Xavier Simeon has had a wild ride in Moto2 so far. The 21-year-old Belgian spent the 2010 season as a substitute rider for the HolidayGym team, replacing both Fonsi Nieto and Yannick Guerra when they were injured. Those replacement rides turned out very well indeed: Simeon had a couple of very impressive outings on the Moriwaki, scoring an 8th place at Silverstone, and a couple more points at the end of the season. His results secured him a contract with HolidayGym for the 2011 season, but that deal fell through when HolidayGym was only given a single seat, and decided to pull out altogether. Simeon was without a ride once more.
But no longer: Today, the Tech 3 team announced that they had signed a deal with Belgian TV channel RTL Sport to run Simeon aboard one of their Mistral M610 Moto2 machines. Under the agreement, Simeon will run in a separate structure, under the auspices of the Tech 3 squad: in effect, the RTL Sport team will be a satellite team of the main Tech 3 squad. RTL Sport will manage the team, and have stepped up to finance the team along with the Belgian Mettet circuit, home of the annual Mettet Superbikers event, an event which sees top class riders from all disciplines pitted against one another in a Supermoto race.
The logic behind the deal is self-evident: RTL Sport has the rights to broadcast the MotoGP season, secured in part on the basis that Simeon would be racing in Moto2. Once Simeon's original deal with HolidayGym fell through, it made sense for RTL Sport to take over funding of Simeon's team, to ensure that they still had a Belgian angle to sell to their home audience. Having the Mettet circuit join in helped put the final pieces in place, and teaming up with Herve Poncharal's Tech 3 squad makes communication inside the Francophone team much simpler.
An interesting contrast could be made with the threatened withdrawal of the Molenaar team from the 125cc class we wrote about yesterday. There, the lack of a TV deal in the Molenaar team's home Dutch market meant that several key sponsors pulled out, leaving Dutchman Jasper Iwema and Spaniard Luis Salom without a ride for 2011. In the case of Simeon, a deal which had already been signed with a TV company saw the same TV company step forward to save the only Belgian national in the Moto2 class. If a Dutch TV deal had been signed, perhaps the Molenaar team could have turned to the broadcaster and got them involved in the team. In smaller markets, TV deals are still crucial.
(Thanks to JM Lederman for help with background and translation on this story. You can find out more about him here.)