The saga of Pramac Ducati is become a very off-again-on-again affair. After Aleix Espargaro made such a positive impression at Indianapolis and Misano, subbing for Mika Kallio who had been temporarily promoted to the factory Marlboro Ducati team, the Spaniard looked set to replace the current holder of the second seat at Pramac, Niccolo Canepa.
But the decision has fallen in favor of the Italian instead. According to GPOne.com, Canepa will keep hold of the Pramac ride for the rest of the season, after discussions between Ducati and Pramac team boss Paolo Campinoti. Campinoti's preference was to give Espargaro the seat, as he made clear to GPOne.com: "I would have preferred to run Espargaro, because this would have given us better information to decide who to give the second bike to in 2010, seeing as [Mika] Kallio has re-signed, but that wasn't possible."
The problem was most likely one of image, according to GPOne.com. Ducati were afraid that it would look bad if they were to drop Canepa this late in the season, despite the Italian's poor results all year and the certainty that Canepa will not be back in MotoGP next season. Ducati are already reeling from the criticism they received after chasing after Jorge Lorenzo, Ben Spies and Dani Pedrosa once they learned of Casey Stoner's three-race absence, and probably did not want to throw more oil on the fire of accusations that their MotoGP program is in disarray.
The decision to retain Canepa does not mean that Espargaro's chances of taking the Pramac seat for next year have disappeared however. But the choice did just become more of a gamble.