With the next Grand Prix at Phillip Island fast approaching, the third-last round of the 2011 MotoGP season, rumours are starting to grow rampant again about Álvaro’s imminent future in the class. As the hottest property still on the rider market after Andrea Dovizioso’s move to Tech3 has finally been officially confirmed today, the silly season is now firmly focused on Álvaro with the drama around Suzuki taking center stage.
Immediately after the Japanese Grand Prix voices from the Suzuki team and paddock insiders sounded at least positive, albeit still completely unsure about Suzuki’s involvement in the 2012 MotoGP season. In the week since then the mood seems to have changed – if not within the team, it still did in the motorcycle media where suddenly voices are getting louder which believe that there won’t be any babyblue bike on next year’s grid after all. If that really proves to be true, it would leave Álvaro and the team in the lurch, punishing Álvaro for the loyalty and faith he’d shown for the factory as one team option after another vanished.
But, as they say: when a door closes, a window opens – and that window might come in form of the LCR Honda team. Lucio Cecchinello has now told Italian magazine GPOne that Àlvaro is his first choice to fill the seat “vacated” by Dovizioso’s move to Tech3, even though he’s also in talks with former LCR rider Randy De Puniet as well as John Hopkins. And as Cecchinello is eager to finalize next year’s lineup quickly, he will announce the final decision within a week.
Lucio Cecchinello: “I really hoped that Andrea would have taken a different decision, but we respect it. Now we will decide within a week the name [of our rider]. Our priority is Álvaro Bautista, who hasn’t decided yet, waiting for the last word from Suzuki. But Carmelo Ezpeleta has told me that at Phillip Island they will know what they want to do in Hamamatsu, then a solution will be near.”
So, one way or another, it looks like we will definitely find out which bike Álvaro will ride next year during this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix. We will keep you updated.