Having regularly watched their riders spray MotoGP podium champagne during 2012 and 2013, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 were left to settle for a single rostrum last season.
That was by Bradley Smith, who claimed his debut podium during his second year in the premier-class. However it was rookie team-mate Pol Espargaro who finished sixth on the standings, as the top satellite rider.
“The results were not as good as the year before. But you know as well as me that there was a major regulation change. We now have the Open class with different fuel capacity and different tyre choice,” Tech 3 team boss Herve Poncharal told Crash.net
“Clearly the Open class advantages - especially the softer tyre - made a difference in qualifying. And qualifying is more and more important for the race, where the first five or six laps are crucial.”
But Poncharal certainly doesn't begrudge Ducati's return to competitiveness.
“We took this decision for different classes in 2014 and 2015 because the manufacturers didn't agree to use the same electronics before 2016. It was also to give new factories, or the factories that were struggling a bit, the possibility to be closer to the front,” the Frenchman explained.
“I think everybody was quite happy to see Ducati almost reborn in 2014. To see a smile on Dovi's face again and occasionally for Cal, Andrea and Yonny. This was good. It is also good to help Suzuki and Aprilia for their comeback season.”
Poncharal was also quick to admit that his riders need to make more of what they have available.
“We know that the Factory Yamaha team have almost the same spec bike as us and Rossi and Lorenzo managed to be at the front with Marquez and Pedrosa. So we can say what we want about the [Open] technical rules, but we are not using our package at 100%.”
Nevertheless, Poncharal knows that the Open class opposition will be significantly stronger in 2015.
“Last year there was only one strong Open bike. In 2015 for sure the Yamaha Open bike will again be very close to our bike and 'dangerous' in terms of competition. But now Honda has also changed their view of the Open class and have done what Yamaha did.
“So there will be a lot of competitive bikes: The Open Hondas and Yamahas will be very strong, Ducati is going to be stronger, plus the eight full Factory bikes - not including Aprilia who might need more time.
“For us it is going to be difficult, but as we say in France 'there is no fun if there is no fight'. Hopefully there will be plenty of fight and fun this year!”
One rider with plenty of fight is Honda's reigning double world champion Marc Marquez.
“As we've seen on the racetrack, Marc is an animal. Marc is a machine. Like Vale in the past, Marc has set some new reference,” Poncharal said. “I would love to see Yamaha winning in 2015. It is possible. Both Vale and Jorge have got a chance. But if you asked me to put some money, Marc will be very difficult to beat.”
Looking further ahead, Poncharal believes the revised 2016 MotoGP technical rules will allow the satellite teams to fight for their first victory since 2006 - if they have a top rider.
“From 2016 almost everyone on the grid will, on paper, have a winning technical package, as is the case now in Moto2 and Moto3. There will finally be the possibility to come back to the old days when satellite teams could win MotoGP races - and why not championships?”
to read the full interview with Herve Poncharal...