It has been an eventful couple of weeks for Yamaha. Apart from the expected hectic period of preseason testing, Yamaha agreed to a new two-year deal with Valentino Rossi. There was also the surprise announcement by Jonas Folger that he wouldn’t be racing in 2018, and working with Hervé Poncharal to find a replacement for the Tech3 team. More significantly, they also had to deal with the surprise announcement that Tech3 will be leaving Yamaha at the end of this season, and swapping to become a satellite for KTM from 2019 onwards. So journalists had plenty of questions for Lin Jarvis, the head of Yamaha Motor Racing, and Qatar was the first opportunity to ask him.
Confirming earlier rumors (x2), reports are coming out of the Crescent Racing’s British Superbike team that Anglo-American John Hopkins will be riding for the Suzuki-based team in the upcoming 2011 season. While no signatures have reportedly been made, Crescent Racing Team Manager Jack Valentine is calling Hopper’s ride for the now non-factory Suzuki team (Relentless by TAS has been tapped by Suzuki to be its “factory team” for 2011 in BSB) a “done deal,” as Hopkins has already begun training for his new assignment, and is eager to get back to racing.
The British Superbike series seems like a last hope bid for Hopkins, who is coming off a controversial season with Team Hammer’s M4 Suzuki squad. Team owner John Ulrich blasted Hopkins on the WERA message board late last year, all but accusing the American-born rider of lying to him about his physical health before the start of the 2010 season.
It didn’t take long for the other shoe to drop, and now it is official that Casey Stoner will race with HRC in 2011, after it was announced moments ago that the Australian would be leaving the Ducati MotoGP team. Perhaps the most unexpected development in this announcement is HRC’s intentions of keeping both Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso for the 2011 season. The likely result of this will be a two-man Repsol Honda team, and a second single-bike team, which is likely to be sponsored by Red Bull.