It is official. There is a huge crisis looming over MotoGP. It is now more or less sure that Suzuki has withdrawn from MotoGP and also perhaps from World Superbikes, even though Paul Denning’s Crescent team will use privateer Suzuki GSX-R 1000s. Honda which used to supply six motorcycles will not supply only four. Two of those will be for the Repsol Honda team with Casey Stoner, who will be defending World Champion and Dani Pedrosa. The other two will be one each for Gresini and LCR. It is yet unclear as to which of the teams will get the factory spec motorcycle that was originally meant for the late Marco Simoncelli. It is believed that LCR may get the motorcycle with Moto2 champion Stefan Bradl on board. If that is the case then Gresini will get a satellite spec Honda which will be ridden by new signing Alvaro Bautista.
Yamaha will have its usual four bikes, two in the factory team and two in the Tech3 team. All seats for Yamaha are filled with factory rides in the hands of present incumbents Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies, while the Tech3 rides going to present incumbent Cal Crutchlow and new signing defector from Honda Andrea Dovizioso. Ducati will have Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden riding their factory spec machines while Hector Barbera will ride the sole Pramac Ducati with Karel Abraham aboard the Cardion AB Ducati. As far as factory machinery and factory leased machinery are concerned there will be twelve motorcycles on the starting grid. Three manufacturers fielding four bikes each. Ridiculous is the word that comes to mind.
It will therefore be up to the CRT or the Claiming Rules Teams to make up the numbers. Of these there are some confirmations. The first is Colin Edwards riding for the NGM Forward Racing team on a Suter-BMW (Suter chassis and BMW engine from the BMW S1000RR) and Anthony West for the Speed Master team using the engine of the Aprilia RSV4F. However it is not clear whether this motorcycle will use an FTR chassis or the chassis that Aprilia is supposedly developing separately for MotoGP and different from the chassis of the RSV4F. In fact, that is the case with teams that want to use the potent Aprilia engine.
Team Aspar which has committed to the CRT category is wanting to run Aprilia engines and is waiting for the chassis scene to be sorted out. Aspar will run two motorcycles. Team Gresini will run one CRT bike apart from the leased factory bike. The rider is yet unknown but Gresini will be using the FTR chassis and fitting an engine from the Honda CBR 1000 R Fireblade in it. Team BQR is known to be using an FTR chassis for a Kawasaki ZX-10R engine and will be ridden in all probability by Moto2 rider Yonny Hernandez. There is some confusion about the second BQR bike. It seems that the second bike is an Inmotec (which was to have joined the MotoGP grid along with FB Corse with a prototype bike) and it is being ridden by Ivan Silva. Now we do not know if this is a prototype or a CRT bike. Things will be clearer soon enough. Apart from this there were two Gapam-BMW bikes ridden by Gianluca Nannelli and Federico Sandi and another Suter BMW ridden by Carmelo Morales at the post Valencia test for next year’s machines. It is not clear if they are all joining the grid next year.
So we are looking at about six confirmed CRT entries and that takes the grid size only to 18 when the intention is to take it to 22. Marc VDS team, which has done early testing of the Suter-BMW maybe entering the fray. Mika Kallio was used for riding this bike in testing. Carmelo Ezpeleta of Dorna is confident that grid size will reach the magical number of 22. Whatever it is, it is pretty clear that MotoGP is entering a new era and the coming months will reveal which way this era will go. We will keep reporting as the news keeps coming in.