Yamaha has announced that it is parting company with the French run Tech3 MotoGP outfit at the end of this season, paving the way for Valentino Rossi’s VR46 squad to move up to the premier class with Yamaha equipment from 2019.
Tech3 made the revelation, with boss Herve Poncheral stating that they would be ending their 20 year arrangement with the Japanese manufacturer in order to take up ‘a deal that we’ve been waiting for almost since we started Tech3’.
Poncheral has yet to announce what that deal is, however the Frenchman is passionate about developing young talent and it could be that Tech3 will take on a role with a manufacturer like KTM. The Austrian manufacturer has made no secret of its desire to bring riders through from the Red Bull Rookies, through to Moto3, Moto2 and ultimately MotoGP, making Tech3 a perfect partner.
Grid slots are strictly limited in the MotoGP class, with two of the 22 places allocated to Tech3, although championship boss Carmelo Ezpeleta has previously been quoted as saying that he would only extend the grid should Rossi wish to run a team. Each team costs championship organisers Dorna several million Euros each year in travel expenses, however with Rossi still a major draw, it is a fair assumption that the arrival of his team in the series would be positive for the championship and the next best thing to him actually riding. The Italian’s VR46 squad runs in Moto2 and Moto3 and has expressed a desire to enter the top class with long term partners Yamaha. With the Japanese brand no longer supplying bikes to Tech3, they would have capacity to provide support to VR46, should Rossi be able to secure some grid slots.
Speaking at the announcement, Poncheral told the press: “To summarize 20 years of an incredible partnership between Tech3 and Yamaha in a few words is a very difficult mission. Since I first met Mr. Iio in 1998, where he gave me the opportunity to join Yamaha Motor Corporation, it has been an extraordinary journey together. All I remember are fantastic memories, great results, an awesome atmosphere and astonishing feelings we shared with the Yamaha family, which will always be in my mind and in my heart. Clearly, to end that kind of partnership is a big decision for me. All I want to say is more than a huge thank you to Yamaha, plus all the guys that have been supporting and helping us. 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. One more time a huge thank you for Yamaha’s support. I hope they can carry on and have the success they deserve and eventually find a partner to replace Tech3.”
Yamaha Motorsports boss Kouichi Tsuji confirmed that he would be looking at potential partners for 2019, adding: “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. 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. The end of such a successful partnership is always a bit sad, as it also marks the end of a long-term relationship. We are very grateful for Hervé’s loyalty and support to the Yamaha brand and for the excellent results obtained throughout that time. We will continue to provide our full support to the Tech3 team and their riders throughout the 2018 season, while we simultaneously evaluate our options for an alternative team in the MotoGP World Championship class for 2019 and beyond.”
Tech3 won the 2000 250cc world championship with French rider Olivier Jacque on a Yamaha YZR250, before moving to the 500cc class the following season. Although never able to win a race on their second tier Yamahas, the squad earned a reputation as one of the leading independent teams and scored a best result of second at the 2013 German Grand Prix, with Cal Crutchlow riding.