As expected, Tito Rabat has confirmed he will stay with the Marc VDS Racing team for 2015, and spend another year in Moto2. The Spaniard had an option in his contract which would allow him to leave for a MotoGP team if he were to win the Moto2 title and he had an offer from a factory team. With few factory option bikes on offer next year, and with the MotoGP rules set to change in 2016, Rabat elected to stay in Moto2 for another year, and if he wins the title, become the first ever Moto2 champion to defend his crown.
The announcement also confirms Marc VDS' intention to remain in Moto2 and not move up to MotoGP, as we have been reporting for some time. The deadline for the team to make a decision to move up to MotoGP was at Assen, with chassis builder Kalex needing confirmation from either Marc VDS or Pons before they could start to go ahead and build chassis for the Yamaha engines available for lease. With the introduction of a single set of electronics, and Michelin replacing Bridgestone, moving up to MotoGP in 2015 was a risk. Waiting for a year will allow teams such as Marc VDS to judge which is the most competitive package, and which manufacturer appears to be adapting to the new tires best.
With Rabat confirmed, the next step is to wait for who will join him in the team. Despite the fact that he is currently second in the championship and challenging his teammate for the title, Mika Kallio looks set to lose his ride in favor of a youngster coming up from Moto3. Or possibly even two youngsters, with both current Estrella Galicia riders Alex Marquez and Alex Rins being linked to the ride. Marc VDS also has Jack Miller under contract, but the contract dispute between Marc VDS and Miller's manager Aki Ajo has soured relations between the two parties. Miller is still being linked to a ride in MotoGP with LCR Honda, but he could also move up to the Pons Moto2 team, where he could replace another Ajo protege Maverick Viñales.
The press release announcing Rabat's contract appears below"
Rabat confirmed at Marc VDS for 2015 season
Gosselies, Belgium – 17 July 2014: The Marc VDS Racing Team is pleased to announce that Tito Rabat will remain with the team for the 2015 season.
Rabat, who is currently leading the Moto2 World Championship, having won four of the nine races so far, had an option in his contract that would see him released from the team to make the move up to MotoGP should he be crowned World Champion this season.
The 25-year-old Spaniard has decided against exercising this option and, instead, has committed himself to a second season in Moto2 with the Marc VDS Racing Team.
Should Rabat achieve his goal and win the championship this season, 2015 will be the first time the reigning Moto2 World Champion has returned to defend the title since the intermediate class switched from 250cc two-strokes to 600cc four-strokes in 2010.
“I’m happy to stay with Marc VDS in 2015 for a number of reasons, but the main one is because they are as committed to winning races as I am. I have a good team of people around me and they ensure I have everything I need to win, so why would I go anywhere else? Now everything is sorted we can focus on doing what we set out to do at the beginning of the season, which is to win races and the championship. Nobody has ever won the Moto2 World Championship and then returned the following year to defend the title, so I hope I will be the first.”
Michael Bartholemy // Team Principal
“Obviously I’m pleased that Tito will remain with the Marc VDS Racing Team next year, as I know he’s had quite a few offers to make the step up to MotoGP next season. That he’s made the decision to remain with the team now, rather than waiting, also shows just how committed he is to the job at hand. With the decision about his future made, he can focus completely on his main goal for this season; winning his and the team’s first ever World Championship title.”
Marc van der Straten // President, Marc VDS Racing Team
“When you have a rider in your team that isn’t just leading the championship but pretty much dominating it, then you know that MotoGP teams are going to be knocking on his door, and that’s exactly what’s happened with Tito this season. But, despite the offers, he’s made the decision to remain with the Marc VDS Racing Team for another season and I’m proud that he feels his future lies with us.”