Only the second of 19 races, but the rumour mill was spinning in Argentina, with top factory rides yet to be confirmed at Honda and Ducati; several top riders still with floating votes; and the satellite Yamahas still looking for home to replace the departing Tech 3 squad.
The two key riders at this point are Andrea Dovizioso and Johan Zarco.
According to Ducati’s Davide Tardozzi, discussions with Dovi’s management had reached the stage “of confirming the details”; but it is thought that their initial offer has not been accepted. The rider remained tight-lipped when faced with a direct question. “When I receive Ducati’s proposal, then I will decide,” he said.
Zarco’s name has been linked with Repsol Honda, and he has described this as “a dream”. But with his all-French Tech 3 team moving to KTM, the promise of full factory support might tempt him to stay where he feels confident, while accepting the greater novelty of the challenge. A decision is expected early in the fast-approaching European season.
Moving to Honda would mean replacing long-serving factory teamster Dani Pedrosa; and there is speculation also that Honda might try to tempt Jorge Lorenzo to join incumbent Marc Marquez. At the same time, Pedrosa remains in strong form, and there may be no reason not to keep him.
Another team potentially shopping for talent is Suzuki, with current rider Andrea Iannone needing to prove his worth alongside the promising Spaniard Alex Rins. Suzuki is known to be interested in the experienced Pedrosa as well as Dovizioso; while the sweet-handling chassis would also make a good marriage with Lorenzo’s precise riding style.
Yamaha meanwhile need to find a partner to replace Tech 3. The current favourite appears to be the Marc VDS team, running low-grade satellite Hondas.