MotoGP Silly Season Begins

August 14, 2009
Steve Atlas
Steve Atlas
Contributing Editor |Articles |Articles RSS

Professional-grade speed and an attitude to match, Steve Atlas is the new blood at MotoUSA. Atlas has AMA racing creds that are even more extensive than his driving record.

Ben Spies - World Superbike  Misano
Where will American Ben Spies end up next year? Will it be MotoGP? The young Texan is a world-wide hot prospect these days.

The MotoGP Silly Season is getting into full swing and here is a run-down of what we’ve heard so far.

First off, it’s been no secret that Yamaha has expressed a very keen interest in keeping current World Superbike star rookie Ben Spies happy; whether that means a MotoGP ride next year or staying in WSBK is the big question. Due to the new rules, as a MotoGP rookie, he would have to go to the Monster Tech 3 team. This would most likely be alongside fellow statesman Colin Edwards, whose current teammate, James Toseland, has floundered mid-pack this year and caused nothing but drama within the team, thus he’s most likely out at the end of the year. More than likely Toseland will land back in World Superbike next year. Other riders rumored around the Tech 3 spot include John Hopkins, who has a personal Monster Energy endorsement deal already, and even Nicky Hayden, who’s had a rough year at Ducati.

Yamaha’s WSBK team is also trying everything they can to keep rippin’-fast Texan Spies in his current position with them, so the final decision will undoubtedly fall into Spies’ lap as the talented youngster is the hottest property in road racing today. It’s good to be Ben…

Jerez Test - James Toseland
James Toseland looks set to head back to World Superbike next year after a couple years of lackluster MotoGP results. But the biq question is: Who will take his place?

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP boss Paul Denning was quoted recently as saying they are looking at up-and-coming 250cc GP talent Marco Simoncelli and Alvaro Bautista. But with Simoncelli recently singing with the San Carlo Gresini Honda team it would look as if Bautista is a possible shoe-in at Rizla Suzuki. Logically, they would keep the better performing and more experienced Loris Capirossi and let Chris Vermeulen go. Most agree he’s had plenty of time to prove his worth and not performed as they had hoped. Denning was also quoted as saying he would still like to talk to Spies if the Texan was interested, but considering how well Yamaha has treated him and how much more competitive their MotoGP bike is, we doubt he’ll be giving Denning a ring anytime soon.

The other big rumor is Fiat Yamaha superstar Jorge

Jorge Lorenzo - Jerez MotoGP Testing
Big news floating around is that young Spanish star Jorge Lorenzo will replace Dani Pedrosa as the No. 1 rider at Repsol Honda, leaving a spot open on the factory Fiat Yamaha team.

Lorenzo will be going to Honda as their main rider next year. There’s no question that at Yamaha he will always be second in line to Valentino Rossi, thus the temptation of being the No. 1 rider at the factory Repsol Honda team has a big draw for the Spanish rider as his current contract is up at the end of the season. That would most likely leave Dani Pedrosa out of a ride, as his multiple injuries and inability to be the title contender Repsol hoped for has left him unwanted by HRC. Which then begs the question, where would Pedrosa go?

(UPDATE: Hours after this article posted live, HRC announced it will keep Pedrosa and Dovizioso on as the factory Honda pilots for two more seasons – Honda Sticks with Pedrosa and Dovizioso)

Once the Lorenzo/Pedrosa situation is figured out all of the factory-supported spots can fall into place. The second spot on Gresini Honda alongside Simoncelli is still open and a few names are floating around it. Top of the charts is Mark Melandri, who has had some extremely impressive showings on the out-dated Kawasaki ‘thing’ this year and raised some eyebrows in the process. He’s also ridden for them in the past and won for them as well. Current rider Toni Elias is also still in it with a chance, though there is no question Gresini’s current second rider, Alex de Angelis, is out.

Hayden had a rough start to his Ducati career  with a sickening highside in qualifying and running into the gravel trap on Monday. MotoGP - Losail
Nicky Hayden only has a 1-year deal at Ducati and so far it’s been a rough ride for the Kentucky Kid. Will he stay in red for 2010?

The Hayate (Kawasaki) team is supposed to fold altogether, though Kawasaki’s deal with Dorna runs through 2011 and will once again cause waves this off-season. Pramac Ducati is another team with question marks surrounding it, as funding for that team seems to change on a regular basis. The same can be said for the Scot Honda team as they have gone through two riders this one season already, though LCR Honda looks set to keep Randy de Puniet so not much change going on there.

For now that’s all, but be sure to keep an eye on these pages for more as we hear it…

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