PBM Selling MotoGP Grid Slots, Focusing On BSB
The PBM Team is set to leave MotoGP at the end of the 2014 season, and return to the British Superbike championship. Owner of the eponymous team Paul Bird has decided to expand his presence in BSB to add a second team, and withdraw from MotoGP altogether.
Bird spoke to both the British publication MCN and the German-language website Speedweek about his reasons for switching to BSB. Most of the backing for the PBM team comes from British sponsors, such as Rapid Solicitors. Bird told MCN that their sponsors would rather see PBM in BSB, as a British team with British sponsors. But Bird also mentioned to Speedweek the difficulties of competing in MotoGP as a private team. Those problems had been there in 2012, when PBM first joined MotoGP, but the situation is worse now. Without factory backing, it was impossible to be competitive, he said.
There is also a financial motive for leaving. With both Suzuki and Aprilia joining MotoGP in 2015, grid slots are at a premium. Bird had tried to sell his grid slots for this season in 2013, without much success. At the time, he was rumored to be asking for 3 million euros for the two places, but the buyers, rumored to include Marc VDS Racing, were not forthcoming. Bird has more hope of finding a buyer this time around, though the asking price is now nearer to 2 million euros for the pair. PBM will not be selling them directly, but instead, will auction them off through IRTA, the teams association which handles all entries into MotoGP.
There were two reasons for Bird to sell his slots indirectly via IRTA, rather than dealing directly with Aprilia. The first was that he believed he would get more money for the slots by allowing IRTA to auction them, rather than trying to do it himself. The second was that he was not keen to deal with Aprilia directly, as felt the Italian factory had let his team down this year. "They [Aprilia] would rather talk to Dorna than to me," Bird told Speedweek. "Apart from that, they have given us zero help this year." Promises of assistances made over the winter and during the season had not been fulfilled.