British rookie Bradley Smith has a contract with Tech 3 Yamaha through 2014, but speculation continues that he could pushed out to make way for Moto2 standout Pol Espargaro alongside Cal Crutchlow next season. Crutchlow set his first pole at Assen and again finished on the podium.
It's widely believed Yamaha has signed Espargaro to a contract for next season, with the probable intent of placing him with Tech 3 because Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi both have contracts with Yamaha Factory Racing through 2014.
But Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal also has made no secret of his desire to keep Crutchlow, who is out of contract after this season. But it's believed Crutchlow is insisting on getting a factory bike if he's going to stay at Tech 3. Crutchlow also is rumored to be negotiating with Ducati for a factory seat in 2014 despite being jilted last July by the Italian manufacturer late into contract talks for this season.
If Crutchlow stays at Tech 3 and Yamaha wants to place Espargaro with Poncharal's team, Smith could be the kid left without a chair when the music stops.
Complicating matters is that Brits Crutchlow and Smith both are represented by the same agents, American firm Wasserman Media Group represents both riders. Crutchlow is the established item, fourth in the standings this season with two podium finishes. Smith is a promising rookie but only 11th in the standings with a best finish of sixth at Catalunya.
"It is true that I have a contract, and it is true that there is a lot of talking," Smith told British media. "What else can I say? As far as I am aware, my management company WMG are happy with everything that is going on. The Yamaha people believe in me, and I am hoping for my results to improve.
"There is always going to be a difficult situation with the amount of riders that are in our team and the amount of riders that are supposed to be going in our team. Right now I have a contract, and right now Yamaha haven't said anything to me, and they are happy with my performance. Obviously we are all trying to improve my results, but I am looking to be in the same team for 2014."
Smith performed admirably at Assen. He rode there only a week after undergoing surgery to repair a broken wrist and place a skin graft on his left pinky finger, which was ground to a pulp in a crash earlier this month at Mugello.