Again, in 2024 there will continue to be 22 bikes on the MotoGP starting grid. Many, especially KTM that could use an extra seat for Pedro Acosta, are coveting the two places vacated last year by Suzuki but the championship top brass are adamant on their decision to assign the two slots to a manufacturer.
"The ideal scenario would be 24 bikes. Six manufacturers, each with a satellite team," commented IRTA president Hervé Poncharal, explaining the situation to our colleagues at Motorsport-Total.com. Since there are already six satellite teams, compared to five official teams, the MotoGP organizers do not want to undermine the balance on track even further, thus losing the possibility of seeing a new factory team make its debut in the future.
"Manufacturers that would be eligible are BMW and Kawasaki. These are the only manufacturers that have the know-how and the power to come. Triumph says they are not ready and are happy with Moto2. Maybe Suzuki wants to come back too. Who knows?” continued the Frenchman. “So these two places are reserved for that. If you were to give it to another satellite team, it would mean closing the opportunity for another manufacturer. When you start breaking the rules, you create a lot of uncertainty."
The duration of the commitment required to be able to take over the two places on the grid, which require a long-term project, tips the balance towards a manufacturer.
“You can't give a place for a year. That would cause a lot of problems. Let's take the example of Acosta and KTM. You would give a manufacturer another value. That would also reduce the value of the other satellite teams - said the boss of the Tech 3 team – Building a MotoGP team is not easy. If you were to do that, you would say you wouldn't do it for a year. The investment would be too big. It takes at least five years."
In a scenario that aims to bring balance to the starting grid, the current disproportion relating to satellite teams raises some concerns. While Ducati can count on as many as three partners, KTM, Aprilia and Honda have in fact only one satellite team each, with Yamaha sensationally left without other teams after the separation from the RNF team.
"I love freedom and the free market. Some people say that eight Ducatis are too many and they kill the championship. Each satellite team can choose what they want. You can't prescribe that. Gresini was made an offer by Aprilia, but they wanted to join Ducati. Some people say that VR46 should switch to Yamaha. But you should only ask Bezzecchi and Marini. Do they want to switch?" commented Poncharal.
After all, from his experience as head of the Tech 3 team, the French manager is well aware of the reasons with which a satellite team chooses its supplier.
"I was with Yamaha for 20 years. When I switched, I liked the attitude of Stefan Pierer, Hubert Trunkenpolz, Pit Beirer and so on. Yes, their bike wasn't that competitive. I switched because I wanted to work with these people. They wanted to have a satellite team and fully support it – he explained - This is important for them. Gresini, VR46 and Pramac are with Ducati because it was the best deal they could get in terms of performance and support."