Tech3 and Yamaha MotoGP Partnership to End in 2019—Tech3 and Yamaha have announced they will end a 20-year partnership after the 2018 MotoGP racing season.
The French-based MotoGP squad has been Yamaha’s official satellite team for many years and has fielded factory-contracted riders including Colin Edwards, Pol Espargaro, and Ben Spies in the past, however, it has accepted another offer to join an undisclosed manufacturer for the 2019 MotoGP racing season and beyond.
“Very recently we were informed by Hervé Poncharal, the owner of Tech3, that he has decided not to extend his contract with Yamaha to lease YZR-M1 bikes,” begins Kouichi Tsuji, General Manager Motorsports Development Division, YMC and President of YMR. “After discussions with Hervé it was clear that he has chosen to align with a new partner for the future and therefore, regretfully, we were obliged to respect and accept his decision.”
Tech3 has one World Championship victory with Yamaha to its name, the 2000 250cc title with Olivier Jacque, who defeated teammate Shinya Nakano on the finish line at Phillip Island.
“Clearly, to end that kind of partnership is a big decision for me,” said Poncharal. “Tech3 is a small company, which has to think about the future and has to weigh the different options. We’ve been offered a deal, that includes something we’ve been waiting for almost since we started with Tech3 and I couldn’t say no. But obviously, we are the Monster Yamaha Team until the last lap of the Valencia GP 2018. Johann Zarco and Hafizh Syahrin will be fighting for top positions and without a doubt, Yamaha can count on us to be a loyal performant partner.”
Just who the MotoGP manufacturer is that Tech3 has signed with remains to be seen.
Most signs point to KTM, for a number of reasons. The first being KTM is known to want a satellite team, one that would serve as a feeding ground for future talent in much the same way as Tech3 served to Yamaha and Pramac does for Ducati.
The second is KTM has been vocal in its desire to have current Tech3 rider Johann Zarco in its team. Should Tech3 and KTM align, Zarco would go to the factory team, and either Brad Binder or Miguel Oliveria will step up to Tech3 from Moto2. Both riders have MotoGP clauses in their KTM contracts.
Thirdly, the alternative manufacturer, Suzuki, doesn’t have the financial resources to supply two bikes in a separate team, unlike KTM, which has the enormous Red Bull concern bankrolling their racing program. Tech3 would thus swap Monster Energy sponsorship for Red Bull. Honda and Ducati currently supply their maximum number of satellite riders, and Aprilia doesn’t have the resources to run a satellite program.
Fourth, the lack of a Yamaha satellite team means the door is now open to Valentino Rossi’s VR46 team to make the move to MotoGP as a Yamaha team. This is impossible until 2021, as Dorna has guaranteed the grid slots to the current teams for a five year period, which expires at the end of the 2020 season.
We will wait until the official word as to where Tech3 is going and who they will align with, but one thing is for sure, one of the longest team and manufacturer associations in modern MotoGP will come to an end this year.
Source: Asphalt & Rubber