Europress reported Wednesday that Forward Racing officials will announce during the season-ending Grand Prix of Valencia that American Colin Edwards II and Spaniard Aleix Espargaro will ride "customer" Yamaha prototypes for the team in the 2014 MotoGP season.
Edwards and Espargaro reportedly will use Yamaha engines of the same spec as those bolted this season into the Tech 3 Yamaha satellite bikes of Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith. Yamaha will provide the frame and swingarm, with FTR building the rest of the bike. Both Forward riders will participate under the new "Open" rules, which allow a fuel-tank capacity of 24 liters in return for using the Dorna-spec electronics and software.
The signing of Espargaro was anticipated but came with some financial baggage. Espargaro and Forward reportedly had to pay a 400,000-euro buyout fee to Aspar to extract Espargaro from his contract, with Espargaro on the hook for 100 grand and Forward for the rest.
Media reports last week indicated that payout put Edwards' contract renewal in jeopardy. Forward owner Giovanni Cuzari reportedly asked Edwards to waive his salary for 2014 so it could be used to pay Espargaro's escape clause. Edwards predictably told Cuzari to place that request in a bodily cavity where no sun ever shines.
So either Edwards caved on Cuzari's demands - highly unlikely - or Forward found the funds to cut a nice, necessary check to Jorge "Aspar" Martinez.
Edwards' future status with the team was uncertain throughout the season despite his desire to return. He endured a miserable stretch to start the season, finishing three of the first five events, with a best result of 14th.
But CE II enjoyed a resurgence in the second half. He has advanced into the second round of qualifying against prototype and satellite bikes four times in the last eight races and finished as the top Claiming Rules Team machine at two of those races on his FTR-Kawasaki.
Edwards, who turns 40 next February, is second in the standings among CRT riders, 14th overall.