While this summer's rider merry-go-round lacks the heavyweight drama of 2012, there still are open seats and two established American MotoGP stars still looking for a ride when the music stops.
Cal Crutchlow landed the only available works factory ride when Ducati announced during the summer break it had signed the Brit to a deal to team with Andrea Dovizioso starting in 2014. That's quite a contrast from 2012, when all six of the plum works seats were available.
But there still will be plenty of wheeling and dealing this weekend at Brno, with much of it circulating around an unlikely prospect - a seat at Forward Racing.
Forward has elevated from the mediocre girl who looks good with beer goggles on at last call to one of the belles of the ball with the announcement by team boss Giovanni Cuzari that his team will dress up in 2014 with a leased Yamaha M1 engine and chassis instead of the balky BMW used in 2012 and the improving, but still unproven Kawasaki in the team's 2013 FTR chassis.
Suddenly there was an Oklahoma land rush toward the seats held by American Colin Edwards II and Claudio Corti. Among the suitors confirmed by Cuzari: 2006 World Champion Nick Hayden, CRT standout Aleix Espargaro, and World Superbike standouts Marco Melandri and Jonny Rea.
Edwards would appear to have an inside line to one of the seats. He has a long history with Yamaha at the Grand Prix level, riding for the factory team from 2005-07 and for elite satellite team Tech 3 Yamaha from 2008-11 before moving to Forward last season.
CE II is well regarded as a development rider and could point Forward toward a smart technical direction based on his overall experience and years with the Crossed Tuning Forks. He also is one of the most popular members of the Grand Prix paddock.
But Edwards turns 40 next February, and Cuzari - or his friends at Yamaha -- may want to clear the decks for younger talent. That's where Espargaro could fit.
Espargaro has taken the Aspar Aprilia to its loftiest heights in two years this season, clearly usurping teammate Randy de Puniet as the top rider in the production-based CRT class. His brother, Pol, already is signed to replace Cal Crutchlow next year at Tech 3.
But Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta already has bemoaned the overdose of Spanish riders in MotoGP. So that could work against Espargaro. Then again, Spain remains bike-insane despite its fractured economy, and Spanish companies continue to sponsor more teams than almost every other nation except for similarly bike-crazy Italy.
Hayden also confirmed he is talking to LCR boss Lucio Cecchinello for next season, probably for a customer Honda RC213V alongside the factory bike of Stefan Bradl. Cecchinello told English media that Hayden will need to bring money from American Honda or other backers to land the ride, as LCR lacks the sponsors to pay 1.2 million euros next season to HRC for its customer machine.
Italian media also reported Hayden could be a candidate for Espargaro's seat at Aspar if the Spaniard leaves for Forward's Yamaha. Aprilia parent company Piaggio apparently is interested in the popular Hayden because of the growth of the company's Vespa and Moto Guzzi brands in America. Ah, okay.
Aprilia is rumored to be considering a leap to factory status in 2014, ditching the CRT manacles. A fledgling works effort with a veteran team boss like Aspar Martinez could be attractive to Hayden. Still, memories of fellow American Colin Edwards II on fire on a RS "Cube" in 2003 at Sachsenring may be tough to douse.
Pol Espargaro and Scott Redding apparently won't be the only Moto2 standouts jumping to the big leagues next season. A Spanish website reported Wednesday that Indianapolis Moto2 runner-up Takaaki Nakagami will ride a Honda RC213V customer bike next season for a new team run by veteran GP racer and test rider Tadayuki Okada.
Finally, British Superbike race winner Alex Lowes could join Paul Bird's CRT team in MotoGP in 2014. Bird confirmed to an English publication at Indianapolis that he will run two bikes next season, using his home-built PBM frame with Aprilia engines.
Lowes probably will team with fellow Brit Michael Laverty next season if Bird is satisfied with Laverty's results this season during his rookie year in MotoGP.