Although most of the MotoGP world is awaiting the decision of Jorge Lorenzo, currently the largest log jamming up the 2010 rider reshuffle, a smaller block could soon find itself being shifted. The Spanish website Motocuatro is reporting that Alvaro Bautista has signed a two-year deal with Suzuki, and that he will be making an official announcment on Thursday.
According to Motocuatro, the deal will be announced by "a senior figure inside Suzuki" and will also see the announcement of Loris Capirossi's contract extension for 2010. This would see Bautista line up alongside the Italian veteran at Suzuki for next year, with Capirex retiring at the end of the 2010 season.
The impending announcement leaves Jorge Martinez and the Aspar team in something of a quandary, but the team must also carry some of the blame. Bautista signed a pre-contract with Suzuki last summer, when Martinez looked close to a deal with Suzuki to run a team for the 2009 season, a deal which eventually fell through after Suzuki decided against supplying more bikes for the series. This left Bautista already committed to Suzuki for next season, and subject to a penalty if he want to get out of the deal.
The penalty clause is not Bautista's main consideration, however. The Spaniard is known to be keen to join an official factory team, and Aspar's promise of promotion to the Ducati factory team in 2011 was simply not enough to sway Bautista's decision in Aspar's favor. With Suzuki exempt from the rule barring rookies from going straight to a factory team, the Rizla squad was Bautista's only option of a direct factory ride.
With Bautista apparently out of the equation, Jorge Martinez is left to fill the gap at Aspar. The two current favorites are Toni Elias, who will not be staying at Gresini beyond the end of this year, and Hector Barbera, the Spanish rider currently competing against Bautista in the 250cc class. Elias already has experience on the Ducati, the bike which Aspar will be fielding, but Barbera is from the Valencia region of Spain, and as Aspar's sponsors all have strong ties and strong roots in the region, that connection may just tip the decision in his favor.
First, though, Bautista's management are due to meet with the Aspar team at Brno on Thursday. Once that meeting has been held, then official announcements should be made, and another piece or two of the 2010 MotoGP puzzle will have fallen into place.