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.
|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|