Well, where just a few days ago, it seemed certain that Marco Melandri would be going to the factory Ducati team, now it looks increasingly like last year's title runner up will be staying with Gresini on a Honda next year. Both MotoGrandPrix.it and Crash.net are reporting that Fausto Gresini has matched Ducati's reported offer of € 3 million for next season, an offer which would also include strong factory support from Honda, and, surprisingly, Bridgestone tires. The mystery for all this is where the money is supposed to be coming from, as Altadis, the brand behind Fortuna, are leaving MotoGP, taking their large sponsorship budget with them.
If the reports are true, it would put a halt to an expected round of rider shuffles, with Sete Gibernau, the man Melandri was expected to replace at Ducati, staying put and not going to Kawasaki, where he was set to take Shinya Nakano's place. This would then also leave Nakano the option at staying at Kawasaki, and leave the question of who Melandri's team mate will be open. Alex de Angelis is one name being bandied about, as is Carlos Checa, although Checa, who has been very impressive this year on the inferior Dunlop tires, has also been linked with Pramac d'Antin Ducati, who are expected to get Bridgestones for next year.