Now that the paddock at Brno is starting to fill up with teams and riders, as they prepare for the Czech Grand Prix this weekend, silly season is starting to get back into full swing. Already, news is starting to break of Alvaro Bautista's impending announcement of a deal with Suzuki for the next two years, as team mate to Loris Capirossi for 2010, and that move has precipitated a bit more reshuffling.
For with Bautista now taken, the Aspar team, who will be making their debut with the fifth Ducati fielded this year by Sete Gibernau, have had to turn to their backup plan for a rider. According to Spanish website Motocuatro.com, that backup plan is Hector Barbera. Barbera and his management met Jorge Martinez, boss of the Aspar squad, in the paddock at Brno, and according to Motocuatro, at that meeting Barbera concluded a one-year deal to ride the Aspar team's Ducati in 2010. The deal is due to be announced officially on either Thursday or Friday, as Jorge Martinez had promised he would do to the Spanish press.
Barbera was Aspar's preferred fallback option, for the Aspar MotoGP project is to be funded by the Generalitat Valenciana, the Valencian tourist board. With both Jorge Martinez and Hector Barbera being natives of the region, the project is now a 100% Valencian undertaking, serving the interests of the sponsors down to the ground. Alvaro Bautista, Aspar's initial option, is from Talavera de la Reina, a small town southwest of Madrid, in the Castile-La Mancha region of Spain.
Barbera was known to be talking to other teams, including Tech 3 Yamaha, but the sponsorship deal sits much better with Aspar than elsewhere. If Barbera had also chosen to pass on the option, then Jorge Martinez would have had to turn to Toni Elias, currently with Gresini Honda. Elias rode the Pramac Ducati last year, putting the bike on the podium twice, at Brno and Misano, though he was aided by Michelin's tire woes at Brno, and crashes at Misano.
With Barbera taking the Aspar ride, Elias' options in MotoGP are starting to get very thin indeed. His only real option looks like being a return to Pramac, alongside Mika Kallio. But that decision is likely to wait until after Ducati have decided what to do with their option on Nicky Hayden, which expires at the end of August.