After winning the World Superbike Championship in 2009, Ben Spies continued his rise to motorcycling stardom, as Yamaha gave the Texan its blessing to move onto the MotoGP Championship. The move wasn’t made without resistance though, as the satellite teams within MotoGP were sick and tired of seeing top-talent riders like Spies go directly into factory-backed teams in their first season. Thus the Rookie Rule was born, seemingly with the direct detriment of Spies in mind.
Showing its mettle with the American Spies, the Rookie Rule was again tested when Italian Marco Simoncelli entered MotoGP, and was forced to join the San Carlo Gresini Honda team. Simoncelli, considered by many in the MotoGP paddock to have the future star-power of mentor Valentino Rossi, served his two-season sentence in the satellite squad, and before his untimely death at Sepang, he was expected to move up to the factory ranks in 2012.
Now with the shock news of Casey Stoner’s retirement, HRC has been put in a tremendously difficult position with its factory-backed Repsol Honda team. Though said to be eager to retain Dani Pedrosa, HRC realizes that its long-term future is in Marc Marquez. With the young Spanish Moto2 rider posing a number of problems in his expected ascension into MotoGP in 2013, Honda has found itself between a rock and a hard place for next season.
Similarly, Dorna is in a precarious spot with the state of the MotoGP Championship. Watching its golden goose Valentino Rossi struggle on the Ducati, and counting the nine-time World Champion’s future time in MotoGP on only several fingers, the MotoGP media rights holder is under tremendous pressure to find a new star to attract the masses, and as a Spanish company…the preference is seen as favoring a Spaniard to take that center-stage spotlight. Enter the repeal of the MotoGP Rookie Rule, which kills two birds with one stone.
With Honda long believed to be pulling the strings on Dorna’s marionette (as it is the manufacturer with the largest presence in MotoGP), and Dorna having an obvious interest in helping cultivate a badly needed new star/personality in its sport, it was announced at the tail-end of the British GP that MotoGP would do away with the Rookie Rule for 2013. Stating that it served no purpose anymore for the satellite teams (interestingly enough, the only teams seemingly quoted as saying the rule was unnecessary were the Honda satellite teams), the MotoGP Rookie Rule was cast aside as something that applied to a former vestige of the Grand Prix Championship.
The short-lived application of the provision, and its obvious implementation and repudiation occurring for very specific riders, has lead to an enormous outcry of how arbitrary the MotoGP rules have become, and has leaded to fans and commentators to cry afoul of the internal relationships between Dorna, manufacturers, and those of certain nationalities.
While much can be said on the subject, perhaps the most succinct and accurate appraisal of the situation comes from the rule’s first intended target: Ben Spies. One of three Americans in “the Spanish Championship that travels around the world”, the factory Yamaha rider, whose future placement for the 2013 season could now be affected by “the Marquez Rule”, had no problem telling his fans on Twitter exactly what he thought of Dorna’s latest decision. Agree or disagree, leave your thoughts in the comments.
Source: Ben Spies (Twitter)