LCR Honda team principal Lucio Cecchinello wants to see more recognition for the top satellite rider in each MotoGP race, but stops short of calling for a separate world championship.
The last satellite rider to win a MotoGP race was Toni Elias, who took a thrilling victory over Valentino Rossi at the 2006 Portuguese Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the 990cc era.
But since the switch to 800cc competition, factory riders have won all 36 races, claimed 97 of the 108 podium places and all but one pole position - making it difficult, Cecchinello believes, for satellite teams to get the recognition needed to reward sponsors and attract new funding.
“More recognition for the satellite teams is something under discussion. We are not so positive about having a 'B ranking' world championship, but I would consider some kind of prize - like a trophy - which is given to the top satellite team manager and rider to show what they have achieved,” said Cecchinello, during an exclusive interview with Crash.net
“We [as a satellite team] are a smaller organisation fighting against bigger organisations [factory teams] and a smaller budget against bigger budgets. To make a competitive programme against the factory teams takes a lot of effort, a lot of skill. So, I believe that the top satellite rider - who will probably finish fourth, fifth or sixth in a race - must have some kind of recognition.
“Only a trophy, nothing else,” repeated the Italian, a seven time 125GP race winner who called time on his own racing career at the end of 2003. “Just like you already give a trophy to the winning team, and then maybe an interview with the rider on TV.”
Like Cecchinello, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta is also believed to be in favour of some kind of public award for the top satellite rider at each race, increasingly the likelihood of it happening.
Had a trophy been given to the top satellite rider last season then it would have gone to JiR Team Scot's Andrea Dovizioso and Tech 3's Colin Edwards six times each. Toni Elias and Alex de Angelis would have won it twice, with Shinya Nakano and James Toseland taking it once.
Cecchinello's rider Randy de Puniet, along with fellow Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli, would not have won the award... something both Cecchinello and de Puniet will aim to change should a trophy be introduced for 2009.
However, Tech 3's Herve Poncharal has doubts about the need for such an award.