Andrea Dovizioso could be forced out of Honda’s factory MotoGP squad for 2011.
The Japanese factory looks certain to abandon plans to form a star-studded ‘super team’ with Honda struggling to attract investment to bankroll the three-pronged attack for next season.
HRC had intended to run Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and 2009 British GP winner Dovizioso together.
Senior management had been locked in talks with energy drink giant Red Bull about a new sponsorship deal to help fund the triple-headed attack.
But those talks appear to have collapsed and current long-term backers Repsol seem unwilling to commit extra budget to run a third RC212V machine.
The big loser looks like being Dovizioso, even though he has a clause in his contract that says if he’s in the top five in the rankings after Laguna Seca, he automatically get a factory contract.
He might now be moved to the satellite squad run by Fausto Gresini next season but with the assurance he’ll be on an identical machine to Stoner and Pedrosa.
HRC marketing director Livio Suppo said: “Red Bull are not interested in coming with two bikes. But we are still speaking to try and find a way to start working with them. Technically we can run a three-man team but it depends on the money we find.”
HRC Vice-President Shuhei Nakamoto admitted that without additional financial support it was hard to imagine a scenario where Honda could run a three-rider factory squad.
Asked whether he faced the predicament of telling Dovizioso he’d be relegated to a satellite squad, Nakamoto said: “We have started talking with Andrea but nothing is decided.”