Regardless of the outcome of this year's 250cc championship, that series' two biggest names will be leaving for greener pastures at the end of the year. Both Alvaro Bautista and Marco Simoncelli intend to step up a class for the 2010 season, though they seem set to go in quite different directions.
The man whose future seems clearest is Alvaro Bautista. For according to the Spanish website Motoworld.es, Bautista is in negotiations to join the Rizla Suzuki team in 2010. Motoworld.es is reporting that representatives for the Spanish 250 star have been talking to Paul Denning about joining Suzuki, as Bautista is determined to sign with a factory team, which leaves Suzuki as the only option. The Hamamatsu factory was given a dispensation from the so-called Rookie Rule which prevents riders eligible for the Rookie Of The Year award from going straight to a factory team, as Suzuki only fields two bikes and does not have a satellite squad which they can use to nurture newcomers to the class.
According to Motoworld.es, Bautista is most likely to be replacing Chris Vermeulen at Suzuki, as the Australian has an offer from another team for next season, though the site does not say which team that might be. Like Bautista, Vermeulen is keen to remain on factory equipment, and at the moment, there are appear to be very few factory seats open.
Bautista was in talks with Suzuki last year about switching to MotoGP for this season, but the Man From La Mancha (Bautista is from Talavera de la Reina, in Spain's Castilla-La Mancha region) decided to stay on a year in the 250 class after losing the title to Marco Simoncelli. But Bautista is also a protege of Jorge Martinez, boss of the Aspar squad, and Martinez is keen to hang on to the Spaniard. To this end, Martinez is in talks with Yamaha about obtaining satellite M1 machines for the 2010 season, though the success of this approach will depend on whether the proposal to allow riders just one bike at each race actually makes more bikes available than the four that Yamaha currently fields.
As for Marco Simoncelli, it is an open secret that Aprilia want the Italian superstar to ride their RSV4 machine in World Superbikes next season, even offering Simoncelli a wildcard in World Superbikes earlier this year. Aprilia is furious with Dorna and the MSMA with the way decisions were made about the Moto2 class, the Italian factory's plans to field a V Twin thwarted by the class moving to a 600cc four cylinder engine, a configuration Aprilia has neither the experience nor the interest in building.
But Simoncelli is yet to be convinced. The Italian feels he is still young enough to take a chance in the MotoGP class, and Motoworld.es is linking Simoncelli to the Gresini Honda squad. Simoncelli shares his manager with Alex de Angelis, who will no doubt be talking to Fausto Gresini about Simoncelli's future.
It remains to be seen how Simoncelli's close friendship with Valentino Rossi plays out. There is no doubt about Rossi's influence with Yamaha, and the internet is rife with rumors linking Simoncelli with Yamaha, and especially Herve Poncharal's Tech 3 Yamaha squad. So far, these are very much still rumors, and as virtual as the world which spawned them. Silly season has started very early in 2009.