The ink is barely dry on the press release announcing Ben Spies' retirement from racing, but speculation about the future occupant of his seat at Pramac Ducati has started.
But before specific names can be diced, sliced and pureed, a key question must be answered: Will Spies' successor ride a factory or customer bike?
Spies rode a factory GP13 during his limited action this season. But European media outlets reported this week that Aprilia World Superbike standout Eugene Laverty turned down Spies' seat for 2014 because it would only be a customer or "Open" machine, not a full works effort. All reports indicate Ducati will field only three factory bikes next season, for works team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow and returning Pramac rider Andrea "Crazy Joe" Iannone.
|Negotiations between sponsor Marlboro and Ducati Corse are known to be in a holding pattern. Their current contract ends in 2014. Marlboro wants better results before they begin negotiating the next contract, Ducati needs more funding to improve results, is the presumed angry circle. |
Negotiations between sponsor Marlboro and Ducati Corse are known to be in a holding pattern. Their current contract ends in 2014. Marlboro wants better results before they begin negotiating the next contract, Ducati needs more funding to improve results, is the presumed angry circle.
Laverty still could be a candidate if his negotiations with Aprilia and Suzuki in WSBK disintegrate. Laverty also probably will need to reduce his reported annual salary demands of 500,000 euros to fit within Ducati's budget. The Boys from Bologna reportedly offered less than half that sum in its first proposal to Laverty.
Two other names mentioned as candidates for Spies' ride are Yonny Hernandez and Danilo Petrucci. Hernandez has served as an injury replacement for Spies at Pramac for most of the second half of the season, while Ducati already has made contact with MotoGP Claiming Rules Team veteran Petrucci because it offered him a role as a test rider last year.