MotoGPMatters.com will be keeping track of the state of the silly season on this page, noting and updating rider contracts as and when they are finalized, and filling in the gaps where possible. Check back here regularly to keep up to date with the state of the teams and riders for 2010.
Rider names in bold are contracts which have been confirmed, rider names in italics are either strong, verified rumors or riders with options.
|Fiat Yamaha||Simultaneously the most desirable and the least desirable team on the grid. The Yamaha M1 is clearly the best bike of the lot in the 2009 season, and looking to continue so for next year. But anyone signing for the factory Yamaha team gets to share a garage with Valentino Rossi, and is assured of their status as the second rider of the team.|
|Valentino Rossi||2010||Rossi has a contract until the end of 2010, after which he will decide on whether to stay racing for a couple more years, or retire and go to race in the World Rally Championship, depending on his standing in the record books. The fans and the promotors would love Rossi to stay. The riders would probably prefer him to leave.
Rossi may possibly switch manufacturers at the end of his contract, as Lorenzo's one year deal with Yamaha annoyed him immensely. Yamaha had never offered him a one year contract, and Rossi made his disappointment very public. Whether he will go or not is a different question.
|Jorge Lorenzo||2010||After a brief flirtation with Honda, and an intense period after Brno, where Lorenzo was offered a huge amount of money to go to Ducati, Lorenzo finally signed on the dotted line for Yamaha on the Monday before the Indianapolis GP. He did so after receiving commitments about equal treatment, and he only signed for a year. The whole circus is likely to start up again in July of 2010.|
|Marlboro Ducati||The factory Ducati team is in a pickle. The bike is clearly fast - Casey Stoner has amply demonstrated that - but also nigh on impossible to ride - Nicky Hayden, Toni Elias, Marco Melandri and a cast of thousands have also confirmed this again and again. Ducati needs a backup plan for if Stoner decides to leave. Hayden's improvement (and podium at Indianpolis) saved his place at the factory, and gave hope to the hordes of dedicated Ducatisti that support the factory. However, the fact that both Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa turned Ducati down does not bode well for the Bologna factory's ability to sign top talent. With the possible exception of an Italian from Tavullia.|
Casey Stoner is still angry at both Honda and Yamaha for having denied him a factory ride at the end of the 2006 season, and that has been the saving of Ducati. Stoner will be staying at Ducati for another year, but keeping his options open after that. His biggest concern is his health, with his fractured scaphoid still not healing properly, and the illness he believes is probably down to lactose intolerance. After skipping three races from Brno to Misano, Stoner made a remarkable return at Estoril, finishing second, then going on to win the next two races at Phillip Island and Sepang. He remains incredibly fast, if still somewhat mercurial.
|Nicky Hayden||2010||Nicky Hayden has slowly be getting better on the Ducati, but only very slowly. The American had an option with Ducati for 2010, but it was up to Ducati to exercise it. Hayden wanted to stay, and after Dani Pedrosa reportedly turned down the ride at Ducati, the Bologna factory jumped on Hayden, especially after his podium at Indianapolis. With another year on the Ducati, we might start to see whether Hayden can close the gap to the Fantastic Four.|
|Repsol Honda||The Repsol Honda team is the other prime destination for ambitious young riders. After two and a half years of struggling, the Honda RC212V is finally starting to come good, and should be competitive for 2011. It had better be: Dani Pedrosa only signed a new contract with Honda because there was no room at Yamaha, and has issued HRC with a warning: If he doesn't get a better bike, 2010 could be his last year at Honda.|
|Dani Pedrosa||2010||At Brno, HRC President Tetsuo Suzuki announced that the factory Honda team had reached a "basic agreement" with its current two riders. This was immediately denied by Alberto Puig and Dani Pedrosa, but after Nicky Hayden signed with Ducati, Pedrosa had nowhere left to go. However, it is not beyond the bounds of reason that the reason that Ducati signed Hayden was because Pedrosa had already turned them down and renewed with Honda.
At Misano, HRC finalized the deal, but the two year deals were gone, and Pedrosa put Honda on probation: he had signed a one year deal with HRC to give them a chance to provide a competitive bike. He added that he had only signed with Honda once the doors at Yamaha had been closed.
|Andrea Dovizioso||2010, option for 2011||Dovi's win at Donington did his prospects a world of good, and he has apparently been rewarded with a new two-year deal.|
|Rizla Suzuki||The Suzuki GSV-R continues to struggle to be competitive, despite dire warnings from both Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen. The lack of results means that questions remain over Suzuki's commitment to the series. The factory nearly pulled out at the end of the 2008 season, and could still decide to do so before the 2010 season begins. At least they have immunity from the Rookie Rule, which allowed them to sign a rising young star straight from the 250cc class Alvaro Bautisa.|
|Loris Capirossi||2010||After obtaining guarantees that the bike will get more development for 2010, Capirex bit the bullet and announced he would be staying with Suzuki at Indianapolis.|
|Alvaro Bautista||2011||Finally announced officially at Brno after the race. Bautista declined to move up to MotoGP with Aspar, preferring instead to go straight to a factory ride, instead of taking a satellite ride on the promise of promotion to the factory team in 2011. Whether Bautista can do better than Chris Vermeulen on perhaps the weakest bike on the grid remains to be seen|
Jorge 'Aspar' Martinez has been given Sete Gibernau's old bike, after his GFH team pulled out halfway through the season. The Aspar team is a top-flight operation, but they have a problem: They will be running a Ducati, and the Desmosedici is a far from attractive prospect for young riders. As expected, Aspar signed a Spanish - actually, a Valencian - rider in Hector Barbera, just as his sponsors required.
|Hector Barbera||2010||Hector Barbera signed for Aspar at Brno, after Alvaro Bautista went to Suzuki. Barbera was telling anyone at Brno who would listen that he would be riding the Aspar bike, but curiously, Aspar until a few days after Brno to make the official announcement. Barbera was clearly second choice, but was surprisingly quick in testing. He could be a dark horse in 2010.|
The Gresini team used to be the very best of the satellite squads, but the withdrawal of Telefonica sponsorship and the failure of the Honda RC212V have hit the team hard. It is still among the best, and with one factory-spec bike on offer, an attractive prospect.
|Marco Simoncelli||2010, option with HRC for 2011||Marco Simoncelli was the first of the signings to be announced officially as early as the end of June at Assen. The young Italian was keenly pursued by a number of teams and factories, including Aprilia, who wanted him in World Superbikes. But Simoncelli, who is both highly talented and highly marketable, settled instead for a deal with HRC, which will see him join the Gresini Honda squad in 2010, with options for a factory seat in 2011.
At Brno, HRC President Tetsuo Suzuki denied that Simoncelli had a contract with HRC, stating that his contract was directly with Gresini. Whether Marco Simoncelli sees it that way is a different matter
|Marco Melandri||2010||As widely expected, Marco Melandri finally announced he would be joining the Gresini Honda team at Brno. He had been linked with the squad since Simoncelli signed his contract at Assen, but had denied a deal was on the cards. It was, as ever, a smokescreen.
Melandri will have the Gresini team's factory-spec Honda RC212V, though Simoncelli's bike is supposed to be very close to the factory spec anyway. His awful year at Ducati, and then at Hayate / Kawasaki have matured Melandri a lot. He now has the mental toughness to compete, as well as the physical talent. If Honda get it right - which is likely - Melandri could be in with a shout of the title next year.
Lucio Cecchinello continues to punch above his weight with his team funded using a clever mixture of sponsors and running a rider spotted using the Italian's excellent nose for talent. In the end, Cecchinello's ability to secure better equipment ensured that Randy de Puniet stayed, closing a door for a cast of hopefuls - especially Chris Vermeulen and James Toseland. However, rumors that LCR will field not one, but two bikes in 2010 rumbled on for a long while, before eventually petering out. HRC still has one RC212V available for the team with the right combination of funds and infrastructure, and LCR remains a strong candidate. But every day that passes lessens the chances that this will actually happen.
|Randy de Puniet||2010||With a podium at Donington topping a string of strong results, now that the Bridgestones prevent the Frenchman from finding himself picking gravel out of his leathers Randy de Puniet finds himself in demand. His own demands centered around obtaining competitive equipment, and Lucio Cecchinello has reportedly taken advantage of HRC's offer to lease bikes close to factory spec.|
|Pramac Ducati||The Pramac Ducati team continues to function as Ducati's Junior team, the place the Bologna factory puts young riders to test their ability to ride the Desmosedici. The Finnish rookie Mika Kallio has done very well so far, despite being rather erratic, and will keep his place. His 2009 team mate Niccolo Canepa, on the other hand, has struggled with being in MotoGP, despite the occasional decent result, and is off to Moto2 in 2010. The Spaniard Aleix Espargaro, who subbed for Kallio at Indianapolis, Misano, Sepang and Valencia thoroughly impressed team boss Paolo Campinotti, and won the seat for 2010.|
After a strong, if rather variable rookie season, Kallio has been confirmed as staying at the Pramac team for next season. He has scored some strong results, and has received compliments from Ducati's MotoGP boss Livio Suppo.
|Aleix Espargaro||2010||Aleix Espargaro had a genuine rollercoaster of a season in 2009. Starting the year off jobless, he rode in just about every class imaginable, both on the world stage and in his native Spain. He was impressive in his appearances as a substitute for Mika Kallio, then later for the injured Niccolo Canepa, so much so that he was offered a permanent ride for 2010.|
|Paddock GP Honda||
Paddock GP - the brainchild of Daniel Epp, who ran the Caffe Latte team in the 250 class - was originally intending to enter the MotoGP class in 2010 with Thomas Luthi, but that plan was originally shelved after Luthi had a very mediocre season. As the year progressed, however, the plans resurfaced, with Epp announcing at Estoril that he had signed Hiroshi Aoyama for 2010. The irony of the situation did not go unnoticed: Aoyama had won the 250 championship for the Scot Honda team, but the MotoGP branch of the team lost its bikes to Paddock GP because first Yuki Takahashi and then Gabor Talmacsi were grossly uncompetitive. Epp has always run a competitive team in the lower classes, and now has his chance to make a mark in MotoGP.
|Hiroshi Aoyama||2010||Aoyama had a brilliant year in the 250 class, outperforming his underdeveloped Honda RS250RW and eventually taking the title for Honda. HRC rewarded him by helping him get a ride with Paddock GP, thereby also ensuring that MotoGP has a Japanese rider in the class. The question is, just how well will Aoyama adapt to the big bikes|
|Tech 3 Yamaha||
The Tech 3 team spent a long time in limbo, the prime victim of Jorge Lorenzo's dalliance with Honda, but that rather suited Herve Poncharal's purposes. The Tech 3 team boss said that the longer he had to wait, the cheaper his salary bill got. Once Lorenzo signed with Yamaha again, the next roadblock appeared in the shape of Ben Spies. Spies has a two year contract with Yamaha, for 2010 and 2011, and initially, the announcement said that he would be in World Superbikes next season and MotoGP with Tech 3 the year after. Nobody believed it at the time, and rightly so. Just a few weeks later, Spies announced that he would, after all, be moving up to MotoGP, and skipping the chance to defend his World Superbike title.
Spies will be swapping places with James Toseland. The British former World Superbike Champion could not live up to the expectations generated afer his strong first year in MotoGP, never getting to grips with the Bridgestone tires. Toseland's case was not helped by the pre-season crew chief swap which he had asked for.
|Colin Edwards||2010||The Texan has seen his best season for a long time rewarded with a new contract, but as that new contract is with Tech 3 directly, and not Yamaha Japan, Edwards isn't being rewarded as richly as in previous years. Edwards will have another year to finally get that MotoGP win which has proven so elusive this season, and in the meantime will be acting as a coach and mentor to the other half of Team Texas, Ben Spies|
|Ben Spies||2011 (with Yamaha)||Ben Spies has been little short of phenomenal in 2009, winning the World Superbike title at his first attempt, while setting a string of records along the way. He followed up his title victory with a strong wildcard performance at Valencia, raising expectations even further. Spies is widely regarded as Yamaha's backup plan if, or perhaps when, they lose one of their two current superstars. The Texan will spend 2010 in the Tech 3 team, while 2011 will depend on what happens in the Fiat Yamaha team, and whether there's a vacancy there.|
|FB Corse||The FB Corse team, emanating from the World Superbike paddock, has announced its intention to field at least one bike next season, though major question marks remain over whether they will actually be present at Qatar next April. The bike is based on the three-cylinder lump developed for BMW's abortive MotoGP effort by the Oral Engineering Group, put in a chassis built by the team themselves. This was how MotoGP was meant to be, but costs - or perhaps an inability to generate income - has so far prevented the series from seeing more of this type of venture. As the team and bike will be Italian, an Italian rider is almost a prerequisite, although John Hopkins has also be strongly linked to the team.|
|Alex de Angelis, John Hopkina||Rider announcements are unlikely to be made until the bike is actually confirmed as competing. Alex de Angelis was widely linked with the ride, but the current favorite is John Hopkins, as the American could potentially bring some money to the team and is desperate for a ride. The reality is that both Hopper and de Angelis are much more likely to find rides elsewhere, either in World Superbikes or Moto2.|
Update number 9 - November 25th, 2009 - Full update to reflect state of play at the end of the 2009 season
Update number 7 - September 23rd, 2009 - Pedrosa, Dovizioso, De Puniet, Edwards, Kallio updates added
Update number 6 - September 3rd, 2009 - Ducati retains Hayden, Pedrosa closer to renewing with Honda
Update number 5 - August 25th, 2009 - Lorenzo makes up his mind, and stays with Yamaha.
Update number 4 - August 16th, 2009 - Bautista confirmed at Suzuki
Update number 3 - August 15th, 2009 - Melandri signs for Gresini
Update number 2 - August 13th, 2009 - tentative reports of Barbera, Bautista, Dovizioso, Pedrosa
Update number 1 - August 6th, 2009.