Having given an insight into Tech 3's Moto2 project (see previous story), Herve Poncharal then discussed his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 MotoGP team - including the future of riders Colin Edwards and James Toseland.

Finally Poncharal, who is also president of IRTA, spoke about how engine leasing could change the premier-class...

Crash.net:
I believe that Colin Edwards now has an offer from you for 2010?

Herve Poncharal:
Colin was told, and I was told, at Indy by Furusawa that Yamaha has been supporting his contract and salary - a 'soft landing' they call it - for two years, 2008 and 2009.

But because of the economic environment at the moment, especially for motorcycle makers, Yamaha have made it very clear that they cannot do that any more. That is very understandable and we are an independent team so my riders should talk to me [about contracts].

Anyway, Colin is a priority, he is Yamaha's number one choice for my bike and I made him an offer. It is now up to him to study it and come back to me.

In Misano it was quite positive and I think it is very likely we can do another year together.

On the other bike the mystery is as thick as ever and I would prefer to wait a little bit before talking about the other bike because a lot of things are linked to that bike. It can be a lot of people on that bike.

Crash.net:
In the past I think you've had, in terms of contracts, a 'Yamaha rider' on one bike and a 'Tech 3 rider' on the other bike, is that now changing?

Herve Poncharal:
That was the situation in the past, but it is not 100 percent sure that that situation will continue in 2010.

I am just waiting a bit. We work quite closely with Yamaha and we are trying to see what is the best possibility.

I also work with Carmelo [Ezpeleta, Dorna]. I am a Yamaha MotoGP team, so I am very close to Yamaha, but I also have to talk and work with Carmelo to see what is best for the championship.

All together Yamaha, Tech 3 and Dorna are trying to see what is best for the championship and what is best for Tech 3.

Crash.net:
Is there any chance of Ben Spies being on the bike next year?

Herve Poncharal:
That is a question I absolutely cannot answer! I would like to, but I have got no relationship with Ben. Ben has signed a contract with Yamaha Japan for the next two seasons. This we know for sure and on the release we saw 2010 Superbike and 2011 MotoGP. I guess there is a small theoretical possibility he could be here if the second seat is still open, but that would be a decision for Yamaha and Ben together. Not me.

Crash.net:
It has been difficult for James...

Herve Poncharal:
It won't be easy for next year. This year was difficult for him, difficult for us. Disappointing for him, disappointing for us. Race after race. I thought Brno would be better, it was not better. I thought Indy would be better, it was not really better.

I thought Misano would be better because you see, like de Angelis and Elias, when you don't have a job you just want to push more and more. I know James is pushing and motivated, but so far he couldn't deliver the results he thinks he can.

But nothing is finished, nothing is sure.

Crash.net:
Do you think James has ever really got comfortable with the '09 Yamaha and Bridgestone tyres?

Herve Poncharal:
It is difficult for me to explain what is happening, because even James cannot really explain. But if you look from the outside he has never been feeling comfortable enough to show his full potential.

So does that mean he is not comfortable with the bike, or the other technical components, or the tyres? I don't know.

Last year he was thinking 'Michelin is well behind Bridgestone and when I am on Bridgestone I will set the world on fire'. Same thing with the crew chief. He got the crew chief and the tyres. It didn't work and he was disappointed for sure because he was expecting a lot.

We know the Bridgestone needs a different riding technique, but I don't know if it's that or if it is just that 800cc needs a special riding style that he still doesn't understand.

On the other hand when you see Espargaro come from nowhere and set the fifth fastest lap of the race [at Misano, his second MotoGP event] do you really need ten years to show your potential?

Crash.net:
Turning to your role as IRTA president, how are things looking in terms of the 2010 grid?

Herve Poncharal:
We know that there will be the same number of bikes available, which means 17 minimum. But we know also that manufacturers will make an announcement at Estoril [October 4]. They have taken the decision to lease engines. 800cc prototype engines.

So will have to wait and see how many they can supply, from when and at what cost. For sure that will help the grid to be bigger and the target for the next two years is to reach 20-22.

Crash.net:
So the grid will then have full Factory teams, Satellite teams running full bikes of a slightly lower spec and also Independent teams running engines in their own chassis?

Herve Poncharal:
You know, Satellite teams are Independent teams. When you see how popular Moto2 is, and if the economic situation is not improving, then if Yamaha is in the future prepared to lease engines then I will have to talk to them about that. If it's better for them to lease engines only, and better for us financially.

Because that engine would be exactly the same spec as we have now and with the experience we are gaining from our Moto2 project, and investment we are making in new equipment to build the Moto2 chassis, it is a similar cost and challenge for MotoGP.

If you can build a good Moto2 chassis, there is no reason why you cannot build a good MotoGP chassis.

So some teams will have a full factory lease [as the satellite teams have now] and some will lease only engines. But it does not mean that the teams who lease only the engines will necessarily be behind the teams with a full factory lease.

Crash.net:
And the engine lease will begin in 2011?

Herve Poncharal:
Wait for Estoril. Some factories might say from 2011 only, some might say why not do it in 2010. But if it is available from 2010 will there be anybody who has the financial capacity and the time to build a chassis? Let's wait and see.