With four rounds of the 2017 season remaining Pieter Breddels, the long-term Technical Manager in the Red Bull Honda team, has left his position – seemingly a victim of the incredibly tough season with the new Honda Fireblade.
Having been part of the Dutch Ten Kate squad for so many years his leaving has had in immediate impact on a paddock he was an integral part of, as Red Bull Honda team manager Ronald Ten Kate explained at Portimao.
“Pieter has been with us since 2004,” said RTK, “and it has been an extremely difficult season of course for us. Maybe even especially for Pieter as the technical manager of the team. He has had a big re-think about his future, professionally and privately and he decided to leave the team. The starting point came from him, in the end.”
After such a desperately difficult season, with the best single result a sixth place for Stefan Bradl, it seems obvious that there was - and is - going to be some kind of re-organisation for 2018. “We are re-thinking the structure for next year, anyway, just the working method and how to drive development,” said RTK.
The exit of Breddels has led to a shift in personnel line-up at Portimao, with Stefan Bradl now joined in the garage by the late Nicky Hayden’s crew chief Dino Acocella, data engineer Massimo Neri and their entire crew of mechanics. Takumi Takahashi will now take over all of Bradl’s previous crew.
For now there will be no like-for-like replacement for Breddlels, but Bastiaan Huisjes will be in overall charge of the technical side of things.
“It is not a complete taking over Peter’s tasks because next year’s plan was anyway to rethink his position, and the working method. So, Bastiaan Huisjes has taken over here. He is currently the R&D support engineer of the team, so he is the most-equipped guy to look after the technical matters.”
In terms of 2018 rider line-up it is all still to be decided according to RTK. “For next year the positions are still open. Bastiaan seems to be the logical choice. For the riders there are two places available for next season, two positions open. There are ongoing talks with riders but there is nothing confirmed at this point.”
For the rest of this season, three-time Suzuka 8-Hours winner Takumi Takahashi will ride not only this round in Portugal but also at Jerez, with Davide Giugliano taking the other Red Bull Honda seat alongside Bradl at Magny Cours and Losail.
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