With silly season now in full swing, the latest news comes from Alstare Suzuki, a World Superbike team. It seems that according to Eurosport, Francis Batta, Alstare's team boss, is leaning towards a move to MotoGP, as reported earlier. The surprising news, though, are the names being mentioned in Batta's statement. Obviously, the Belgian team's long association with Suzuki would continue, with Batta claiming that Suzuki has reached agreement with Dorna on running two extra bikes in MotoGP next year, but along with Suzuki comes another big name: The team would be run by Kevin Schwantz, former world champion and long time Suzuki associate. Obviously, Batta would bring his star rider, Max Biaggi from Superbikes, but in order to strengthen his sponsorship appeal, the team would also like to bring in Ben Spies, current AMA superbike champion, and currently tied for points in this year's championship.
Although the prospect of Alstare in MotoGP is a fascinating one, there are several reasons why the story should be taken with a pinch of salt. Batta is currently engaged in a war of words with Ducati and FGSport, the organizers of the World Superbike championship, about Ducati's desire to see the rules changed for twins, allowing manufacturers to homologate 1200 cc two cylinder bikes. Batta has already threatened to leave WSBK if Ducati gets its way, fearing the four cylinder bikes will be totally outclassed by the larger capacity twins, despite both running the same state of tune. This announcement fits perfectly in Batta's strategy of attempting to get his own way.
Then there's the riders. Max Biaggi can barely contain his delight at the World Superbike paddock, fitting in much better in the less formal, more family atmosphere of WSBK. Whether he would give this up to go back racing in MotoGP is unclear. Then there's Ben Spies. The American has made no secret of his interest in MotoGP, but his interest was thought to have waned after he signed a 3 year contract with Yoshimura Suzuki to race in the AMA. What's more, Ben Spies is thought to be 4 inches too tall and 40 pounds too heavy to ride a MotoGP bike, and a far cry from pint-sized jockey build believed to be ideal for the premier class.
And besides the riders, there's the bikes. It seems clear that Suzuki will bring at least one more bike to MotoGP next year, but rumors have centered so far on Jorge Aspar, who has stated his intention to enter a one-man team in MotoGP, probably with the current 250 rider Alex de Angelis.
Whether Batta is genuine about his intention to move to MotoGP, or is just using this as a way of putting pressure on FGSport, we shall have to see. In the Eurosport story, Batta says his chances are "60% MotoGP, 40% WSBK". We should know come November.
~~~ UPDATE ~~~
It seems that there is more information over at Superbikeplanet.com. The King of Soup, Dean Adams, describes the story as being "pulled from a folder labeled: "WHAT I WROTE ON MY LAST ACID TRIP", and frankly, he may not be far from the mark.