The withdrawal of the Interwetten Honda team from MotoGP has been an open secret for some time now, after title sponsor Interwetten decided against renewing funding for the MotoGP team again next year. Team boss Daniel Epp had been holding off on an official announcement until all of his options to replace Interwetten had been exhausted. That happened a few weeks ago, and now, the Interwetten team has officially announced the demise of the team.
The disbanding of the Interwetten team leaves former 250cc World Champion Hiroshi Aoyama without a ride, but that situation is unlikely to last for long. Aoyama is currently being linked to the second Gresini Honda ride, alongside Marco Simoncelli, but team boss Fausto Gresini has been reluctant to sign the Japanese rider, citing a lack of money to run a second team. Gresini has been hoping that Dorna and HRC will stump up the cash to pay for Aoyama's seat in the Gresini garage, as both the TV rights holders and Honda are keen to have a Japanese rider in the series. Gresini argues that an Italian rider would be much easier to find sponsorship for.
Should the Gresini deal fall through for Aoyama, the Japanese rider still has options in Moto2, where his name has been linked with a couple of teams. As both Julian Simon and Toni Elias have proved in the past, dropping back a class, from 250s to 125s in the case of Simon, and MotoGP to Moto2 for Elias, can prove to be a strategically sensible move.
Below is the text of the press release announcing the Interwetten team's final round in MotoGP:
INTERWETTEN HONDA MotoGP TEAM: Final Grand Prix in Valencia
In just one week time the last round of the MotoGP world championship 2010 will take place on the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia / Spain. Hiroshi Aoyama and the Interwetten Honda MotoGP Team hope for a better result than in Estoril last weekend, where Aoyama showed a strong performance in the middle of the race, but because of a small mistake while he was in 10th position, he could not finish higher than 12th.
The race in Valencia will not only be the last race of the season 2010, the curtain will also fall for the Interwetten Honda MotoGP Team as Valencia will be their last race. Aoyama will announce the team he will be signing the contract with for 2011 in Valencia and Daniel M. Epp, the team manager and owner, will concentrate on his work with Tom Lüthi in the Moto2 class in 2011 and on the preparation of new projects and a return to the MotoGP class in 2012.
The Interwetten Honda MotoGP Team wants to thank all their sponsors, fans and friends who believed in the project for their support and cooperation.
Hiroshi Aoyama about the circuit in Valencia:
"Sometimes I have a good feeling with Valencia and sometimes I don't. I hope that this time the feeling will be good. Last year I achieved the 250cc world title there and I have some nice memories on that, but you cannot compare this. I hope that the coming race will be better than the one in Estoril, where I could have finished in the Top 10, but made a mistake and had to be satisfied with 12th at the end. It is a pity that the team cannot continue. I had a really good time with them and I want to thank the team for all they did for me."