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so Nakano is with honda. Sete is with Kawasaki with the possibility of biaggi. heres the full story, but it may all just be rumors

Slot Racers: MotoGP Rumorville Update
Batta Says Biaggi Is 'Under Contract'.
by toby hirst
Sunday, October 08, 2006
With just two rounds of the 2006 MotoGP world championship to be run, a plethora of silly season rumors have been hitting the fan with regard to the grid for 2007. It had been almost a stifled rumormill, but that has changed over the last few days.

Melandri Stays With Honda

The main protagonist in the moving and shaking department has been Marco Melandri, with a possible move to Ducati Marlboro being widely spoken about, but that has come to nothing. Melandri had been in talks with the Ducatisti about replacing Sete Gibernau, but will now continue with Fausto Gresini's satellite squad, the signing confirmed late last week. It appears that Ducati were not prepared to raise the offer on the table (a reported 3 million euros) from Gresini for Melandri's services and a clause in the contract with Honda will now see the Italian remain with Gresini for another season.

Melandri's current team-mate, Toni Elias, has an uncertain future at present with Fortuna pulling their sponsorship, leaving Gresini on the hunt for backing. However, sources are reporting that with Gresini allegedly switching to Bridgestone rubber for '07, HRC are looking to place Makoto Tamada on the team. That would would seem a nice fit as Tamada has had working experience with the Japanese marque in the past. Tamada is a race winner several times over on Bridgestone shod Honda machinery.

Young Guns And Homeland Heroes For HRC

There are several talented riders from the 250cc class waiting in the wings, Andrea Dovizioso (Humangest Honda) and Alex De Angelis (Aspar Aprilia) to name but two, De Angelis recently linked with that second seat at Gresini Honda. Dovizioso is another young gun with an HRC contract in his back pocket and is highly rated within the paddock but HRC may elect to stick with Tamada for another season, further nurturing 'Dovi' before promoting the Italian to the big class for 2008.

Honda would certainly be in a position to 'help' Gresini if they get their way and keep Tamada in the ranks. Without a title sponsor (at present), HRC backing would come in handy, in turn giving Honda two Japanese riders to pin their homeland hopes on, Nakano and Tamada. That may all change if Gresini secures a European sponsor, requiring (you would imagine) an Italian or Spanish rider to support Melandri, although that didn't stop Honda placing Tamada (2004) and Ukawa (2003) with Biaggi on the Pons squad.

Tamada's current team, Konica Minolta Honda -- who hold just the single grid slot allocation -- also look set to switch to 'Stones, running Shinya Nakano, if the rumor holds true. Again, it would appear HRC are covering all the bases with Bridgestone making more of an impact this season although in reality only Loris Capirossi has had the bike under him to make use of an improved product. Kawasaki and Suzuki have again been found wanting with their bikes, Nakano and Hopkins both riding beyond the limits of their machinery for most of the season.

In terms of the future, Honda do have to be careful. Although they currently hold the youth card (Hayden, Melandri, Pedrosa, Stoner, Nakano, Dovizioso) other factories could intercede and steal some of that talent from under their noses. Certainly it would be refreshing for the series to see some of that young talent spread across the grid rather than seeing some of the journeymen of GP filling key berths based on monetary influence from long-held sponsors. That's Grand Prix racing, though -- money talks.

Sete, Carlos And......Max?

That leaves Ducati. Sete Gibernau has been in talks with Kawasaki, with his place alongside Loris Capirossi for 2007 looking extremely precarious whilst Melandri was on the radar. Injuries and misfortune have hit Sete hard this season, and with his pay demands being in the upper echelons of the GP hierarchy, a switch for the Catalan looks to be on the cards especially with Carlos Checa suddenly looking to slip under Livio Suppo's garage door.

Checa is believed to have held talks with Luis D'antin, and with Ducati Corse officials about joining the WSBK series as team-mate to Troy Bayliss. However, the lure of an open factory MotoGP slot may see Checa return once again to hook up with Capirex as he did in 2005, leaving Sete with little option but to 'go green'.

Certainly Kawasaki would benefit from Gibernau's experience with Ducati's Bridgestone project, and with Sete a solid development rider, it may be the kick-start the Kawasaki squad need with their 800cc programme.

There is possibly though a stone being aimed towards Gibernau's pond because sources are reporting this weekend that a certain goateed Italian may be about to turn his back on an Alstare Suzuki contract in world superbike at the 11th hour, to sign with the green machine in GP. It is uncertain at this time as to how far negotiations have gone, if anywhere.

A few people need convincing (myself included) but if it's confirmed, I wouldn't want to be Biaggi when Francis Batta caught up with me. In reality, could Kawasaki afford both Gibernau and Biaggi without serious backing from a well-heeled sponsor? Highly doubtful.

Remember, Biaggi is not everyone's cup of tea and has negative previous form with the organisers and certain manufacturers, Suzuki another to add to the list if this rumor bares fruit. It could all be smoke and mirrors as Biaggi has a 'contract', apparently, with Batta, as reported worldwide. Colorful story, and only those concerned know what get-out clauses (if any) are written into Biaggi's deal with Alstare Suzuki.

Yamaha And The Tornado?...We Wait To Hear

Over at Yamaha, things are more than a little uncertain. Title sponsor Camel (JTI Group) have not as yet committed to backing the works team for another year, rumor once again has Telefonica sniffing the air in the paddock having lost Fernando Alonso in F1. Valentino Rossi's team-mate is yet to be decided with Yamaha being extremely coy about naming Vale's sidekick. Colin Edwards would still be favorite to partner the Doctor, but an announcement has yet to be released, maybe a hangover due to the lack of confirmation of whom will sponsor the team or maybe Yamaha are simply waiting for Rossi to give Edwards the nod. What Rossi wants, Rossi gets. A season without a title sponsor, self-promoting the Yamaha brand, is possible.

Tech 3 seems to be an open book as we approach the winter. Carlos Checa, as mentioned above, looks to be riding a Desmosedici GP-7 bike for the works team or Luis D'antin's satellite squad and Alex Hofmann is reported to be ready to sign on the dotted line as the second rider for D'antin.

So, that leaves two rides with Herve Ponceral up for grabs. If Tamada is not placed alongside Melandri, Ponceral may wade in for the amiable Japanese but it is hard to imagine HRC letting Tamada go to the opposition. Other signings falling into place should complete the picture for Tech 3, the team could well look to the 250cc class to promote a younger rider.

Ilmor Join The Party

Casey Stoner looks set to contest another campaign with LCR Honda, Team Roberts at present may only run one machine again -- Kenny Junior on Michelins -- and Mario Illien's Ilmor project should be on the grid, Garry McCoy racing as a wild-card entrant at Estoril and Valencia. Suzuki look to be retaining their current line-up, John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen fronting the 800cc project for Paul Denning's team, and Repsol Honda is a lock-out; Nick Hayden and Dani Pedrosa are signed for the HRC works team.

Things should play out as we approach the end of the season. Dorna may need to give certain parties a leg-up, the BBC contract may see a Brit 'placed' by the organisers, and I'm sure sponsorship moves could still throw a spanner in the works for a few contract seekers out there.

Just a few scraps for you to mull over. More as we get it, but it appears to be a decision over old-timers Gibernau and Checa, with Tamada......and, allegedly, Max Biaggi. We shall see.

Stay tuned

Premium Member
3,529 Posts

I'm wondering if the teams are more likely to go with some young talent from the 250 class since the bike are switching to 800cc. Considering the success of Pedrosa and Stoner this year, it might be a smart move to grab one of them instead of dishing out the big bucks for a veteran that isn't quite cutting it.

It will be interesting to see how the riders adapt to the new bikes. They say the 800 have to be ridden differently than the current gp bikes, more like a 250. It may be a better fit to get a rider that is used to riding like that rather than trying to teach an old dog new tricks.

I know its risky to put your money behind a rookie. The teams are usually concerned about the giant leap from 250 to gp bikes because of the power difference, but it sounds like there isn't that big of a gap anymore.
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