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Folger faces dilemma over Yamaha MotoGP test offer

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Folger faces dilemma over Yamaha MotoGP test offer
By:
Co-author: Gerald Dirnbeck
Aug 16, 2019, 9:42 AM

Jonas Folger says he is weighing up whether to take up an offer from Yamaha remain as a MotoGP test rider in 2020 or try and return to racing full-time in Moto2.

After sitting out the 2018 season due to illness, former Tech 3 rider Folger was hired by Yamaha to head up its newly-formed European test programme.

Since then, the German has also made a racing comeback in Moto2 with the Petronas Sprinta team, deputising for the squad's injured regular rider Khairul Idham Pawi, but Yamaha dismissed the notion that Folger could make wildcard outings in the premier class this year.

Folger told Motorsport.com that he "has an offer" from Yamaha to stay as its chief tester in 2020, and that the Iwata marque is planning a "bigger" European test programme that could involve a handful of MotoGP race outings.

But he says he has to decide whether that, or racing in Moto2 full-time, is the right move.

"I have think about what's better for me: either [being] a full-time racer, or a test rider with wildcard entries, like Stefan [Bradl] does with Honda," said Folger. "That would be very tempting for me, because a lot can go wrong in Moto2.

"The risk in Moto2 is simply higher, that even if I tried everything, I might not be able to keep up with the front. Then of course it will be difficult again as a test rider.

"Now I have to decide whether I take more risks and find a Moto2 place and try to be at the front again, or if I become a test rider for Yamaha and have the opportunity to prove myself with wildcards in MotoGP two or three times a year."

Moto2 return harder than expected

In five outings with Petronas in Moto2, Folger has yet to score a point, with his best results being a pair of 17th-place finishes at Assen and the Sachsenring.

With Pawi still on the sidelines, Folger's ride will be taken by Aprilia MotoGP test rider Bradley Smith for the next round at Silverstone.

"I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I didn't think it would be so hard for me," Folger admitted. "That was a setback for me for a start.

"It's the experience I lack because I've been away from racing for too long. I have to learn the race mode again because the speed is already there, from the middle of the race to the end of the race. If I did more races, it would come back bit-by-bit."

Folger also acknowledged that he is not the Petronas' outfit top choice for a Moto2 ride in 2020, with the Malaysian outfit believed to be close to signing Valentino Rossi's half-brother Luca Marini, who currently races for the VR46 team.

Hafizh Syahrin, who lost his Tech 3 KTM ride in MotoGP, is another candidate for what is likely to be an expanded two-bike effort next season.

"It would be logical to negotiate with Petronas and we have already done that," said Folger. "After all those races it doesn't make it any easier, of course.

"I'm honest that I'm not the first choice. I have some offers, but first I have to wait until the top riders have found their places and then it's my turn."

Jonas Folger, SIC Racing Team

Jonas Folger, SIC Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images

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About this article

Series MotoGP , Moto2
Drivers Jonas Folger
Teams Yamaha Factory Racing , SIC Racing Team
Author Jamie Klein