Recent news that former European Champion Christophe Charlier and Spain’s leading racer Jose Butron have signed for MXGP rides with 24MX Honda (Honda Motor Europe) and Marchetti Racing KTM respectively have been the only announcements when it comes to the shape of the Grand Prix paddock for 2015 so far.
It is a rather strange predicament when negotiations over the summer and months of rumours have placed a number of athletes with various factory teams…but nobody is talking about them.
The only works line-up that will not see a change or a new face is the Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP crew of Clement Desalle and Kevin Strijbos… and there has still not been an official communication confirming the Belgian duo. Suzuki are likely to ‘announce’ the team in line with their strategy concerning the factory MotoGP effort and this is an example of the general wave of hesitation that is hanging over the FIM Motocross World Championship at the moment.
“There are arrangements for 2014 still in place so they [the riders] are obliged not to talk about anything,” revealed HRC General Manager Roger Harvey. “It is getting earlier and earlier in the year so I think there is a mutual respect among the manufacturers that during the racing season that no announcements will be made.”
“It also has to fall in the press and PR situation of each company and that is why we, as Honda, are not at liberty to say anything at the moment,” he added.
Honda, Yamaha, KTM and Kawasaki will all employ new athletes and these movements also involve a raft of changing brand associations and partnerships. For example somebody like Gautier Paulin is tied to Monster, Parts Unlimited, Thor, Alpinestars and 100% this year as part of Monster Energy KRT. This could change around totally for 2015. Depending on contract lengths it is hard to justify a public push when an existing agreement (with clauses and penalties) is still in place.
For some racers the season technically ends this weekend with the Motocross of Nations in Latvia. For some of the bigger names their responsibilities stretch on until December so that companies can use their profile for appearances and large shows like Intermot in Germany and EICMA in Milan.
Press releases have been forthcoming about 2015 in MotoGP however in the cases of Aspar, Jack Miller and the Marc VDS team. “There are not that many official announcements made there,” states Harvey. “Take the recent case of Cal Crutchlow. He was staying where he was and then… it depends when your cut-off points are [as a manufacturer]. Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa are current riders for HRC and that’s why official communication was made [about their contract extensions]. If a rider is changing manufacturer then it tends to happen later.”
The ‘official’ fates of Ryan Villopoto, Gautier Paulin, Max Nagl, Tyla Rattray, Tommy Searle, Evgeny Bobryshev, Romain Febvre and Jordi Tixier to name but a few (even take Ken Roczen’s employment status as a heightened example) will then soon be known. As Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Team Manager Antti Pyrhonen admits: “Personally I think it is a snowball effect. When one or two teams or riders are announced then everybody can start to talk.”