Just for once we thought we’d permit a little speculation to ride roughshod over hard nosed objective reporting… we spoke to three people who earn a living via the GP circuit to give us their unattributable word on who is actually going where next year. They’re too embarrassed to be named because even the lowliest Dorna flunky loathes being proved wrong, and since this is our idea of a little light relief we’re not too bothered about signed witness statements….
As per usual, it all revolves around Vale, despite an increasing body of evidence suggesting that 46 will struggle compared to former glories, irrespective of what he ends up riding. If he goes to Yamaha, Dovi is shafted, which means Cal takes it up the dark side as well. Dovi deserves the M1 ride alongside Jorge, no question, and to win races for them we would take him in front of anyone else, Rossi included. But it aint happening. The Yamaha factory team are still relatively impoverished, so from a corporate point of view the Rossi deal wins out – just as long as Jorge can be kept sweet by retaining his no 1 status, an important part of the deal.In the event of Rossi going back to Yam, Dovi will be first choice to remain at Tech 3 – who will then have a massive problem on their hands, since for political reasons they have Mr.Smith signed and sealed for a GP ride next year. Herve Poncharal’s team get Dorna backing to blood Brit riders, but three into two just won’t go. Unless extra funding can be found, one of the trio (Smith / Cal / Dovi) will not be on a 3 next year, and Dovi now looks nailed on to stay. Ironically, in view of his overtures to Ducati, what Cal really needs is one more year in Tech 3. If he stayed, next year he’d have increased factory support and a bike he was familarised with. Risking that to get on a Des was ill advised, since it alienated Yamaha connections, making Cal vulnerable to the exact set of circumstances now in play.
The problematic consequences of Vale going to Yamaha is compounded by Pedrosa predictably staying with Honda – never underestimate the power of Puig – plus Hayden staying at Ducati, and the latter’s reluctance to partner him with Mr.Crutchlow, whose team must be regretting their cavalier treatment of Tech 3. The truth is that Cal now needs Herve a lot more than Herve needs him. Tech 3 aren’t in it to win it but to survive and play the role Dorna see fit to impose upon them, albeit very successfully.
It would be ironic if two Brit GP rookies effectively displaced the most successful British rider for years, but right now that looks very much on the cards – unless a way can be found to accommodate Smith while keeping Cal at Tech 3. This week Scott Redding (and Iannone) will be testing Ducatis, and unless the former has a nightmare, Cal will be the one confronting a few demons over the next few weeks. There is a possibility that Scott could be re-routed to one of the Ducati satellites, but our boys say that Corse are not keen on promoting from within the squad for next year. If that’s true, the hillbilly boy may yet find himself astride the Des alongside Nicky, leaving Cal – where, exactly? Audi by the way will make no difference to anything for a while, bar insisting on sorting a proper feeder system for the future, along the lines of the Tech 3 / Yam dialogue. The only reason Rossi hasn’t bailed out already was because of a misplaced certainty that Audi would dig deep to keep….
The majority verdict from our boys was an M1 will sport 46, and that Dovi will stay put, since only a factory Honda or Yamaha could tempt him, and neither will be forthcoming. With Rossi joining his bete noir back at Yamaha, Marquez at Honda and a strong Tech 3 representation guaranteed, never mind the tantalising prospect of Scott Redding on a factory Ducati, 2013 looks like being quite a party, despite Casey’s sabbatical / retirement. Let’s hope Cal is in a position to play his part.