Though most of the contracts were settled some time ago, there were still a few question marks on the 2014 MotoGP grid. The official entry list released by the FIM today answers some of those questions, but the answers it gives may yet turn out to be wrong. The list features 11 entries to be run under the Factory rules, which means 20 liters of fuel, 5 engines per season and the freedom to use proprietary software on the spec Magneti Marelli ECU. The remaining 13 bikes will be run as Open entries, which gives them 24 liters of fuel and 12 engines per season, but forces them to use the Dorna-controlled spec software on the Magneti Marelli ECU.
The 2014 season looks set to follow the pattern established in 2013, with Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo likely to dominate. Of interest is the fact that Marc Marquez has been entered with number 93, rather than the number 1 which the world champion is allowed to use, but this may yet change before the start of the season. Marquez would dearly like to retain 93, but Honda is keen to see him run the number 1 plate.
Whether Valentino Rossi can challenge the leaders again will depend in part on how he meshes with his new crew chief Silvano Galbusera, and on whether Yamaha can improve the braking stability of the bike. Rossi will also fear the reduction in fuel, as Yamaha were already struggling to make the bike last the race on 21 liters.
Much attention will be focused on the newcomers, with Pol Espargaro and Scott Redding both stepping up from Moto2. Espargaro made an impressive debut at the Valencia test, ending the three days a second and a quarter behind Marc Marquez, and not far off the times of Valentino Rossi and Alvaro Bautista.
Among the Open entries, all eyes will be on the battle between the Honda RCV1000R production racer and the Yamaha FTR open class entry. Nicky Hayden and Aleix Espargaro will be the benchmarks, with the first meeting going to Aleix on the Yamaha. The 2013 M1 is already a strong package, and the Valencia test showed that the spec software did not appear to slow the bike down too much. The RCV1000R looks to be slower than expected, suffering most of all from the lower revs the engine runs. Top speed figures showed that the Honda was over 10 km/h down on the factory bikes, where the difference with the Yamaha was negligible.
The provisional entry lists are still a long way from being final. Although Niccolo Canepa appears on the list as riding for Ioda Racing, Canepa has already told GPOne.com that he will not be racing in MotoGP next season, and Ioda issued a press release saying that no agreement had been reached with Canepa, and the search for a second rider continues. The provisional list shows Ioda's choice of machinery as to be announced, but the choices are between the Aprilia ART and Ducati Open projects. The final choice will depend on the financial package available, with Ioda one of the poorer teams in the paddock. If an agreement cannot be found, Ioda can always race the Suter BMWs they already own, though the bike has had no development this year.
The PBM team is also listed as participating, but Paul Bird is believed to be holding off on entering depending on support. PBM, like Ioda, are fishing for stronger support from Aprilia in a bid to make themselves more competitive. This has become a financial necessity, as Dorna will now only be offering the top 22 riders financial support, leaving the weakest team without support. The idea is to send weaker teams back to Moto2 at the end of each season, and tempt the strongest Moto2 teams into stepping up into MotoGP. On the basis of results from 2013, PBM and Ioda are the teams in the danger zone.
Looking at when rider contracts run out, it is clear that 2014 will be a crucial season for everyone. 16 riders have their contracts up for renewal at the end of the season, including both factory Yamaha and both factory Honda men. The summer is likely to be a very busy period for riders and managers, as they look towards their options for 2015.
The provisional 2014 MotoGP entry list:
|46||Valentino Rossi||ITA||Yamaha M1||Factory||2014|
|99||Jorge Lorenzo||SPA||Yamaha M1||Factory||2014|
|26||Dani Pedrosa||SPA||Honda RC213V||Factory||2014|
|93||Marc Marquez||SPA||Honda RC213V||Factory||2014|
|4||Andrea Dovizioso||ITA||Ducati GP14||Factory||2014|
|35||Cal Crutchlow||GBR||Ducati GP14||Factory||2015|
|Tech 3 Yamaha|
|38||Bradley Smith||GBR||Yamaha M1||Factory||2014|
|44||Pol Espargaro||SPA||Yamaha M1||Factory||2015|
|6||Stefan Bradl||GER||Honda RC213V||Factory||2014|
|19||Alvaro Bautista||SPA||Honda RC213V||Factory||2014|
|45||Scott Redding||GBR||Honda RCV1000R||Open||2015|
|5||Colin Edwards||USA||FTR Yamaha M1||Open||2014|
|41||Aleix Espargaro||SPA||FTR Yamaha M1||Open||2015|
|29||Andrea Iannone||ITA||Ducati GP14||Factory||2014|
|68||Yonny Hernandez||COL||Ducati GP13||Open||2014|
|17||Karel Abraham||CZE||Honda RCV1000R||Open||2014|
|To be confirmed||PBM/ART||Open||2014|
|9||Danilo Petrucci||ITA||Aprilia ART/Ducati||Open|
|59||Niccolo Canepa||ITA||Aprilia ART/Ducati||Open|
|7||Hiroshi Aoyama||JPN||Honda RCV1000R||Open||2014|
|69||Nicky Hayden||USA||Honda RCV1000R||Open||2014|
|8||Hector Barbera||SPA||FTR Kawasaki||Open||2015|
|63||Mike Di Meglio||FRA||FTR Kawasaki||Open||2014|