Hervé Poncharal believes either Johann Zarco or Alex Rins would be the ideal replacement for Pol Espargaro at Tech 3 Yamaha's MotoGP
The boss of the Monster-backed satellite Yamaha squad, Poncharal described himself as “not a very happy team manager” as he learned of Espargaro's defection to the factory KTM squad at the end of the current season. The Spaniard will follow in the footsteps of present Tech 3 team-mate Bradley Smith.
Espargaro's decision leaves Poncharal searching for an adequate replacement to partner rookie Jonas Folger, who has already signed to race in Tech 3 colours in 2017.
Speaking to the paddock media on Thursday afternoon in Montmeló, Poncharal explained how he now has a choice between fielding a second premier-class rookie, or a more experienced name like Cal Crutchlow, who rode for the squad for three years between 2011 to 2013.
“You know as much as me about who is still available. You know their profile. Clearly either we go for a very young, inexperienced Moto 2 rider - which is going to be question mark as I said, which we will see.
“It could be good, it could be a disaster. It could be difficult. Or [we] go for an established MotoGP rider like Cal [Crutchlow]. But although we cannot be called a rookie team anymore because of the reason I told you I think it doesn't make really sense to take somebody who's been with us.
"I love Cal and he knows and you all know. He's doing different things with different brands and what is the story to come back here?
“We are here to prepare the future. We are here to work on something exciting. Yamaha Tech 3 everything as we already said. If you take somebody younger at least you have some new stories to write, to talk. You have maybe if it looks a bit strange choice at least you have some hope that things can work the right way.
“There are not too many names left. If we are saying we want to get young riders instead of established MotoGP riders, the two best profile candidates available for us are Alex Rins and Johann Zarco. We are talking to both of them right now.”
While Poncharal claimed Rins had the perfect profile for his team, he appeared nonplussed at the Moto2 title contender's demands for a seat in a factory team, which the Frenchman believes shows a worrying trend for satellite team bosses.
“Alex Rins is a good example. You've been writing and we've been reading in the newspaper and the websites, been watching some interview on MotoGP.com recently where he said, 'I want to find a ride'. He would be a very exciting prospect for us. He's got the same title sponsor, which is Monster. So it makes sense.
“But when he sees who is on the Factory Yamaha, somebody who joined Suzuki [Maverick Vinales] and has been offered the deal. So is the best route to go through Tech 3 to have the Factory Yamaha? It doesn't look like at the moment. I even read a comment from his dad that I found a little bit, not shocking, but I was shocked, where he said, 'if we can't get a factory ride in MotoGP next year, we'd better do a third year in Moto2'.
“So it means it's better to do a third year in Moto2 than come to LCR or Tech 3... So for the young talented riders, who are the ones we need to have to do results and who the sponsors want to have with them, at the moment we are not too popular. Not us only, I mean the independent teams altogether.”
Poncharal's comments suggest Zarco is his main target, in spite of the current Moto2 world champion's agreement with Suzuki to test its MotoGP machine this summer.