Another piece of the MotoGP Silly Season has just fallen into place, and once again, it's hardly earth-shattering news. Honda have just announced that Dani Pedrosa has signed a new two-year deal with HRC, and will be a factory Honda rider for 2011 and 2012.
The move had been expected for a while, as Pedrosa and HRC had been closing in on a deal for the past couple of months. Pedrosa's outstanding results since Laguna have helped the Spaniard's cause immensely, especially breaking through his own personal barrier of winning more than 2 races in a season.
Pedrosa's signing leaves two questions unanswered, or rather, leaves them half-answered. The first of those questions is the matter of sponsorship, with Repsol's contract with Honda coming to an end after the 2010 season is over. Repsol are widely expected to sign up for another year, something that Pedrosa's renewal with HRC makes significantly more likely. But Repsol have remained ambivalent about their involvement with Honda over the past couple of years, signing up for a one-year deal for the 2010 season. The length of the contract for 2011 will give a better insight into their intentions for the future.
Both Repsol and Dani Pedrosa are key features in the other open question. With both Pedrosa and Casey Stoner signed up for Honda's factory squad, that garage would appear to be full. The question of where Andrea Dovizoso goes has now become acute. Dovizioso is believed to have a results-based clause in his contract guaranteeing a factory Honda ride for 2011, and paddock rumors insist that the Italian has fulfilled the criteria which would invoke the automatic contract extension.
However, with no room at the factory Honda squad, and sponsors unwilling to find a compromise to allow the factory team to run three bikes instead of just two, Dovizioso could be forced into the Gresini team with promises of full factory support. That has not gone well in the past, if Toni Elias and Marco Melandri are to be believed, but with Casey Stoner thought to be bringing a large part of his crew to Honda, Dovizioso could conceivably take his own group with him to Gresini, which might make the situation more palatable to the Italian.
Below is the press release announcing Pedrosa's signing:
HRC ANNOUNCES NEW DEAL WITH PEDROSA
Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) is pleased to announce that Dani Pedrosa will once again be a factory Honda rider in MotoGP for 2011 and 2012. The two-year deal extends Pedrosa's career-long relationship with Honda which has brought three world championships, 35 Grand Prix victories in all classes and 12 MotoGP wins - including victories at the last two races. Recent results show that Pedrosa and the Honda RC212V have evolved into one of the strongest combinations in MotoGP, and it is a partnership that both parties are determined will grow even stronger for the next two seasons.
Tetsuo Suzuki, HRC President: "We are very pleased that Dani Pedrosa has re-signed to be a factory Honda rider, thus extending his longstanding and successful partnership with HRC. Dani is clearly at the peak of his powers and has gelled with the RC212V to create a formidable combination. We believe his relationship with the machine and the team will continue to grow and that he will mount an extremely strong challenge for the MotoGP World title over the next two seasons."
Dani Pedrosa: "I'm really happy to be signing with Honda again. This has been the team of my dreams since I was a kid and that's still the same feeling I have now. We've had a long and successful relationship already and we believe together we can have even more success in the future. Over many years we have built up a very strong relationship and have enjoyed the successes and faced the difficulties together. We are at a good moment now and we must try to continue in this way. Our goal of course is to fight for victories every weekend and win the MotoGP world championship. I believe we have what it takes to do both of those things."