It's over. At a press conference in Budapest today, Gabor Talmacsi and Jorge Martinez, head of the Aspar team, announced that they had failed to reach an agreement over the media rights which had caused the split between the two parties in the first place. As a consequence, Talmacsi's split with the Aspar team was now permanent, and the Hungarian star would not be riding for the Aspar-run Balatonring team for the remainder of the years.
The press conference, a tense if respectful affair, was held after Talmacsi and Martinez had met to try and find a resolution for their differences. The sticking point remained the matter of media rights, a very important factor for Talmacsi, as the former 125 World Champion is one of Hungary's biggest sports stars, and a substantial source of income for him. Neither Talmacsi nor Martinez were prepared to go into detail about the exact nature of their dispute.
Both men emphasized that the break up had been relatively harmonious. Jorge Martinez praised Talmacsi's professionalism, saying "Our relationship with Gabor has been excellent, both personally and professionally. But for sure, I'm very sad about this." Martinez also stated that the Balatonring project would continue, and that it will continue with a Hungarian rider.
Just who that will be is a cause for feverish speculation in Hungary. The two hottest properties among Hungary's many up-and-coming riders are 2007 European 125 Champion Alen Györfi and former Red Bull Rookie Péter Sebestyén. Both men are tipped for big things in the future, but both men are also under contract with Faster Management, the company run by Stefano Favaro, who represents Gabor Talmacsi. With Martinez having earlier explicitly named Favaro as an obstacle to reaching a deal with Talmacsi, the chances of Favaro and Martinez agreeing terms on these two youngsters seems remote. The Hungarian website motorinfo.hu contacted Györfi about the Aspar situation, and Györfi denied having been approached by Martinez.
Another name doing the rounds is Gábor Rizmayer, who rode in the 250 class as a wildcard back in 2001, and has since ridden in the AMA Superbike series with the Safety First team and in the German IDM Superbike series. Rizmayer is currently under contract in Germany, and having spent so much time racing big four strokes may struggle to be competitive aboard a 250cc two stroke.
But the most likely replacement is Imre Toth. Toth is already in the paddock, riding for his father's Team Toth. What's more, at Le Mans, Jorge Martinez and Stefano Favaro were spotted on Saturday night deep in discussion in the Team Toth hospitality unit. At the time, it was thought that the subject under discussion was Mattia Pasini, the Italian star currently riding for the team who has voiced his dissatisfaction with the team on a number of occasions this year. But it is quite possible that the talks were about Imre Toth, and a switch from Team Toth to the Balatonring team.
As for Talmacsi, the former 125 champion's future is a lot less certain. Talmacsi himself said that "I stop riding now, which means I won't be seen on TV." The reference to being seen on TV was rather puzzling, as under normal circumstances, not having a ride would be a higher priority than appearing on TV. Any ride with another team for the Hungarian will require the approval and the signature of Jorge Martinez, though Martinez indicated that he would try to oblige where he could.
Most of the speculation so far for Talmacsi has centered around a move to either MotoGP or World Superbikes. Stefano Favaro has been seen speaking to Cirano Mularoni, the owner of Team Scot Honda, who Talmacsi rode for in 2006. Paddock rumors suggest that Talmacsi would be given Yuki Takahashi's spare bike, turning the one-man team into a two-man team, bringing much-needed cash into the team, and also allowing Dorna to test out the one-bike-per-rider rule which is currently under discussion for 2010. Such a move would require the blessing of both the IRTA teams association and Jorge Martinez, and the Spaniard may not be well-disposed to seeing Talmacsi promoted to MotoGP.
Perhaps a more likely scenario could see Talmacsi switch codes and move to World Superbikes. The speculation in Hungary is that Talma could end up riding a Ducati in the series, and as the series has a number of cash-strapped teams with injured or underperforming riders, this is a highly plausible suggestion, and a move Jorge Martinez is likely to look much more favorably upon.
Thanks once again to friend of MotoGPMatters.com, and Hungarian TV journalist Adam Haraszti for his help with this story.