Just because Ducati won’t announce that they’ve signed Valentino Rossi, doesn’t meant that silly season in the MotoGP paddock can’t continue. The latest rumors coming out of GP racing is the departure of Marco Melandri to World Superbike, supposedly to a BMW ride, and Andrea Dovizioso finding himself riding with Gresini Honda, on a factory supported Honda RC212V. The move apparently comes because of Honda’s obligation to Dovizioso, and desire to keep the currently #2 rider in the world: Dani Pedrosa.
When Honda signed Casey Stoner as a HRC factory rider, the company also announced its intention to retain Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso in some sort of three man team. Honda at the time was reportedly talking to Red Bull about sponsoring a single-bike team that would have full factory support from HRC, but those talks have seemingly fallen through as the money has dried up.
With no money in sight to finance their three man effort, HRC is in a pickle because Andrea Dovizioso reportedly has a performance clause that automatically renews his contract with Honda if the Italian rider finishes in the Top 5 in the MotoGP Championship standings (Dovi is currently 3rd).
That issue might not be as a large as it is if it wasn’t for the fact that Dani Pedrosa is currently second in the World Championship standings, meaning Honda is keen to retain the Spaniard’s services for next year as well. With Pedrosa still the #1 man in the Repsol team, Dovi is having to play second fiddle during contract negotiations.
The solution for Honda seems to be the Gresini Honda team, who have the financing and sponsoships already in place for a two-man team. Dovi moving to Gresini would be a boon for the squad as they not only would be retaining one of MotoGP’s most talented riders, but they’d be getting him basically for free, as HRC would be paying Dovizioso’s contract.
With Honda guaranteeing support to Dovi, and Marco Simoncelli, the other Gresini rider, who is also under HRC contract, 2011 would seem to see the Gresini squad essentially being another factory-backed team in the MotoGP paddock, which could get real interesting if Gresini started beating the Repsol Honda.
Meanwhile the move would leave the other Marco SOL, and rumors are starting about Melandri defecting to WSBK, with links to a factory BMW ride, and possibly replacing Ruben Xaus on the squad. While nothing has been remotely close to being confirmed, these are all rumors that have been mentioned on more than one occasion, which makes you wonder if there’s not some truth to them. More as we get it.