Hervé Poncharal’s Monster Energy Tech3 team have announced that they will split from Yamaha at the end of the 2018 MotoGP season, ending a 20-year collaboration.
The news may come as surprise to many, given that the French team have become the sport’s premier satellite team over the past few seasons, however in a statement released this morning, Poncharal stated that he had received a deal that he couldn’t say no to. He said:
“Tech3 is a small company, which has to think about the future and has to weigh the different options. We‘ve been offered a deal, that includes something we‘ve been waiting for almost since we started with Tech3 and I couldn‘t say no. But obviously, we are the Monster Yamaha Team until the last lap of the Valencia GP 2018. Johann Zarco and Hafizh Syahrin will be fighting for top positions and without a doubt, Yamaha can count on us to be a loyal performant partner.”
It is not clear which manufacturer will replace Yamaha at Tech3, however it is common knowledge that both KTM and Suzuki are keen on having at least two bikes available for a satellite team in 2019. Aprilia may also be in the market for a satellite team.
Tech3 and Yamaha came together in 1999 in the 250cc World Championship, before expanding into the top class in 2001 with Shinya Nakano and 250cc champion Olivier Jacque. Since then, a number of top riders have been with the team, including Marco Melandri, Colin Edwards, James Toseland, Ben Spies, Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow.
During their time with Yamaha, the team have been known for bringing through new and exciting talent in MotoGP. A Tech3 rider has won the Rookie of the Year award on five occasions, with Johan Zarco picking up the accolade in 2017. Just this week, the team announced that Hafizh Syahrin would ride for the team this season following Jonas Folger’s decision to sit-out the year due to illness.
Speaking about their 20-year partnership with Yamaha, Poncharal said:
“To summarize 20 years of an incredible partnership between Tech3 and Yamaha in a few words is a very difficult mission. Since I first met Mr. Iio in 1998, where he gave me the opportunity to join Yamaha Motor Corporation, it has been an extraordinary journey together. All I remember are fantastic memories, great results, an awesome atmosphere and astonishing feelings we shared with the Yamaha family, which will always be in my mind and in my heart.
“Clearly, to end that kind of partnership is a big decision for me. All I want to say is more than a huge thank you to Yamaha, to Mr. Tsuji, Mr. Tsuya, Mr. Jarvis and Mr. Nakajima, plus all the guys that have been supporting and helping us. I hope they can carry on and have the success they deserve and eventually find a partner to replace Tech3.”
Tech3 will continue to compete in the Moto2 class as well as MotoGP, and will announce their plans for 2019 at a later date. Yamaha are now in the process of deciding whether they will run a satellite team next season, and if so, what form of collaboration that will be.