From the Blog

More silly season stuff

First of all I must apologise again for neglecting my blog. Things have been pretty difficult in the Hall household of late. Helena was due to have her thyroid surgery last week but it was cancelled at the last minute (when she was on the operating table, in fact) when a check of her blood pressure showed that it was over 200. So, no operation, some heavy duty blood pressure medication, complete rest and we try again when the BP has come down to an acceptable level. As if she hasn’t suffered enough.

However, just because our household is at a standstill at the moment does not mean that the rest of the world is frozen in time along with it. The MotoGp world has moved with alarming alacrity since we last spoke as witnessed by the graphic above., It represents the current state of play in MotoGp teams as of yesterday morning and there sure has been some changes, some of them very much unexpected.

The first domino to fall was the announcement that Dani Pedrosa will not be at HRC next year. Despite the fact that he’s been in a bit of a hole of late, I don’t think anyone expected that he would be shown the door, but marching orders he was given. So much for loyalty. It didn’t take long for the reason for the sudden news of his departure to be made known. We already knew that Lorenzo wouldn’t be at Ducati next year but it was right out of left field when HRC announced that they had signed him to a 2 year deal to ride alongside Marc Marquez. Many have already said that the creation of this “super team” is going to lead to a long period of Honda domination of the premier class. I’m not so sure about that but what it does illustrate is that Honda is utterly ruthless when it comes to promoting their team. Rider loyalties mean nothing, winning means everything. Of course students of the sport will note that this is nothing new, the organisation displaying its disregard for their riders feelings going way back to the 60’s when they sometimes hired extra riders into the team when points were close to make sure they won the Constructor’s crown, the only one they really care about. The fact that these hirings often worked against their established stars like Hailwood, Taveri, etc, was of no consequence to Honda at all.

In the mean time, Ducati’s announcement that Petrucci had been signed to replace Lorenzo was much less of a shock; it was a choice between him and Jack Miller and, since Miller has already been promised full works support for 2019, it makes sense that they would hire Petrucci, an Italian, and leave Miller at PRAMAC. (you can pencil Jack in in that team alongside Bagnaia.)

TechIII have announced their 2019 line-up also. Syahrin has impressed enough to be given another year and he will line up besides Miguel Olivera on KTM for the next year. The “works” KTM squad will be Zarco and Espargaro, as expected.

You will note that here are some question marks still. For example, where, if anywhere will Dani go next year? Places at the top teams are already taken, it’s pretty slim pickings, really. Aprilia, perhaps or LCR? Another name not on the list is Andrea Iannone who just might (and should) end up staying at Suzuki now that the team engineers seem to have the blue beast heading in the right direction. However, Suzuki have not yet confirmed the rumoured signing of Joan Mir to the team so Crazy Joe could STILL be out in the cold. AND, what of the rumoured PETRONAS-backed Yamaha satellite team? Well, with the distinct shortage of credible riders to staff the team, Lin Jarvis might be looking at his factory team as being the only Yamaha team on the grid. Unless Yamaha take the punt with a couple of wild card riders from Moto2 or 3, I can’t see them being there in 2019 with a satellite team.

The dispute between the principals of the Marc VDS team seems to have been settled with Michael Bartholemy leaving the outfit having been cleared of charges of financial impropriety. Despite being cleared, the atmosphere at the team would now be too toxic for him to continue there. Van der Stratten, the team owner, has  issued a press release saying that all is good but, very significantly, it makes no mention of their MotoGp team and many are expecting that the team will only continue as a Moto3 and Moto2 entrant. If this IS the case (and I believe it will be), that leaves Moto2 champ, Franco Morbidelli, in some difficulty as far as his MotoGp aspirations are concerned in 2019.

So the major signatures have been written but there are still some very interesting dickering still yet to be done and, remember, we’re only a third of the way through the season.

Now, Lorenzo and Honda? Has Jorge jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire? I think that maybe he has. For a start he is going into a team where he will plainly be the #2 rider. Bike setup and preferences are obviously going to favour Marquez and Jorge will have to learn to ride a bike whose style is diametrically opposed to the way he likes to ride. In fact, the Honda could well prove to be an even more difficult proposition than the Ducati and look how he has struggled there. I expect Marc to chew him up and spit him out, frankly. If it comes to an arm wrestle, I know where my money will be put.

And none of this takes into account what will be happening within the existing structures for the rest of the season! Yep, it’s going to be interesting.