Neukirchner Again Linked To Pramac Ducati MotoGP Ride For 2011

With the majority of seats now either taken or at least penciled in, the 2011 MotoGP grid is starting to take shape. And with just 18 seats available - and the risk of fewer seats, if Suzuki field only one rider or the current Interwetten team can't find the funds to field a bike again next season - the make-up of the grid is becoming increasingly important to Dorna. There will once again be at least four Spaniards in the premier class (Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, Hector Barbera and Alvaro Bautista certain of a seat in 2011), and a very good chance of Toni Elias making it five. Add to that three Americans and four Italians, and diversity is far to be found on the MotoGP grid.

British rider Cal Crutchlow will help add to the range of nationalities on the grid in 2011, when he joins the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha squad for next year, but the arrival of a Brit will only compensate for the loss of a Scandinavian, with Finnish rider Mika Kallio expected to be out of a job at the end of the season, and strong rumors from Finland that the former 125 championship runner up is even considering quitting racing altogether. So it is unsurprising that fresh rumors have emerged that German rider Max Neukirchner will be heading to MotoGP next season, to ride a Ducati. For GPOne.com is reporting that Neukirchner has found sufficient sponsorship to secure a seat at the Pramac Ducati squad, replacing Mika Kallio.

Similar rumors had emerged about a month ago, with Neukirchner being linked to a single-rider team with German backing, rumors which Neukirchner subsequently denied. But with Dorna keen to have a German rider back in MotoGP, and only a smaller amount required if Neukirchner is to join the Pramac Ducati squad, these reports could well have some legs.

The wisdom of the move remains to be seen, however. Question marks remain over whether Neukirchner ever fully recovered from the monster crash at Monza last year, as his results have been consistently disappointing since them. Neukirchner was released from his contract by Francis Batta at Alstare Suzuki, and switched to the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda WSBK squad for 2010, where he has been thoroughly beaten by his teammate, Johnny Rea. Added to doubts about his current form are the problems faced by so many World Superbike riders when switching to the MotoGP class, the bikes and tires requiring a completely different style than the production-based superbikes to go fast.

With so few bikes on the MotoGP grid, and so many seats taken by so few nationalities, any riders from outside of the current triumvirate dominating MotoGP is being warmly welcomed by Dorna. And with so few Germans coming through from other classes - Stefan Bradl and Jonas Folger the German riders most likely to succeed coming up through 125s and Moto2, but neither youngster ready for primetime just yet - Neukirchner may be Germany's best hope for MotoGP right at the moment.

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Comments

He was superfast before getting torpedoed at Monza...not sure he will ever regain that form again. I say give him a shot, the Pramac Ducs aren't at the sharp end anyway so whoever takes that ride will be mid pack at best.

Total votes: 109

I don't think Cal Crutchlow has really earned a MotoGP seat, but Max Neukirchner certainly hasn't. This is starting to feel more like the lower echelons of Formula One, where a driver's backing money is more important than his results.

Total votes: 116

Only the aliens and a few others get paid to ride by the factory or team...everyone else has to bring money/sponsors to the table. I think this is a trend that will continue even after the "economic crisis" is offically over...

Total votes: 114

Pretty much all of the MotoGP field have won world championships in lower classes. The very few exceptions still put up very strong fights for world championships - often losing those championships to those who are now in MotoGP with them. There is 1 rider in the entire field who doesn't have such a background.

So, go on, name all the riders who don't deserve to be there - should be easy given your claim.

Total votes: 121

The level of this year's riders in total is unbelievable, excluding the substitute test drivers.

Even the guys at the bottom of the points table have double figures of gp wins and 30 something gp podiums.

Total votes: 114

You are not going to get a field of 18-20 Aliens going hammer and tongs. There never has been. Christ, Ago used to lap the field up to third place. Some of the privateers of the eighties used to get lapped twice. I think we have another golden era right now with the talent we have. O.K 2010 has been lack lustre from a racing perspective but next year we'll have five definite potential race winners and a couple of possible surprises. The depth in the (still too small) field remains deep.

As for Neukirchner. He's like Haga. Just got to find his mojo again. But yeah if he gets a top ten or two he would've done very well. There's always two ends to any field in a race.

Total votes: 116

this rumor should fizzle as Aleix Espargaro supposedly still has one seat and Loris Capirossi has the other..

Third bike?

Total votes: 115

Espargaro is one Spaniard too many, and has crashed too much to keep his job. He's probably gone at the end of the year. 

Total votes: 119

I like Max, but I agree, he has lost his mojo bigtime, its sad that the fastest riders dont always get rides, and its based more on sponsorship deals than talent

the 2 ones that get me mad about this in the past are polar opposites

1: Niall Mackenzie finishing 4th in the 500 championship on the 2nd suzuki after filling in for Kevin Magee , then Didier de Radigues shows up with a suitcase full of cash, and Niall gets dropped , quick, name a 2nd suzuki rider that was any good?

2: I dont recall the exact details, but Honda didnt want Rossi to ride their 500 , but didnt Nastro azurro chip in to help him get the 500 ride, and he finished second in the championship and the rest is history, Honda didnt care about his skill, but once the cash flowed .........

A similar deal is from last year, Suzuki made the brilliant move of signing Capirossi over Spies , who then took out his anger on teh poor WSBK gang, and next year he will be one of the aliens!

Total votes: 115

Why would the Germans be interested in watching a guy battle for 18th? They wouldn't be and neither would anyone else. Dorna thinks people are stupid.

MotoGP doesn't need a barely competent WSBK riders. Really, who gets fired from WSBK for poor results and gets a MotoGP ride? How ass backwards is that?

I'm 100% against adding backmarkers just to say "wow MotoGP has 20 something riders!". I would rather have "deserving riders" instead guys given a seat because of where they were born. They are deserving guys in WSBK (like Haslam or Rea) but Max N isn't one of them.

Total votes: 115

Dorna don't think fans are stupid, they think the TV companies and the sponsors are stupid. Both have showed a willingness to pay a premium for hegemony and Dorna wants to sock it to them for every penny regardless of how undeserving a rider may be.

This is part of Suppo's raising revenue plan. Actually, I don't wish to sully Suppo with this ignoble crap, but he is THE guy who keeps saying that MotoGP should be inventing new ways to earn revenue.

Hmmmm?.......let's focus on cost-cutting and the quality of the show. Revenue generally takes care of itself when you have a decent product and a decent marketing plan. You don't have to get silly with it.

Total votes: 114

... Max can battle with Karel Abraham who's Dad bought his way onto the grid ... he DEFINITELY hasn't earned the privilege of riding in the premier class!

Total votes: 112

Slightly off topic but what's going on with Dovizioso? Still Honda and additional unknown sponsor?

Total votes: 122

As a Canadian I feel we are under-represented on the MotoGP Grid as well. As such I am willing to consider applying my trade to Dorna in exchange for £11.379341 Million Pounds Sterling/race, 2 Large Breasted women (Mid-20's Blonde and Red Head would suffice). And a jar of Vegimite.

Please contact my agent for all future inquires....

Total votes: 116

You made a mistake there fellow Canadian

you forgot a pool of baby oil and I recommend a jar of Marmite instead, its a lot tastier than vegemite

Total votes: 105

I don't blame MotoGP for attempting to get participation from more countries. It is good for the show.

Neukirchner definetly has talent and we don't know his status healthwise. I for one would love to see him get a good ride and show his skills against the big boys. He may not be the most deserving rider at the moment but under the right environment and if he is mentally and physically healthy he should do well.

I hope this rumor is true and if so - welcome to the circus Max!

Total votes: 111

If true, I hope Espargaro and Kallio can score good Moto 2 rides at least. I don't think they are any less deserving of the Pramac seats than Capirossi and Neukirchner.

Neither Loris nor Max have been very convincing this season, can't see Pramac going much forward unless Rossi & Burgess can transform the Ducati to a new M1.

Total votes: 121

I would think DORNA is trying to ensure the financial future of Moto GP by diversifying it's rider line up to offer more reason for new sponsorship money to come into Moto GP.

The Spanish money has pretty much been used up, the Italian money is drying up, and new money must be sought.

Look ahead and you see plans to potentially include an Indian circuit, which WILL see an Indian rider at some point, and subsequently Indian Money.

Cal Crutchlow has been given the chance because DORNA has a contract with the BBC, and the BBC want some return for their investment. So I would think that by trying to bring Max in, they would also be wanting to bring in a new German sponsor, or sure up German broadcasting for the next 5 years.

The days of a rider getting the ride purely on RIDING talent alone are gone. The modern rider needs to be media savvy, have good management and have masses of financial backing. Of course there will always be anomalies like Ben Spies and Casey Stoner, but for the majority they will need all of what I previously mentioned......like say, Pedrosa.

The other more far-sighted view that I believe is happening, is that this is also to encourage new manufacturers. BMW anyone??? And with India, TaTa tried to buy who???

I wouldn't be surprised if China makes a comeback to the calander in 2012/13 and you see a chinese rider/ manufactuer.

Total votes: 117

Kallio is thinking of retiring?! wow, thats more interesting to me than Neukirchner possibly going to MotoGP. I always liked him in his 125 and 250 days, hopefully he will move down to Moto2 and do well.

Total votes: 117

I could see him as a team manager someday. Word is he's brighter than your average throttle jockey. So if he's not burned out on the side show, maybe he'll find a way to apply all his skills. I'd like to see him battling for positions again so hopefully he'll give Moto2 a shot.

Total votes: 126

Who has a better chance of doing well?

A top 50 rider with the best support available or a top 20 rider with the weakest support in the field?

Total votes: 117

Max N was quick when he first arrived in SBK (07? 06 even?), on a honda for the then pretty b-grade Stiggy team IIRC. At least one podium on an unfancied bike, he was generally punching a bit above his weight. Then he had a huge highside (I think at Valencia?) which broke some bones and his mojo for a good while.

While his recent results certainly don't justify a MotoGP ride, I think he showed some pretty good speed when things were going his way. Hopefully he has a similar return to form as he did prior to the Monza crash, in which he was blameless.

Or of course, we could have another perennial backmarker. ;-)

Total votes: 110

I really hope this isn't the case. I love Espargaro (just like I love Elias I suppose) I think he has so much potential. He was excellent as a wild card last year and I think he could do really well next season. It will be a shame if Pramac cut their losses with him. I think he can do it he just needs one more season. No disrespect to Cappirex but his season has been awful, HE should switch to SBK. Aleix should have his seat next year.

Total votes: 117

Espargaro is my little darling in the MotoGP class: I love watching the kid ride, even if he's not going to be winning any races. His smile, like the late Tomizawa's, is brilliantly infectious, and you can see when he rides that he has boatloads of passion.

Of course, most everyone in the premier class has tons of passion, too, and if they gave out rides to everyone's favorite (or second, or third) rider, well... it'd certainly fill up the grid right quick, but it's just not going to happen.

Still. I do hope Espargaro gets another year. Kid's got soul.

Total votes: 114

during the motogp qp at motegi gavin emmett stated that when asked about any deal, max categorically denied talking to pramac or any other motogp team seriously.

which of course means the ink is drying on the contract, hehe

Total votes: 119