Gresini’s Quandary & What That Means for Scott Redding

08/22/2014 @ 12:52 pm, by David Emmett12 COMMENTS

Gresinis Quandary & What That Means for Scott Redding Friday Indianapolis MotoGP Indianapolis GP Tony Goldsmith 9 635x422

Under normal circumstances, Scott Redding would already know exactly where he will be racing in 2015. He has a contract with HRC and Gresini to race with the Go&Fun Gresini team, which puts him aboard the factory option Honda RC213V next year, replacing Alvaro Bautista.

Up until a few races ago, the only question mark was whether Redding would continue to run Showa suspension and Nissin brakes, which come as part of a lucrative sponsorship deal for Gresini, or whether the team would switch to Ohlins and Brembo, like the factory Honda team.

In the past couple of weeks, that situation appears to have changed. Ahead of the Brno round of MotoGP, rumors emerged that Gresini was struggling to raise the funds for 2015.

Title sponsor Go&Fun is alleged to be having financial problems, with Andrea Iannone’s manager Carlo Pernat telling reporters at Brno that Iannone has yet to receive the money for the helmet sponsorship deal the Italian signed with them.

There are now doubts that Go&Fun will be able to afford to continue the sponsorship of the Gresini Honda team for 2015, despite having a contract with the Italian team for 2015.

The potential loss of a title sponsor coincides with a price hike for Honda’s satellite RC213V. The cost, already high at over 3.5 million euros, is set to rise even further, pushing Gresini into a corner. Team owner Fausto Gresini has already had talks with HRC over the future of the bike.

The original deadline to order the Honda for 2015 was at the end of July, but Honda agreed to an extension, to give Gresini more time to secure funding. That deadline has been extended to the next race at Silverstone. At the British Grand Prix, Gresini must either order the satellite Honda, or give up the right to the bike.

If Gresini cannot find the cash to order the RC213V, what are the team’s options? There had been rumors linking Gresini to Aprilia, which would involve the team taking over the running of Aprilia’s factory team when they return in 2015. I asked both Fausto Gresini and Livio Suppo of HRC about those rumors, and both men dismissed them.

“Now we are not speaking with Aprilia. Many people have said this, but it is very strange for me,” Gresini told me. Suppo said the reports lacked credibility, adding that given how fast the satellite Honda is, and how big the gap is to the Aprilia-based ART bikes, the choice was simple: “Do you want to race to win, or do you want only to make money?”

Even if Gresini did lose the satellite Honda, running a one-bike team with an Open Honda would still leave them more competitive, especially as the 2015 RCV1000R is to receive a major engine update, and use the 2014 factory option RC213V engines, minus the seamless gearbox and the factory electronics.

For 2015, Aprilia will be racing an uprated version of their ART machine, before debuting a completely new bike in 2016.

The biggest problem for Gresini is that if they give up their claim to a satellite Honda, they will never get it back again. Satellite bikes become available about as often as a unicorn wins the derby, and relinquishing one means giving it up for the foreseeable future.

Gresini has had Honda satellite equipment for the last 18 years, and had great success with the marque, so to give that up now would be a major step backwards. As one paddock insider said, “there are only four of these [Honda RC213V] bikes in the world. When they become available, you take it and figure the money out later.”

The question is what effect the new rules coming in for 2016 will have. All of the bikes will then be using the same software, but it is far from clear whether the factories will be supplying different levels of machinery to different teams. The software for the spec ECU will be written by all three factories collaborating together.

It is clear that the factories will want the software to support their seamless gearbox systems, meaning that this could still be a differentiator between different bikes supplied at different price points.

That would still leave the teams with the 2015 satellite contract first in line for the best 2016 equipment from the factories, making it worth their while to ensure they have the satellite contract now.

For Scott Redding, any outcome other than Gresini finding the cash to fund a factory RC213V in 2015 means he must leave the team. Redding wants a factory option bike to challenge the likes of Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi.

“I don’t want to be racing to ‘win’ the open class; I want to be up at the sharp end, fighting with the factory Hondas and the factory Yamahas,” Redding wrote in his blog on the BT Sport website.

Other factories have shown an interest in Redding, with Ducati keen to tempt the young Englishman back into the fold. Redding tested the Ducati in 2012, and was immediately fast on the bike.

Ducati team boss Paolo Ciabatti told UK publication MCN that they would be very interested in talking to Redding, should he not reach agreement with Gresini. In that case, Redding would be offered a factory seat in the Pramac team, alongside Yonny Hernandez.

The most likely scenario, however, would be for the Marc VDS Racing team to move up to MotoGP. The team has come close to putting a MotoGP bike on the grid previously, but a combination of finances and a lack of competitive machinery has always held them back. For 2014, the only bikes available were Open class Hondas, which the team did not feel would be competitive.

The team also looked at an Open class Yamaha along the lines of the Forward system, with a leased M1 engine in a frame to be built by Kalex for 2015, but with the rules set to change and Michelin coming in as a new tire supplier for 2016, the costs were considered to be too high. Any bike designed for 2015 would have to be redesigned again for 2016, a major cost for a small chassis builder like Kalex.

Having a Honda satellite bike available would be an opportunity too good to miss, however. The Marc VDS team is in the luxurious position of having a rich patron in Belgian beer billionaire Marc van der Straten, but they are also among the most effective in the paddock at raising sponsorship.

If Gresini did relinquish the rights to the Honda RC213V, then the Marc VDS team could afford to sign the contract, pay for the deal, then go out and find the funds to sponsor the bike. Sources with knowledge of the situation say that meetings have already taken place with HRC about stepping in should Gresini leave.

In fact, Marc VDS Racing moving up to MotoGP would be an ideal scenario for Scott Redding. Not only would he be assured of a factory RC213V with HRC backing, he would also get to run the suspension and brakes of his choice. That is a key point for Redding, and he has been pushing for a switch to Ohlins and Brembo for some time.

“In this paddock, you don’t last long if you don’t make results, and I can’t take the risk for another year, because I don’t want to make results like Bautista did this year. He’s been struggling a little bit and crashing a lot,” Redding told reporters at the test at Brno.

Redding praised the work of Nissin and Showa, saying their commitment and effort was beyond question. But if he is to tackle Marquez and Pedrosa, he needs to do so on as near equal terms as possible, and eliminating the variable of suspension made the equation that little bit simpler.

The situation is far from sorted yet, however. First, Gresini will meet with Honda at Silverstone and give them an answer about their future. Once that has been decided, things could move very quickly indeed.

Source: BT Sport & MCN; Photo: © 2014 Tony Goldsmith / TGF Photos – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

Comment:

  1. H.L. says:

    Have always loved this kid’s mental make up. MVDS is the perfect situation and I hope it works out that way so he can get the Brembo Ohlins package. He is fearless and can hang with the big dogs with factory support and more power. Book it.

    I like Pol E. but he was intimidated by Redding last year when they battled and IMHO would have lost the championship to Redding if he doesn’t brake his hand. Make no mistake though, Pol earned it and got his mental straight just in time to reel off enough wins and points to get it done.

  2. HateUK says:

    “But if he is to tackle Marquez and Pedrosa, he needs to do so on as near equal terms as possible”

    That famed British humour.

  3. Damn says:

    you said it very good H.L.

    totaly agree

  4. KSW says:

    Time for some sarcasm,

    Too bad Marquez, Lorenzo, Rossi or any one of a number of people in the paddock or VIP tent won’t just sell a super car and make it happen for the sake of racing. The amount of money floating around that paddock surely shouldn’t allow such trivial amounts of $$ to stop the racing. Hell, the board of Bridgepoint could take personal money “pocket change” and make it happen if they cared as much about the product as they do there collection of houses.

    Just saying.

  5. Motogpdr says:

    Gresini has had ” great success” with Honda over the last 18 years? Did I miss something ? Lol

  6. L2C says:

    August 22, 2014 at 1:29 PM, H.L. says:

    I like Pol E. but he was intimidated by Redding last year when they battled and IMHO would have lost the championship to Redding if he doesn’t brake his hand. Make no mistake though, Pol earned it and got his mental straight just in time to reel off enough wins and points to get it done.

    Absolutely! When Pol Espargaro was asked for his opinion on Moto3 rider Jack Miller skipping Moto2 and moving straight up to MotoGP, he said something like “The talent in Moto2 is phenomenal. Moto2 is where you go to become a man!” That bit of insight came directly from Pol’s own personal experience in Moto2, as his transition from boyhood to manhood was on display for the entire world to see.

  7. H.L. says:

    Apologies on the misspelling of break. Too much Brembo brakes on my mind. Sure wish I had some.

  8. L2C says:

    @ KSW

    Rossi has his own team in Moto3 to run. Aleix has his own team in Moto3 to organize and launch successfully next year. And besides, the article states that Marc VDS is likely waiting in the wings to replace Gresini, or at least relieve the team of the burden of the Honda RC213V. Despite appearances, Gresini has options. They may not get to keep the Honda, but they may also still be in a good position to continue racing with production bikes.

    Personally, I think this situation with Gresini and Honda and Marc VDS is a very good example of how businesses work together to keep each other in the game. In this situation, Honda seems to have offered Gresini flexible terms–maybe a price break is even in there somewhere because the two teams have shared such a long and mutually beneficial history together.

    Gresini losing a title sponsor is a major issue, but the team may find another one. If not, it’ll have to adapt to the conditions just like all the other teams in the paddock have done from time to time. Most of the teams don’t run factory bikes, anyway. So let’s not weep too much for Gresini. It has been in a privileged and enviable position for a long time.

    The upside is that if Marc VDS gets the RC213V, there’s the chance that the team could produce as good/better racing with Scott Redding at the helm. I feel for Alvaro Bautista, yet more teams entering the series creates more opportunities for him. So thing’s aren’t quite to the point where top riders need to start passing a bucket around for donations on Gresini’s behalf. And Gresini would likely balk at the idea because business being what it is, those “donations” would likely come with strings attached.

  9. smiler says:

    Interesting article. Situation looks fluid and I just hoe Redding gets on a competititve bike.

    Interesting that Hinda are not doing more to keep Nissin and Showa in MotoGp. They are key suppliers to Honda and the Japanese rivals to Brembo and Ohlins.

    Bautista, eratic at the best of timers has clearly not been helped by being on the other brands but data appears to be a significant fact in success or failure of these components. It seems to be a catch 22 without someone like Honda keeping them in the game long enough to be able to succeed.

    Silverstone is going to be interesting in many ways apprently.

    MotoGP’s reliance on energy drinks seems to be like their earlier reliance on cigarettes, especially with concerns being raised about energy drinks and health. Diversification in sponsorship can only be a good thing.

  10. HateUK says:

    “I don’t want to be racing to ‘win’ the open class”… No chance of that happening so I wouldn’t worry. 220 points behind Marquez halfway thru the season – yeah change the label on the forks and brakes, I’m sure that’ll make the difference. The reason for 33 years without a single premier class race win is explained perfectly by this article.

  11. Stu says:

    Honda to run a sub-Repsol team with Miller on a full factory RC213V……..

  12. TrotterUK says:

    Me and my wife were at the Cadwell Park round round of BSB, we were wondering why all Go and Fun/Redding45 official merchandise had a 25% discount. The LCR/Bradl6 merchandise was on sale too.