If CRT was conceived and idealised as the way forward for MotoGP, and factory teams were acknowledged to be inevitable as long as they had the power to dig their heels in, then it was customer outfits who faced the most uncertain development: stuck in economic and competitive limbo, there appeared to be no room for a format more expensive than CRT and with only marginally more potential.
Teams like the Aspar squad decided to get a head-start on the expected trend for CRT with their switch from Ducati, losing rider Héctor Barberá in the process. Teams like Tech 3 Yamaha, Gresini Honda and LCR Honda have had success in the first year of a new cylinder capacity but, without taking anything away from Messrs Dovizioso, Crutchlow, Bautista and Bradl, 2012 seemed pencilled in to be the only time that they would be able to compete on some degree of parity with the official team riders - hence Yamaha men Dovizioso and Crutchlow looking elsewhere after early success.
That isn't how things have turned out, however, and expect a further twist this weekend at Misano. Of course, everything centres on the man who set the rider roundabout in motion: Ben Spies.
To paraphrase Michael Corleone, just when we thought Spies was out, they pulled him right back in. His departure from Yamaha, announced with an ambiguous tagline about his future endeavours, opened the door for Valentino Rossi to return to the Japanese factory (according to various sources, Spies had been the preferred option for them for 2013). He looked set to go to BMW in World Superbikes. Well, time has run out for signing that particular deal and Chaz Davies has been confirmed alongside Marco Melandri, adding fuel to the fire of a Spies switch to Ducati. Following me so far?
To cut a long story short, we've got a Ducati Junior Team arriving that has a heck of a lot of talent on the riding side.
Andrea Iannone is going to be moving up from Moto2 after his positive test performances at Mugello, so you'd expect the combination of an Italian bike and Italian rider to be announced at the Italian — sorry, San Marino — round this weekend. Spies's confirmation may take a little longer, but all signs point to a done deal. It is his involvement that takes the project from a feeder venture to something different.
The satellite Ducatis have always been a mixed bag and have always done best when closely linked to the factory. Think back to 2007, when it was the ride to aspire to for a MotoGP chancer, inspired by the success of Alex Barros and the similarity of the GP7 to that ridden by Casey Stoner and Loris Capirossi. Then compare it to the decision to use Dunlop tyres in 2006 — "Only good for going round and wasting fuel", according to manager Luis d'Antin in a scathing critique at the end of that year — or the wilderness years of 2009 and beyond.
This year the satellite Ducatis have been riding similar times — and getting similar results — to the factory machines from Borgo Panigale which have lacked direction. But the project for 2013 is promising enough to convince a hungry Moto2 talent and a GP race winner to get on board. That must mean that firm assurances of equality and investment have been made from Italy.
"We have been in talks with Ducati since July about entering into an agreement to make our relationship much stronger," Pramac Racing manager Francesco Guidotti admitted to me on Monday, adding that "this is all that I can tell you right now. Maybe in the next few days we will know more". It looks like the existing structure is going to be kept on, bolstered and given the support needed to avoid the blushes that come with being caught by CRTs. All this after they looked to be departing after their main sponsor went into liquidation with losses approaching €100 million. The team will be saved — but will the future of satellite racers?
If Ducati can get things right — a big 'if' based on their last couple of seasons — then the closest riders to being caught by the new type of machine will pull away again, the mid-pack will feature some pretty special riders and there may just be a rethink about the viability of a satellite team. At the very least, this Junior Team project will give Honda something to think about before they make their production racer available in 2014.