When Chaz Davies was named as the replacement rider for Alex Hofmann in the Pramac d'Antin team for the last 3 races of the year, hopes were raised among British MotoGP fans, who have been longing for a Brit on competitive machinery in MotoGP for a very long time, and among US racing fans, who have been impressed by the young Welshman's pace in the AMA Supersport and Formula Xtreme classes. But after his impressive debut at Laguna Seca, leaping unprepared onto the bike during the second free practice session after Hofmann was forced to pull out with an injury, Davies' full race weekends did not go as planned. His appearances were beset by injury problems: at Phillip Island and Sepang, a gash in Davies arm caused by a fairly innocent fall while testing the Ducati became badly inflamed with infection. Then, at Valencia, he crashed heavily during both the first free practice session, and again during qualifying, ending any hope of racing.
As a result of his bad luck, Davies' chances of landing the Pramac d'Antin Ducati ride for 2008 rapidly faded, gone completely once the team announced that Sylvain Guintoli and Toni Elias would be riding the bike next season. However, Davies still had the offer of joining Vittoriano Guareschi at the Ducati factory test team, helping to develop the GP8 and the Bridgestone tires, which have been such a key part of the GP7's success.
The discussions hinged on Davies' ability to actively participate in racing. As Ducati's official test rider, Davies would have been the first choice of replacement rider should either of the factory riders become injured, but Davies wanted more than just the single wildcard ride which Ducati had offered him. At just 20 years of age, he felt it was important to keep racing, in order to keep his edge.
But now, it seems the discussions have foundered, as the Italian site MotoGrandPrix.it is reporting that the young Italian Superstock rider NiccolÃ² Canepa has been signed as official Ducati test rider. The young Italian was European Superstock 1000 champion this year for the Junior Ducati Xerox team aboard a 1098S, and as a reward, has been promoted to the factory test team. Canepa will also help develop the 1098R for the Ducati World Superbike team, and will be given at least one wildcard in World Superbikes.
With the Ducati test ride now out of the frame, and Jake Zemke taking the Erion Honda ride in AMA Supersport and Formula Xtreme, Chaz Davies' only competitive option for 2008 looks like being with Attack Kawasaki in the AMA.