MotoGP privateer team Tech 3 has announced that it will cut ties with Yamaha at the end of the 2018 season, ending a 20 year partnership with the manufacturer – 18 of which were in the series’ premium class.
Herve Poncharal's team, which has run Yamahas since its premier-class debut in 2001, made clear it has secured a new partner for 2019 but did not specify the manufacturer. Suzuki and KTM are both known to be keen on making at least two bikes available for a satellite team for 2019, while Aprilia could also be on the market for a customer squad deal.
Currently, there are eight Ducatis, six Honda and four Yamahas competing in MotoGP, while KTM, Suzuki and Aprilia field two works bikes each.
"Tech 3 is a small company, which has to think about the future and has to weigh the different options," Poncharal said.
"We've been offered a deal, that includes something we've been waiting for almost since we started with Tech 3 and I couldn't say no. But obviously, we are the Monster Yamaha Team until the last lap of the Valencia GP 2018.”
Before his team's split with Yamaha was made official, Poncharal said the firm had made clear to him that Valentino Rossi's VR46 operation would get priority over Tech 3 as the Yamaha satellite outfit should Rossi decide to enter a team in the premier class.
But it is understood that a MotoGP move for VR46 is not imminent.
Yamaha's motorsport general manager Kouichi Tsuji underlined that the decision to part was made by Tech 3. "Very recently we were informed by Herve Poncharal, the owner of Tech 3, that he has decided not to extend his contract with Yamaha to lease YZR-M1 bikes," he said.
"After discussions with Herve 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 Herve'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 Tech 3 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."
Tech 3 goes into the new season running Johann Zarco and Moto2 graduate Hafizh Syahrin, a late replacement for the illness-sidelined Jonas Folger. While Yamaha's factory team has endured a frustrating MotoGP pre-season so far, Zarco has had a largely trouble-free winter and been among the frontrunners in testing at both Sepang and Buriram.
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