Tech3 Yamaha team boss Herve Poncheral admits he is struggling to replace Jonas Folger.
The German rider pulled out of the world championship to recover from illness which caused him to miss the end of last season. With most riders contracted for 2018 already, finding a replacement is proving difficult.
Tech3 have previously stated that they will not poach a rider currentl y under contract. The only exception to this rule is if they can prove their existing team has a replacement lined up.
Speaking to the gathered media at the Sepang test, Poncharal outlined the struggles to replace Folger. The Frenchman had previously stated that his desire was to have a replacement signed in time for the second test in Thailand. With two weeks until that begins, there remains no clear favourite.
Several names are considerations for the spot, including Michele Pirro, Hafizh Syahrin and Sepang test rider Yonny Hernandez.
There are issues with each of those options as Pirro remains pivotal to Ducati, and both Syahrin and Hernandez are under contract for 2018. Poncharal has also stated that he has a lot of respect for Ducati to aggressively purse Pirro.
With time running out before the start of the season, Tech3 face a real struggle to sign a rider. Any new rider will have to get used to the bike and team before being in a position to challenge.
“Unfortunately, we are in late January. Most of the good riders are signed, Superbike, Moto2, they are signed. I think there is only one rider who is completely free, Sandro Cortese [who lost his Kiefer Racing Moto2 ride when the team hit financial trouble]. So the list is very short. Of course without lacking respect to anyone, this is an M1, this M1 was on the podium last year. We know the level, we need to be able offer all our partners something that is quite exciting. There are some riders that are calling us, but unfortunately we don’t want to be on the grid just to be on the grid. We would like to have something that is exciting. In an ideal world, I would’ve loved a young Moto2 rider. But they also have contracts. At the moment, I am struggling to find something that is exciting