The Pramac d'Antin team had a difficult weekend at Estoril, with Alex Barros forced to retire due to mechanical failure, and Alex Hofmann pulling in after being forced to switch to his B bike after the warm up lap, and starting from the pits. As a result, Hofmann found himself 6 seconds adrift of the pack after the second lap, and gave up trying to catch the group ahead after lap 11, pulling into the pits. The German's lack of motivation is unsurprising, after the team's signing of Sylvain Guintoli for next season leaves Hofmann without a ride for 2008, and almost certainly out of the series. His bitterness can only be made worse by the fact that it was Guintoli who crashed into Hofmann at Laguna Seca, severely injuring the German's hand.
But his act of petulance could end up costing him dear: Team manager Luis d'Antin was less than impressed, and has now threatened to drop Hofmann for the rest of the season. The Spanish team's press release quotes d'Antin as saying "I think that lack of motivation is not an excuse for us, and therefore the Team reserves the right to make a decision on whether or not he will continue racing with us for the remainder of the season."
This move could fit in nicely with Ducati's attempts to lure Chaz Davies into signing a contract to be the official test rider with the Bologna factory. With Davies riding his last race of the AMA season this weekend, that would clear the way for Davies to take Hofmann's ride for the 4 remaining races, giving Ducati a fuller opportunity to evaluate Davies' ability and technical feedback. The only fly in the ointment there is that Davies is currently struggling with an infected elbow, the result of a minor crash while testing for Ducati at Mugello earlier in the week. Although the crash wasn't particularly serious, it gouged a hole in Davies' elbow, an injury which is highly prone to infection. If Davies' medical advisors can treat the infection properly, then the young British rider could be available to fill in for the German.
A full time racing ride for 2008 does not look likely for Davies, however, as Pramac d'Antin are expected to announce that they have signed Toni Elias for next year in the next few days.