Racing is yet to get underway this season but already one of the main talking points is where the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mates will be in 2017.
After being with the satellite Yamaha team for five seasons, joining them in Moto2 for two seasons before making the step up to MotoGP, Bradley Smith was hoping to make the traditional step up into a factory ride with Yamaha.
However with Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi seemingly happy aboard the Movistar Yamaha M1’s this season and showing no signs of slowing down, it doesn’t look as if they’ll be space for the Brit to take a seat next year.
Add in the factor of the Monster Tech 3 team’s plan to become a feeder and a platform for young riders, it was announced this week that there would be no space for Smith in 2017 at Tech 3; something he reiterated on his blog before racing action got underway.
Smith wrote: “This is the first time I’ve started the season in a situation where it looks almost certain I will be switching teams next year. I‘ve been with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team for five years, and after this year my fourth with them in MotoGP, it looks like it’s time to move on for both parties. I’ve had an absolutely brilliant time with them but Team boss Herve Poncharal has made it clear he will not be renewing next year, however well I do. Tech3 is used by Yamaha to bring on young talent and I’m going to be 26 by the end of this season and much as I’d like to be I’m no longer fast young talent.
It’s a scary situation but it’s the way of the MotoGP paddock and gives me even more motivation not that I needed it.”
Despite this announcement from Smith, after speaking to crash.net it seems that team manager Herve Poncheral explains he spoke to the 25 year old earlier in the year about how important 2016 will be for his future. Poncheral insists he warned Smith he ‘might not’ have a seat in the team.
Poncheral went on to add that no decisions have been made for 2017, that it will largely depend on results for the riders and no one else has signed for next season.
In a similar situation to Smith, team-mate Pol Espargaro has said he was also told that he won’t be riding for Tech 3 next season, which was revealed by MCN on Wednesday. Again, with the plan to have the team as a feeder system for young riders to the factory team.
Despite this news it may be slightly different for the Spaniard due to the fact his contract is directly with Yamaha.
Whatever happens its clear that there will be even more pressure on the Tech 3 duo to perform in 2016, to impress both their team and sponsors and with career best results of 2nd for Smith and a 4th position for Espargaro.