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Silly Season & MotoGP Rookie Rule Repeal

Thursday, June 21, 2012
Another piece of the MotoGP Silly Season puzzle appears to have fallen into place, with an expected repeal of the MotoGP Rookie Rule for 2013. Eliminating the rule, which restricts MotoGP rookies from campaigning on a factory squad, now opens the way for Moto 2 star Marc Marquez to move directly to the Repsol Honda team next year.

Marc Marquez is expected to jump up to MotoGP  and can head straight to the Repsol Honda seat if the Rookie Rule is repealed.
Marc Marquez is expected to jump up to MotoGP straight to Repsol Honda, provided the Rookie Rule is repealed.
The 2013 rider shuffle was already expected to be contentious entering the 2012 season, with all the major stars in the final years of their contracts. Then at the French Grand Prix reigning MotoGP champion Casey Stoner announced his decision to retire at the end of the season, opening up a coveted seat on the factory Repsol team. Touted as a MotoGP heir apparent, Marquez’s move up to the premier class with his long-time Repsol sponsors was expected, but complicated by the Rookie Rule.

Plans to eliminate the rule emerged earlier this week, with Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta confirming that the MSMA (Motorcycle Sports Manufacturers Association) first suggested the move. A statement released on the MotoGP website June 19th, explains that “after further rallying by the MSMA and numerous talks between Dorna and the satellite teams, a joint proposal has been put forward to the Grand Prix Commission to scrap the Rookie Rule for next year.”

While agreed in principle the ruling still requires “final approval by the Grand Prix Commission” – which is comprised of Dorna, FIM, MSMA and International Road Racing Teams Association (IRTA).

The rule change hasn’t gone unnoticed by Yamaha Factory rider Ben Spies. The American was the first affected by the Rookie Rule. After his 2009 World Superbike title-winning season with Yamaha, Spies burned a year campaigning the Tech 3 satellite in 2010 before graduating up to the factory seat in 2011. Spies vented his opinion via Twitter (@BenSpies11), mentioning fellow Texan Colin Edwards in his Tweet:

“Heard the rookie rule is being changed back again......@texastornado5 sometimes I guess we need a diff passport?” Spies followed that Tweet with another, saying: “Not hating on Marquez at all. The kid is fast. I'm just stating facts that no matter where ur from in shouldn't hinder or help u.” 

Edwards responded by Tweeting: “@BenSpies11 Complete joke!!!! No wonder Casey has lost his passion when u see all cards stacked against ya....ridiculous!!”

The rule change and Marquez’s probable call-up to the Repsol squad come on the heels of the other recent big news in the Silly season shuffle – Jorge Lorenzo inking a two-year extension with Yamaha. There was speculation that Lorenzo might accept an offer to fill Stoner’s HRC seat in 2013, but now it appears both those two factory spots are sorted out.

The remaining factory seat at Yamaha and Honda will have several candidates. Dani Pedrosa could anchor an all-Spanish Repsol Honda squad, if he retains his long-time position at HRC. The second Factory Yamaha has Spies fighting for his job against the Tech 3 duo of Andrea Dovizioso (a former Repsol rider) and Cal Crutchlow. The English rider, in particular, has impressed in the opening rounds, outperforming all but Lorenzo in the Yamaha camp.

Crutchlow claims to be gunning for the Factory Yamaha seat, but is also on the record stating he’s not afraid of pursuing a factory ride with Ducati. After Catalunya the former World Supersport Champion admitted to our MotoGP Insider that much hinges on the decisions of Valentino Rossi and the then un-signed Lorenzo. “It is not at the back of my mind but nothing will happen for two months. Until the best two in the world behind Casey know what they are doing, like Jorge and Valentino, then I can’t make a decision.”

So the next major move in the Silly Season shuffle will come from Rossi. The Doctor’s first season and a half with Ducati have proven disastrous, leading to various rumors regarding his future. Linked to both the Yamaha and Honda factory seats, some speculate that Rossi may attempt to secure his own sponsorship and charter a one-man effort with one of the Japanese manufacturers. For his part, Rossi claims to be waiting until at least Laguna Seca, where Ducati will reveal a new engine spec, before making any decisions about 2013 and beyond.
MotoGP Racing Bios
Valentino Rossi
Who is the most popular MotoGP racer in the world? Valentino Rossi. Learn more about Valentino Rossi in Motorcycle USA's Valentino Rossi page for career highlights, pictures, and news.
Jorge Lorenzo
Jorge Lorenzo has been a force in MotoGP since his 2008 debut, becoming one of the most dominant Grand Prix riders in the paddock with his 2010 and 2012 MotoGP championship victories. Find out more about Jorge Lorenzo by checking out Motorcycle USA's Jorge Lorenzo page for career highlights, a complete bio, and racing pictures.
Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez made a huge debut in MotoGP and looks to further solidify his name among the greats. Learn about Marquez in Motorcycle-USA’s Marc Marquez bio page.

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wc524   June 22, 2012 09:16 AM

Please keep your comments relevant, we're talking about the Rookie Rule, not about rider size.

Size for most GP racers has always been small, but the point of this article was about how the Rookie Rule should still be enforced. But yet again Honda uses its political backing and hand in the series to twist the rules just because THEY made several bad decision and are losing their greatest asset in Casey Stoner.

I laughed so hard when I saw Ben and Colin's responses on Twitter this week. Couldn't agree more that politics, like Formula 1, is the trump card to any logic when it comes to rules.
Gray22   June 21, 2012 09:46 PM
I agree with rogase. On a seperate but some what related topic. When Stoner announced retirement, I made a remark about the size of moto gp riders getting precariously close to the stature of horse jockeys. I joked perhaps Casey Stoner retired so he could eat. But is there real cause for concern? Marc Marquez is an infant. He will be 20 years old when the season begins and he looks quite literally the size of a jockey. What happens if this kid falls of the bike? (which he will). I've played sports my whole life and I've wrecked on a dirt bike more than once and I know that being a bit more robust allowed me to get up and walk away from wrecks that other guys probably would have broken bones. Is the diminishing size of riders a call for worry, or am I just going over board? Also I do not think it is smart to hang your hopes and dreams on some one who is more likely to get injured and forced to sit out half a season or more (Dani Pedrosa).
rogase   June 21, 2012 07:14 PM
What a joke, why was the rule there in the first place. Seems Honda and Repsol get their way again