One of the big criticisms of MotoGP is that it is all but impossible for satellite teams to compete against the factory supported squads. Besides having smaller budgets, satellite teams also have to contend with the fact that their machinery is many revisions behind what the lastest spec is, and in some cases they are relegated to using bikes from the previous season.
The end result of this practice is essentially the 2009 season, where the only riders on the top step were from factory teams (not counting the freak outing at Donington Park), and on any given Sunday, the same four riders are the day’s favorites. Honda however is set to change that in 2010, and is structuring its satellite teams on a pay-to-play basis.
For an extra €200,000, Honda satellite teams will have access to machinery that is only a few GP’s off what the factory team is riding. With changes during the season creating usually only incremental enhancements, this should mean that those teams that cough up the extra cash can be just as competitive as their factory counter-parts, thus allowing the rider to make the difference between victory and defeat.
This comes as good news for riders like Randy de Puniet, who have shown immense talent this year on a clearly lesser bike. Indeed, this arrangment is at least partially responsible for helping LCR Honda retain the French rider for next year. The move benefits fans too, who will get to see their favorite Honda riders vie more closely for podium contention. The only real question about the tiering system, is why other teams haven’t considered adopting something similar for their programs?