It appears that Spanish promotional company Dorna Sports is changing the "Ben Spies is an American Rule" to the "Marc Marquez is a Repsol-Backed Spaniard Rule" and eliminating the regulation prohibiting MotoGP rookies from riding on factory teams, starting next season.
Both Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta and IRTA secretary Mike Trimby told media last weekend and Silverstone about the decision to drop the Rookie Rule. The announcement probably will be made along with other rules changes later this month during TT Assen.
Moto2 points leader Marquez is the next big Spanish thing in MotoGP, following Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa as a "can't miss" prospect for the premier class. Marquez also has Repsol backing, and it's believed both the Spanish petroleum giant and Honda want Marquez placed straight into a factory Repsol Honda ride next season.
Enforcing the Rookie Rule for Marquez next season would create a big commercial snag, too. Repsol stays with Marquez wherever he goes, so LCR Honda would need to bid farewell to oil sponsor ELF and Gresini Honda would need to say ciao to oil sponsor Castrol to put Marquez on its respective motorcycles in 2013. That's a big price to pay for one year of Marquez before he leaves for a factory team.
But Italian media reported Dorna may extract a concession from Honda for allowing Marquez to jump right into the factory squad - agreeing to a rev limit in the upcoming technical regulations, a pet project of Ezpeleta.
Dorna and IRTA created the Rookie Rule in 2010 as Spies prepared to jump from winning the World Superbike title as a rookie into MotoGP. He was widely tipped to move straight into the factory team, but this rule forced him to serve a one-year apprenticeship at Tech 3 before a promotion to Yamaha Factory Racing in 2011.
But the Rookie Rule was largely toothless, anyway.
Alvaro Bautista was allowed to jump straight into the Suzuki factory team in 2010 from 250cc. But that decision had little to do with any preferential treatment of Bautista as a fair-haired Dorna boy and everything to do with keeping Suzuki in the championship since the manufacturer had no satellite teams and was threatening to leave the series.
Honda circumvented the rule by putting Marco Simoncelli on a factory RC212V for the satellite Gresini team during his rookie season in 2010.