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GP Week : Issue 136
WIth a shortage of quality rides on the table for next year, Andrea dovizioso is facing a major career choice – whether to depart from honda after a career with the manufacturer. The 25-year-old Italian, currently the third wheel in the factory Repsol Honda team, has offers from both Yamaha and Honda satellite squads, and is considering his options. On the one hand, he has been loyal to Honda throughout his career; on the other he has no place in the factory team for next year. The offer from the satellite Yamaha Tech 3 team came at the last race at Aragon, but since then he has been offered a slot on the satellite Honda LCR team, with the promise of a factory-spec bike. Asked before the race what he will do, he said: “I didn’t decide yet, and I have no limit. There is no reason to wait a month, but I didn’t decide yet.” Paddock insiders however thought he was closest to agreement with LCR. Team owner Lucio Cecchinello, currently enduring a nightmare season with off-form Spanish rider Toni Elias, told GPWEEK: “I am talking tonight on the telephone with his manager. Then we will see about the bike with Honda. I expect to have everything finalised by the end of the week.” Tech 3 team owner Hervé Poncharal was also waiting. “My offer is my offer, and the main objection is financial – which is understandable because Andrea is a factory rider, but we cannot pay to the same scale. “I told him that if he stays with Honda, there is no chance he will get back into the factory team. But next year there will not be much difference between the factory and the satellite Yamaha, and if he can beat Ben Spies or Jorge Lorenzo sometimes he may have a chance with the Yamaha factory.” Both teams have other options. Cecchinello is also negotiation with John Hopkins and Randy de Puniet; Poncharal with current Rizla Suzuki rider Alvaro Bautista. MARCo Simoncelli has renewed his contract with his satellite honda team for 2013, with the promise of continued factory support – and the bonus of a test today (Monday) of next year’s RC213v 1000cc honda. So far only factory riders Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa have tested the new machine, with third team member Andrea Dovizioso still awaiting his first chance. “I will try the bike on Monday,” he confirmed. “I am really curious to test this bike, to understand what it means to ride with 1000cc, and to try to give my opinion to the technicians,” he said. His contract renewal with the San Carlo Gresini team was announced in the week before the race. As this year, he will have a full factory-spec Honda. “I am very happy – it is the right choice for me and my future,” he said. “The bike will be 100 percent factory, like this year. Sure the factory team riders will receive the development a little bit before ... but the championship positions will count,” he said confidently Honda or Yamaha: Dovi Weighs it up the hopes of Suzuki teamsters and rider Alvaro Bautista were kept on hold at Motegi, with no decision yet from the factory as to whether they will remain in the MotoGP class next year. All had hoped for a final decision at the Japanese GP, but in spite of the presence of senior factory staff, their hopes were not requited. “ To be honest, it is still under discussion, still open,” said project manager Shinichi Sahara. “ We have a 1000cc machine undergoing track tests, and there are still some problems with it. But my feeling in the end is that the decision will be positive.” The smallest factory team, down to just one rider this year, has at last made progress with the 800cc bike, with Bautista up to third for a long spell in Sunday’s race – albeit only after crashes, ride-through penalties and off-track excursions had helped him move forward. However he was once again showing his back wheel to Hayden’s factory Ducati, as at several other recent races. Team manager Paul Denning said: “It’s getting very marginal from an operational point of view and sponsor development point of view and rider point of view. We’re going to be starting to lose opportunities very soon, so I hoped we’d have some clarity by the end of this weekend. “I’ve said that before. But I’m hopeful very shortly to be able to put a plan together.” Suzuki still on Hold as 2012 Decision Delayed 1000cc bike on track, but in private 14