Jorge Martinez, boss of the Aspar team, has made no secret of the fact that he wants to add a MotoGP team to his 125cc and 250cc teams. For years now, he has lobbied the manufacturers to provide him with the bikes that would allow him to realize that dream, and at last, he looks close to sealing a deal.
According to the Spanish sports paper Marca, Aspar is within days of securing a deal which will see the team enter MotoGP for the 2010 season. As ever, Martinez remains cagey about which manufacturer will be supplying the bikes, but he estimated his chances as being 80% Ducati, 20% Honda.
The most obvious path for the Aspar team would be to take over the bike left vacant by the departure of Sete Gibernau's GFH team, but that presents Martinez with two problems: The first is that Aspar is keen to field two bikes, which would allow them to gain as much data as possible, a crucual ingredient for success, as they will have a lot to learn in their debut in the premier class.
The second is similarly intractable. Martinez is keen to take his brilliant young Spanish protege Alvaro Bautista into the MotoGP class, but Bautista has previously expressed a reluctance to ride the Ducati, and more importantly, the Spaniard wants a guarantee of a factory ride, which is generally regarded as the key to success. That would make Suzuki his only option for the 2010 season, as Suzuki are the only factory to have an exemption from the so-called rookie rule, which prevents newcomers from going straight to factory teams.
But Aspar may be able to offer Bautista an escape clause. According to Marca, Ducati boss Livio Suppo is keen to sign the young Spaniard, and is offering a move to the factory Ducati squad in 2011, after a year in the Aspar satellite team.
Martinez is expecting to finalize his plans this week, and hopes to make a final announcement at the British Grand Prix at Donington next week.