After it’s been announced this week that Andrea Dovizioso will not continue with Honda next season but instead ride for Tech3 Yamaha, there’s now one seat less up for grabs on the MotoGP market and it also directly affects Álvaro’s choices for next year.
As has been reported previously, he currently has the option to stay at Suzuki, return to his former team with the Aspar Ducati or ride with Pramac Ducati who made him an offer which includes a move into the factory team the following year should he perform well enough in 2012. However, all of these choices come with a caveat.
At Suzuki, even within the team, it is still unknown whether or not the Hamamatsu factory will bring out the 1000cc bike next year, if they’ll continue at all and with how many bikes. According to the latest news the general feeling is “positive” for another year in MotoGP, but time is running out for the team to get the sponsor and rider package together.
It might be too long a wait for Álvaro whose priority it still is to continue with Suzuki as a factory rider, but he is desperate to ride a competitive bike and starting the first 1000cc season on a 800cc bike, which is already struggling against other 800s at the moment, just doesn’t fit that description.
His main other option, now that Dovizioso has taken the remaining Yamaha slot, lies with Ducati. Pramac has made him a two-year offer which would see him move to the factory team, depending on his results with Pramac in 2012. There are no details known about the Aspar offer and things are starting to look a little more shaky there as the Aspar Team is allegedly looking into the option of running a CRT entry next season instead of a satellite Ducati, possibly also continuing with only one rider instead of stocking up to two riders as previously assumed.
Finally, the ride with LCR Honda – which would have included a full factory bike – that Dovizioso has rejected in favour of riding with Tech3 Yamaha, is now again up for grabs as Dovizioso previously looked like the most likely candidate and the favourite for team boss Lucio Cecchinello to go after. At the moment several names are thrown around as to who might ride that bike next season (although it is unclear how much factory support there might still be coming with it), including former LCR rider Randy De Puniet and also Álvaro. Cecchinello has made it clear previously that he prefers to sign a rider who already has MotoGP experience in order to quickly bring good results for the sponsors after the quite abysmal season the team is currently experiencing. For this reason he also dismissed the possibility to bring in current Moto2 rider Stefan Bradl who is now already set to continue for another year in the intermediate class. De Puniet looks like the most logical choice now to return to his former team, but Álvaro is currently a highly sought-after rider in the MotoGP paddock, following his excellent results on the Suzuki this season.
Overall there are still four of this year’s MotoGP teams left who have not finalised their lineup yet – Rizla Suzuki, LCR Honda, Pramac Ducati and Aspar Ducati – and Álvaro has been linked to all of them. Even with only three races remaining in the 2011 season, the silly season is still spinning wildly, with Álvaro right in the middle.
A lot of his decision hinges on the final Suzuki announcement which should hopefully be made before or after the Australian Grand Prix next weekend. Until then everything’s still in the air, but we should finally find out about Álvaro’s future soon. Here’s hoping.
Photo: Rizla Suzuki MotoGP