The Pramac Ducati team had a chance to make a bold, interesting choice to replace the injured Hector Barbera for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix this Sunday at Laguna Seca and instead opted for the safe, good-old-boys' network.
Pramac picked MotoGP and Moto2 castoff Toni Elias to ride its satellite GP12 after Barbera suffered a broken left fibula and tibia last weekend in a motocross training accident. Barbera is expected to miss four to six weeks, which puts his participation in the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 19 at Indianapolis also in doubt.
Elias rode for Pramac in 2008, earning MotoGP podiums at Brno and Misano. That was just two years after his only victory in the premier class, by .002 of a second over Valentino Rossi in 2006 at Estoril aboard a Gresini Honda.
But Elias is a shell of that swashbuckling Spaniard. He dropped to Moto2 in 2010 and won that intermediate class' inaugural World Championship. But he was completely lost in his return to MotoGP in 2011, finishing 15th in the standings on an LCR Honda.
Elias returned to Moto2 this season and was 15th in the championship for Aspar when he and the team parted company last week, citing Elias' inability to come to grips with a Suter chassis.
No question Elias' MotoGP experience, especially with Bridgestone tires, and his availability made him a ready choice for Pramac.
But Pramac could have, and should have, shown a touch of smarts by promoting its reserve rider, American Kenny Noyes, to the seat for at least Laguna and possibly Indianapolis. Noyes is racing this year in the CEV Moto2 championship in Spain, which is on summer break until early September.
Did anyone at Pramac check the calendar and see that the next two races take place in Noyes' native America? Did anyone look at his bio and realize he was raised in California, the same state as Laguna?
Did anyone at Pramac have a clue that it might get more media and fan attention at Laguna than any satellite team other than maybe Tech 3 if Noyes was in the seat? California kid makes MotoGP debut in California?
And isn't a reserve rider supposed to be called upon when the team's race rider is unable to compete? It's not like Noyes has zero experience in a Grand Prix paddock. He raced in Moto2 in 2010 and 2011, with one pole.
Pramac even went to the point to call Noyes about sizes for leathers after Barbera was hurt. Then the team changed its course and chose Elias.
No guts, no glory, Pramac.