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Rider roundabout in full swing in MotoGP

Rider roundabout in full swing in MotoGP

Comparatively normal by previous seasons standards, the summer break has arrived with 12 riders still unclear as to for whom they will ride in 2008.

Comparatively normal by previous seasons standards, the summer break has arrived with 12 riders still unclear as to for whom they will ride in 2008. This year has seen a number of early moves which, although they may have happened in seasons past, have rarely been announced so far in advance.

The trigger for the numerous switches in teams was the first confirmed deal of the year, that of John Hopkins parting ways with Suzuki and moving to Kawasaki for a new challenge. This has set the wheels in motion for a frantic signing up process, with more moves confirmed by various teams. Marco Melandris long-rumoured switch to Ducati finally came to fruition at Laguna Seca, making him the second rider currently in MotoGP to change rides for 2008.

Additional arrivals Jorge Lorenzo and James Toseland are sure to fuel the rider roundabout yet further, with the latter in particular most probably leaving either Makoto Tamada or Sylvain Guintoli assessing their options in Yamaha Tech 3.

Those who can rest easy concentrating on the task at hand are some of MotoGPs big guns, including the top two in the World Championship standings. Ducati have wisely extended their deal with Casey Stoner for the next two seasons, whilst five time champion Valentino Rossi also has his future with Yamaha secured. Nicky Hayden still has a year on his Honda contract. Chris Vermeulen rejected offers to leave Suzuki, and will continue with Paul Dennings outfit as they continue to improve their results.

The big question marks surround two riders known to have held talks with other teams, with both having assessed the possibility of joining Vermeulen in blue next year. Loris Capirossi is unlikely to wait on a decision by Ducati to run three bikes, and has been locked in negotiations with Suzuki and Kawasaki over the past few months. Manager Carlos Pernat has been one of the busiest men in the paddock as he touts the services of the former 250cc World Champion looking for a change in the twilight of his career. Dani Pedrosa is also thought to have spoken with Suzuki, although a move away from Honda seems unlikely given his long history with the Japanese factory.

Kawasaki could yet run a three rider team next season after success at Laguna Seca, meaning that Randy de Puniet and Anthony West could still be team-mates alongside John Hopkins. The Frenchmans option for 2008 passed its deadline last month, but the 25 year-old is still in the frame for a spot in Team Green, whilst West has impressed management with his performances since replacing Olivier Jacque at Donington Park.

Numerous other riders will have to wait on decisions, including experienced veterans Colin Edwards and Alex Barros, indicating that even those out of the running for the title still have every reason to perform after the summer break.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2007

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