As the MotoGP circus returns from a short vacation the rumour mill starts going round a bit more quickly with Brno traditionally being the point in the season where contract discussions start to get serious and signatures are put on dotted lines.
With all of the three main factory teams already filled, the attention turns to the satellite riders and also the big question mark hanging over Suzuki’s involvment in the class next year.
While earlier in the season it looked increasingly likely that there might not be any blue bike at all on the grid in 2012, it now appears that Suzuki might give MotoGP another shot, if with a caveat. For the Hamamatsu factory might continue with a modified 800cc bike in the new 1000cc field, according to paddock rumours. But a bike that’s already looking slightly inferior compared to the other 800cc machines on the grid presumably won’t stand much chance against the even faster 1000cc bikes, making a competitive season on it a rather difficult affair.
Alvaro’s contract with Suzuki runs out at the end of this season, so his future in the MotoGP class at the moment is uncertain. Much of his decision where to go will likely depend on the involvement of Suzuki next year. For one if they will stay and if they do, with what machinery. Should Suzuki decide to develop a 1000cc prototype after all, it is likely that Alvaro will stay with them since working with a factory team has always been one the main points he wanted to have in the MotoGP class and the team so far seems happy to have him.
However, Suzuki is not his only option. Jorge Martinez is looking to extend his MotoGP team to two riders next season and Alvaro could well join Hector Barbera on the satellite Aspar Ducati. Aspar’s and Alvaro’s good relationship is well-documented and it continued over the last two years after Alvaro left the team to join Suzuki, refusing the offer to ride the Ducati. But in light of Ducati’s increased struggle this season Alvaro might still be more than reluctant to try that bike although the Aspar Team would probably welcome him back with open arms.
Which leaves another option, as reported by AS today. According to Mela Chercoles the Tech3 Yamaha team might also be interested in signing Alvaro for 2012 as team boss Herve Poncharal has already shown interest in him in the past. However, that satellite Yamaha seat is hotly contested. Currently Cal Crutchlow and Colin Edwards ride for the French team with Crutchlow already being secured for next year. The big question mark hangs over Colin Edwards. The Texan looks in good form this year, already bagged a podium in Silverstone and is repeatedly hailed as an excellent development rider which would be very helpful for Yamaha in the first year of the 1000cc rule. But at 37 years of age the rumours re-appear every season that this could be his last one. If Edwards does retire at the end of 2011, there are also other interested parties for the potentially vacant Yamaha. Poncharal has repeatedly expressed admiration for current Moto2 championship leader Stefan Bradl who looks set to move up to MotoGP next year. However, the German is in hot demand at the moment and his options are plenty, including a possible CRT entry with his current Kiefer Racing Team or a Viessmann-sponsored satellite Honda.
So, although it is not yet clear where Alvaro will ride next season, for the moment it looks almost certain that he will stay in the MotoGP class. But with which team or bike we shall find out in the coming months.