No it’s not Victory Day, nor Valentine’s Day, and not even the next showing of the Vagina Monologues, the countdown to V-Day in the motorcycle world is the day that Valentino Rossi announces his move to Ducati in MotoGP racing. Slated to occur at Brno during the Czech GP because of a gentlemen’s agreement, Valentino Rossi’s announcement will be the crack in the doors that opens the flood gates of other announcements. Like a line of domino’s strewn about the MotoGP paddock, Rossi’s plans for 2011 are the tipping stone that sets the rest of the paddock in motion…and we’re sure he’d have it no other way.
For starters, Rossi’s departure leaves a vacancy at the Factory Yamaha team that must be filled. Perhaps the second (or third) worst kept secret in the MotoGP paddock, the promotion of Ben Spies to a factory Yamaha bike is also directly linked to Rossi’s departure. Talking today to the Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport, Fiat-Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis all but confirmed this notion saying, “If one of our two riders leave, then he [Spies] will be in the team.” “We believe we will have a winning team in 2011,” Jarvis continued. Likely wanting to offset the commotion that the departure of Rossi will bring, we can expect Yamaha to counter-announce the signing of both Lorenzo and Spies to the factory squad when Ducati announces the arrival of Vale.
Don’t expect the winning team that Jarvis mentioned to be called Fiat-Yamaha though. With Valentino out the door, the Italian car company is expected to leave with the Italian rider. Presumably Fiat was keen to snuggle up with Rossi to help bolster Ferrari’s, a Fiat subsidiary, chances of getting Valentino to drive/race in Formula 1…and occasionally hock Italian cars to European families. Thus with no Valentino in the mix, no Fiat sponsorship for the team.
Yamaha has been in talks with Petronas, who is already a current sponsor, in taking on a larger role in the team’s landscape, which could make the announcement at Brno a big one for Yamaha. There are also reports that Telefonica Moviestar would like to enter back into MotoGP racing, and a Spanish company sponsoring a Spanish soon-to-be Champion (Lorenzo), makes a lot of sense/cents in our minds.
All of this commotion at the factory level leaves a vacuum in the satellite squads. With Spies certain to move up from Monster Tech3 Yamaha to the factory squad, Team Manager Hervé Poncharal has all but assured us that a British rider will enter back into the team. With the UK being a large market for MotoGP, and no British riders in the series, there is certainly a lot of pressure on Dorna to bring in a worthy rider from the island country.
Who that rider will be leaves us with some conjecture, but perhaps the larger question is the status of Colin Edwards. Poncharal made no qualms telling us that he’s seen the American rider quietly discontent with his situation. Will he remain at Tech3? Remain in MotoGP? Remain in motorcycle racing? Only time will tell, so keep counting down the days during the summer break to Brno.