The rookie rule is to be dropped for the 2013 season. The Spanish daily El Pais is reporting that Dorna and IRTA have decided that the rule preventing MotoGP rookies from being signed to a factory team had to be scrapped due to the difficulties presented by the limited number of bikes available to ride. As a consequence, it was felt it was better to drop the rookie rule altogether, rather than create more problems for existing satellite teams by maintaining it.

The rule had outlived its usefulness, explained IRTA secretary Mike Trimby. “The situation has changed. There are far fewer opportunities for rookies now than there were when the Rookie Rule was introduced.” In 2010, the first year of its introduction, there were three satellite Ducati seats, two satellite Yamaha seats and four satellite Honda seats available.

In 2013, there will be just two satellite Yamahas and two satellite Hondas, with perhaps just a single satellite Ducati available, though Ducati team boss Alessandro Cicognani said that it was Ducati’s intention to keep two satellite Ducatis if possible, and the factory was willing to look at pricing to help achieve that goal.

The catalyst of all this is of course Marc Marquez. Though it appears as if Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta has caved in to pressure from Honda, who were known to be keen to have Marquez go straight to the Repsol Honda team, the pressure to drop the rule also came from the satellite Honda teams themselves. As LCR boss Lucio Cecchinello explained, maintaining the Rookie Rule would have caused massive problems for both the LCR and the Gresini Honda teams had they signed Marquez.

The Spaniard has a very long-standing relationship with Repsol, and that relationship would have meant the teams losing their own oil sponsors, LCR with ELF and Gresini with Castrol. They would also have to lose staff to make way for the crew Marquez is currently working with. With Marquez almost certain to then leave for the Repsol Honda team the year afterwards, there would have been massive disruption to the long-term relationships the satellite Honda teams had already built up with sponsors and crew, with little prospect of being able to repair them afterwards.

With the Rookie Rule out of the way, Marquez’ path has been cleared to join Dani Pedrosa at the Repsol Honda squad. A HRC source said that no contract had been signed, though they acknowledged that talks were ongoing. They also affirmed that Honda were keen to retain the services of Dani Pedrosa, who they still consider vital to their Championship chances.

No announcement has been made concerning the Rookie Rule, but it is likely to be included with a raft of other changes to be introduced after approval by the Grand Prix Commission at Assen in just under two weeks’ time.

Photo: Honda

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

  • German

    Marquez and Monlau Team coula have used a FTR Honda like Pirro’s and problem solved, or even ride a satellite Ducati. I think Dorna agreed to trash the rule because Honda agreed on the control ecu and/or rev limit. Nothing is for free

  • Jonathan

    So Marquez gets parachuted straight into the inner circle. There’s a surprise. I guess there’s no point in learning the Motogp ropes and being fast unless you can bring sponsorship with you. Still, no-one else wanted that Honda seat, did they?

    Someone remind me again why the big guys are limited to 2 factory + 2 satellite bikes in an era when sparse grids are being padded out with thinly disguised superbikes? I know all about the numbers but proper grown-up racing is never going to be cheap. And no-one is going to sponsor you for being last.

  • sicfan

    How is that fair, what a load of balls, pol espagaro will probably win the moto2 championship and end up on a CRT lol, I truly hate that little repsol golden boy who doesn’t seem to have any track awareness

  • BBQdog

    Spanish rider, spanish team, spanish organisation. Repsol. Honda. Do I have to say more ?

  • anti

    He is a liability, I wonder which current MotoGP rider he will kill next year. Maybe he should be relegated to Moto 3 till he discovers respect for others safety.

  • John

    Is there any better evidence of why MotoGP is in trouble?

  • irksome

    Hopefully, he’ll have as much success as Tony Elias did…

    It amazes me that people are so willing to crown a new alien; has this kid even tested a 1000cc MGP bike?

  • DareN

    sicfan has good point – seems like all those riders born with silver spoon in their mouths have problems when they encounter real adversary. Pumpered from the beggining of their carieers, they are not mentally prepared to claw their way to the top. IMO there are few riders in Moto 2 more or equally tallented – Espagaro, Luhti and especially, Andrea Iannone, who,I think , is totally ready to jump to MotoGP.

  • Cpt.Slow

    My vote goes to crazy joe!

  • MotoJoe

    This is getting as bad.

  • Bucks Miaggi

    These “thinly disguised superbikes” are not even on par with their counterparts. The reason is the engine limit: 12 for CRT in MotoGP, no limit in WSBK. Apparently Biaggi used 28 engines in 2011 (there are sources that even state 34). With the engine limit, the engines have to be detuned to last longer, and can’t rev as high and produce as much power as in WSBK. How much of this loss can you recover with a prototype chassis and carbon brakes?

    Regarding the Rookie Rule stunt: IMO MotoGP will hurt itself a lot with this rule change, because they will lose a good chunk of the little credibility that’s left. They could have moved Marquez to his own satellite team, and made one of the existing satellite teams switch to CRT for one year to be able to retain the mechanics etc while still abiding by the 2 factory + 2 satellite bikes rule (which is also stupid, but maybe really necessary to push CRTs, don’t know).
    This move is totally unnecessary, and will hurt MotoGP’s and especially Marquez’ reputation big time. Even IF he really is the next big thing, there is no way he will win the championship for the Honda factory team in his first season.

  • Grant Madden

    Riders used to be able to move up when both they and the teams thought they were ready.why not.They are the guys who should know.Very unusual to win a class the first season.Taking a season to come to grips with the new class seems to make sense.Good luck to the man.At least this way he gets to stay with a sponsor who has faith in him.Sponsors are really hard to find!!
    Best of luck to you Marc,hope you take a season to come to grips with the new machinery and become a better rider as a result.

  • Lindsay

    Who’s the last guy who jumped on a factory bike straight out of the top support class?

    A little known Spaniard by the name of Jorge Lorenzo you say?

    Well that guy’s not achieved much has he? I don’t see why they ever allowed it…

  • Slangbuster

    What Honda wants….Honda gets!!! Hope he doesn’t chip a tooth on that silver spoon. “I’m not a Repsol Golden Boy! I’M NOT…I’M NOT…I’M NOT!

  • Bryan

    Not at all surprised.
    @ BBQdog: Let’s add – We (Motogp) Need Ratings and Publicity….Badly.
    Since Stoner will leave a huge gaping hole; and I think we are seeing beginning of the end for Pedrosa. Was first ‘fiddle’, then second behind Stoner, now it will be second behind Marquez. Nervous much?