With defending MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner having announced his retirement at the end of the 2012, a seat became open on the coveted Respol Honda Racing Team.
Rumours suggest that former World Champion Jorge Lorenzo was being courted for the position, and that current Ducati Factory rider Valentino Rossi, might be also have been interested in returning to a Japanese squad. In the end however, it was Dani Pedrosa, who currently sits 2nd in the World Championship, who will extend his contract with his existing team.
According to Pedrosa, “I'm very happy to be able to announce my renewal with the Repsol Honda Team for the next two years. It's been a very long relationship with Honda and I had a strong desire to stay here. The fight for the Championship this year is still open and the next two seasons will be very interesting for me. My whole career has been linked to Honda, since I entered into the World Championship in 125cc, then in 250cc and since 2006 in MotoGP. I'm perhaps one of the riders with the longest history with Honda, which makes me feel very proud. I want to thank HRC once again for their support; I'm sure that we have great things to do together".
It was also no surprise that Moto2 superstar Marc Marquez, who currently leads the Moto2 series by 41 points clear of his closest rival, and who races for the Team CataluntaCalxa Repsol, would be moving to the Respol Honda factory team in 2013. With a recent decision to scrap the Rookie Rule, which precludes MotoGP newcomers from riding for factory teams in their MotoGP debut, it was almost a given that the talented Marquez would be moving to the premier Honda squad.
Marquez commented on the opportunity by stating, ““To reach MotoGP next season with Repsol Honda is a dream come true and I want to thank HRC for their confidence in me. I am very proud to be a part of the big Honda family for the future and I don’t want to forget all the people have helped me since I began to ride motorbikes. Now my focus is on Moto2 where my team and I are working very hard and we are excited to achieve our goal, which is to win the World Championship in 2012.”
With the Repsol Honda team set for the next two years, all eyes are now focused on the Factory Yamaha team. While former World Champion Jorge Lorenzo is expected to remain with the squad, it is uncertain if Ben Spies will remain as his teammate. Other riders currently being considered for the position, according to the rumour mill, are Valentino Rossi, Andrea Dovisiozo and Cal Crutchlow, as well as Ben Spies.