Why the MotoGP satellite teams are so strong

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The MotoGP scene has been living off an extremely balanced field for several years. The result is often extremely exciting races. It is no longer just the classic factory teams who struggle for victories and podiums among themselves. The so-called satellite teams, which were once referred to as customer teams, have regularly been among the very best for a number of years.

“I think it’s important to mention that the satellite teams are now driving on a significantly higher level,” says Herve Poncharal, who, in addition to his role as Tech 3 team boss, is also chairman of the MotoGP team association IRTA.

“A decade ago we drove with them. At that time, however, the manufacturers viewed us as an additional burden on their shoulders,” remembers Poncharal of the time when the customer teams were more decorative accessories than serious competition in the field.

“The manufacturers had to deliver to us in order to get a decent starting field up and running. Most of the time, however, we got the parts that would otherwise have been sorted out. They said give us a little money for it, but do it your own thing. We’re the ones fighting for the world championship, “says Poncharal, whose Tech 3 racing team was a Yamaha customer team for years before working with KTM.

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Photo: Motorsport Images

For some years now, Tech 3 has not only been significantly more competitive than it was at the beginning of the MotoGP era. Today almost all satellite teams have official factory support. And something else is different: since 2016, the entire MotoGP field has been using standardized electronics from Magneti Marelli. In previous years it had been customary for every manufacturer with a MotoGP factory team to develop their own electronics.

In the six seasons since the introduction of standardized electronics, satellite teams have clinched 13 Grand Prix victories: Petronas-Yamaha won six times (Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli), LCR-Honda three times (Cal Crutchlow), Tech-3-KTM twice (Miguel Oliveira ), Marc-VDS-Honda once (Jack Miller) and Pramac-Ducati also once (Jorge Martin). In 2020, more than half of the then only 14 races of the season were won by satellite teams.

“Together with Dorna and the IRTA, pressure was exerted on the MSMA,” says Poncharal to the MotoGP manufacturers’ association and says: “This work was very productive. There are basically no satellite pilots and factory pilots anymore. Everyone is on the same level and most of the satellite pilots are directly under contract with the respective manufacturer. “

“This shows that all the work we have done over the past ten years has paid off,” says Poncharal on behalf of the team association IRTA. Postscript: “I no longer think it is crazy to believe that a driver from a satellite team can become world champion at any time.”

With images from Motorsport Images.

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