MotoGP musical chairs - Silly season

Fall brigs us the end of a season and prepares us for a fresh start. Leaves fall off trees, much like MotoGP riders fall off teams. Of the top men in MotoGP, only four are certain about their whereabouts; Valentino Rossi, Loris Capirossi, Colin...

Fall brigs us the end of a season and prepares us for a fresh start. Leaves fall off trees, much like MotoGP riders fall off teams.

Of the top men in MotoGP, only four are certain about their whereabouts; Valentino Rossi, Loris Capirossi, Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden. The rest; Sete Gibernau, Max Biaggi, Marco Melandri, Troy Bayliss, Carlos Checa, John Hopkins, Shinya Nakano, Ruben Xaus and Makoto Tamada are still uncertain as to their roles in MotoGP in 2005.

Sete Gibernau: According to Spanish newspaper, El Mundo Deportivo, the Spaniard has already singed a two-year contract with current sponsor, Telefonica-MovieStar and will remain on a Honda. It is reported, Honda has assured him an HRC-Spec V5 for 2005 and that he will get the same treatment as the Repsol-HRC riders. This is nothing new to HRC. They have done this, provided factory support to non-Repsol riders, in the past for riders such as Valentino Rossi, Daijiro Katoh and Tohru Ukawa. However, two of them were Japanese, and the other, well… was Rossi. However, these are only rumors and should be taken with a grain of salt. I am reminded of a similar announcement HRC made last year around the same time, in which they said all six Honda riders would receive HRC-Spec machines for 2004. The reality was they were not and did not provide all six riders factory bikes, but instead it was a strategy to strengthen their position against the possibility of Rossi leaving.

Max Biaggi: The Roman Emperor has been waiting for this opportunity all of his life, to be the number one rider at Repsol-Honda. According to, 2005 may be the year his wish comes true. Prior to the Malaysian GP, the rumor was that Biaggi would be sharing the Repsol garage with Hayden, who reportedly extended his stay at HRC for at least one more year. Based on his performance at Malaysia, it should come as no surprise if we see the current Camel-Honda rider in Repsol livery in 2005.

Marco Melandri: The former 250cc World Champion is rumored to be leaving Yamaha but to which team, no one is certain. The Italian has been linked to Honda and Ducati satellite teams. With only one race to go, we'll find out soon enough.

Troy Bayliss: The likable Australian and former BSB and WSBK Champion is out at Marlboro Ducati. Rumors are that Ducati has offered him a Corse ride in WSBK. While others say he may be going back to his old Ducati GSE team in Britain. However, the most recent rumor has him taking over Alex Hoffman's spot under the Kawasaki tent.

Carlos Checa: In less than a year, Rossi has scored more points and wins than all of his Yamaha teammates combined. Wise men would tell the Spaniard to retire while he still can, but he is Spaniard, and worth a lot in sponsorship money. Current rumors have him at Ducati Marlboro, replacing Bayliss, though he is rumored to have an option at Yamaha in the Tech 3 satellite team.

John Hopkins: The American has had one of the best/worst seasons. At the start of 2004 he broke his ankles while racing in a charity motocross event. It took him months to come up to speed, which proved very expensive to him and his team. However, as the year has progressed, the young-gun, has impressed many in the paddock, not only with his confidence, but his results. At Motegi he qualified second fastest and held provisional pole position. In addition, he's also been seen fighting for top-5 places in races, something no one thought possible on the Suzuki. His talent, youth and recent results have helped Hopkins to be linked to Ducati Marlboro, as replacement to Bayliss. In addition, there is word he's been offered an extension by Suzuki.

Shinya Nakano: The current number one rider at Kawasaki though not rumored to be leaving the green team, does have an option in his contract that would allow him to do so. However, it is not likely the number 56 will be allowed to leave Kawasaki, especially with his performances as of late.

Ruben Xaus: The rookie of the year has lots of options for 2005. Unlike his teammate, Neil Hodgson who is certain to be going to team up with Eric Bostrom on an Austin Ducati SuperBike, Xaus will stay in MotoGP. The lanky Spaniard is said to have the option to stay at D'Antin Ducati, or take a Honda or Yamaha satellite ride at Telefonica or Tec3.

Makoto Tamada: The flying Japanese has been linked, along with Biaggi to the HRC-Repsol ride. Honda would like nothing more than to have a Japanese MotoGP champion and who better than two-time MotoGP winner Makoto Tamada. However, recent news about Biaggi indicates the HRC-Repsol garage may already be full.

The music should stop after Sunday's race, within in a few days we should know who got a MotoGP chair.

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Max Biaggi , Carlos Checa , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Troy Bayliss , Colin Edwards , Tohru Ukawa , Sete Gibernau , Shinya Nakano , Daijiro Kato , John Hopkins , Eric Bostrom , Neil Hodgson , Ruben Xaus , Makoto Tamada , Marco Melandri