He's already had his change in Motogp and he has proven that he can be on the podium. But he has also proven that he is no WC material. This would not be a problem if he was born in Germany, Canada of Russia. Unfortunately for Toni he's Spanish and Spain has more riders than sponsors willing to back them. Likewise Dorna is not interested in backing another Spanish rider on the grid.

As for Abraham, how can he take the seat away from other riders? His father is paying Ducati to build the bike for his son. The bike never existed before Abraham senior waved a bucket full of money in front of Ducati's nose.

Hey Dante ... good points on both riders.

I still think Elias will be hungry and the underdog and will be highly entertaining to watch if he gets the MotoGP ride with the Suzuki factory team.

As for Abraham, I was wrong ... you're right, his Dad is buying the bike not as an investment, but to get his son on the MotoGP grid so it doesn't take a seat away. But my main point was meant to be that MotoGP is the 'premier' class, the 'best of the best' which will now have to have a '*' beside that quote. I think a non-accomplished rider (relative to many others at this point) buying his way onto the grid cheapens the class overall.

Dont' get me wrong ... I have nothing against Abraham and would love to eat my words next year. I just think that MotoGP rides should be earned by the most capable riders. That's what the fans pay to watch.

Thank you, I have to admit I still love to see Elias ride a motorcycle and I kind of hope to see him on the Suzuki next year. He is just to good for Moto2 at the moment and I don't really see a better option for Suzuki.

As for Abraham, did riders like Cardoso, Ellison, Kurtis Roberts and Talmácsi realy deserve a motogp ride? They certainly where not the "Best of the Best", But they didn't put the Motogp to shame. As long as Abraham can qualify to the grid he has the right to be on the Motogp grid. But that's all I'm expecting him to do.

...but relatively untested material has shone in the past.

One Kimi Raikkonen had just 23 open wheel outings before he got into an F1 car. Of course, he had won 13 of those. None at a world championship level - it was Formula Renault. He didn't have any sugar daddy - though Peter Sauber put his reputation on the line backing him. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimi_Räikkönen)

Can Karel do a Kimi? Time will tell. If he doesn't, it will be a bigger disaster for the father-son duo and Karel will emerge as just a rich kid with no ability.

Well, to pick one ... Talmacsi's stats for the 125 class are:
Grand Prix victories 9
2nd Positions 8
3rd Positions 8
Podiums 25
Poles 10
Race fastest lap 9
World Championship wins 1

Which is a huge difference from Abrahams string of zeros in all categories. My guess is, like yours, he'll end QP at the back ... when we need more racing at the front for the sport of MotoGP to regain its lustre.

It sounds appealing but I think there are 2 problems.

1. Which big Spanish companies are left? Telefonica are going to Yamaha, Repsol has a contract with Honda, Banco Satander are pouring milions in Ferrari to pay for Alonso & Kimi's wages. The only big Spanish I can come up with are NH hotels and Zara. You never know but I don't think they are interested.

2. I am not sure if Rizla already has a contract to be the title sponsor for 2011? If so you can say goodbye to any major spanish sponsors. And that's just what Suzuki needs, big companies to pick up the cheque.

Just read this on Matt Roberts (hope it's okay to post?). Last year in GP he got real fast (and dangerous, as I remember) when contract were due and the chips were down.... would like to see him in Moto2 next year also....

On Tony Elias http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/motorsport/motorbikes/8958189.stm

>> It is the latest triumph in the face of adversity for a mercurial rider who seems incapable of succeeding unless the odds are stacked hopelessly against him.

Elias took pole position and finished fourth at the opening round of the season in Qatar, less than two weeks after breaking his hand and foot in a testing crash, and followed up that performance with back-to-back wins in the next two races, in spite of his injuries.

His next victory didn't arrive until Sachsenring in round eight, when he fought back from 11th place on the opening lap, and his fourth win of the season came in the next round at Brno when he was disqualified from first practice for breaking testing restrictions.

If he were as capable of performing that well when the odds are in his favour he would be a world champion already.

As it is, with a 67-point lead at the top of the standings, surely even Elias can't deny himself this one.

If Elias is best when the odds are impossibly stacked against him, then he will win the WC at Suzuki b/c nowhere are things more hopeless than at Suzuki.

Thanks for the link to the article. Here's Stoners comments from that article regarding Abraham. Means more coming from an elite MotoGP rider than my post below ... and makes the point better:

"The Australian also spoke out this weekend about Karel Abraham's step up to MotoGP with a satellite Ducati next season, a move that will be bankrolled by the Czech rider's multi-millionaire father.

Stoner was incensed after his crash
"He is a good guy and he's working hard but he needs to get better results than he is doing now to move up to MotoGP," said the outspoken Stoner.

"If he comes into the class and really proves himself then that's fantastic but he hasn't proven himself enough just yet. There are probably people in national championships who should be with us who just don't get the right opportunities.""

If I were Toni and had the choice I think I'd rather take a satelite ride. Honestly I think Pramac would be his best option. Ducati has been good to their satelites this year and Toni has experience on the Duc (albiet not a very good one). Or a honda satelite. But if Suzuki is all he's got at least we'll get to see him hanging off his bike in the GP again. Can't wait!
P.S. Wouldn't be too disappointed to see him in another year of Moto2 if it made for a better GP ride in 2012.

With Crutchlow coming up - anyone else think that Josh Hayes deserves a shot? I know the series is looking for Americans?!

I would also enjoy nothing more than CEII getting a win in GP before retiring, but I also think that Tech 3 is keeping him around for a tutor to Cal in 2011. He is one of the elder statesman now and can give some guidance to a GP rookie jumping in the deep end with a small amount of large bike world championship cred.

Edit: I now see you were talking about WSBK!

DiSalvo didn't do too bad at all for his outing in Moto2. I remember back at the first (returned) USGP at Laguna Seca in 2005 he was getting quite a bit of attention from Yamaha. Since then has his stock dropped?

Josh Hayes definetly deserves a shot. I think he would be fighting for podiums from the first race.

Do it Yamaha!

then they ALL make too much dough, as do all high profile sports professional. €8m - €14m for Lorenzo - obscene. And don't give me all that risking life and limb stuff. So do club racers on far more dangerous tracks whilst buying their own rubber. More cult of celebrity runaway ego nonsense dictated by greedy agents. Good on Ben for letting his Mum sort the employment agreement.

I too am surprised at Casey on a one year contract. Surely a typo or it's not much of a sign of faith from either party.

COOP. It's the electronics not the engine configuration. Mitsubishi not at the same level as Magneti Marelli.

But the rarity of their skill. And if it's a zero sum game, and they don't get that money, who should get it? Team owners? Should Dorna execs get paid more? It's not the fault of agents. Why would Spies' mom be any different?

***Good on Ben for letting his Mum sort the employment agreement.***

LOL. His Mon got him close to $4 million a year as a rookie. If ben starts pushing Jorge around, you can bet the delicate, gentle, sweet Mary is going to be looking for more. ;-)

Melandri and John Hopkins (remember him?) have suffered real career hits over the last few years. Melandri in particular has gone from a sure-thing MotoGP rider to someone who's conceivably desperate for a ride next season.

Edwards should be very happy to get an offer from Tech 3, assuming he wants to continue. He certainly has not really earned it, especially when you compare his performances to those of Ben Spies (i.e. it cannot really be all due to the machinery).

A one year deal should sit easy with him,subject to results and he is aware of it.Options open for the 2012 rules.
Ducati are the ones that are locked in.Roll the dice and it may be 11 or snake eyes.
My personal take is that they made a huge mistake by signing Rossi and Hayden for 2 years.Yamaha and Honda sit with options on racer's who have not yet peaked in their careers.Who knows what a totally dominant Moto 2 title may do for Toni's future,..be it at Suzuki next year?.
I agree with most poster's that I would love to see him at Pramac.
Whichever way,I for one would love to see him back in GP.
Moto 2 has been a much tougher class this year than GP,so Toni,being currently top of that class will probably be sharper with his re-entry.
Interesting and well fathomed out David.

if jorge is busy adding clauses in his contract that state spies is not to receive parts at the same rate he is. he has to be a little concerned about the talent that will be joining him next year. spies is a damn monster.

If they love the sport as much as they profess they'd be out there proving themselves for a euro just as bad as for a ten million of them. What are we driven by the competition or bank balance bragging rights?

There might be a few more bike on the grid if wage demands were not so extortionate.

Motorcycle racers compete in everything they do. Including the size of the salaries. It's in their nature. The money is meaningless, just being paid more than the others is important. If Jorge Lorenzo earned 10 dollars, Valentino Rossi would want 15, and vice versa. It's not about the absolute numbers, it's about their relative size.

Other than that, you are absolutely right. The salaries of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo combined would but four more riders on the grid. 

Love of the sport and making the most of a situation are not mutually exclusive. If you think Lin Jarvis would put 2 more Yamahas on the grid if he saved salary from Lorenzo and Spies I think you'd be wrong. Ducati will field a bike for anyone with the cash. I don't think Honda wants to add any more bikes to the rear part of the grid and Suzuki doesn't seem to be susceptible to that kind of influence either.

I get the idea that being paid to ride a motorcycle more money in one year than many of us will make in a lifetime of hard work seems obscene. But as long as I can sleep at night knowing some hard working Indonesian Nike factory worker makes 1/100th of what I make in a year I have to accept that someone can make 100 times more than me too.

Bradley Smith for the GS!!!...well?, he's certainly a talent, English (the team is based in England), could probably use a Mil E/yr, and why in hell would he want to go to moto2? That is not GP. That is... I was going to say crap but just saying it's not GP is probably enough of an insult.

It's been said (subjectively) that the GSVR is a POS but the only problem left with the bike is the electronic system. As long as they run Mitsubushi they will have trouble with the bike. They're stubborn so they'll likely stay with Mistu but I'd prefer if they'd go with Magneti like everyone else. If they don't they will continue to lose. It is sad. Sadder yet is the prospect of signing Depuniet. That is downright dismal. If we get his brollie girl then we could stomach it...maybe.

Toni will not develop the GSVR into a generic racer. His arse on the pavement style is just nothing to rally around. God, there are so many guys to choose from...

In a chat with Bradley he mentioned that getting a Moto2 ride would be pretty easy but making sure the team you signed for had a grid slot for 2011 was where the concerns lay!

At least KA went direct to MotoGP (amazing what money will buy you) and thats one less vying for a ride.