Over the past few days, rumors have emerged from Italian broadcaster SportMediaset that the MotoGP grid could be expanded even further. According to Sportmediaset, Max Neukirchner, currently riding for Ten Kate Honda in the World Superbike series, had been offered a ride on a Ducati Desmosedici GP11 in MotoGP, with the backing of a large German sponsors. According to the reports, Neukirchner's management have had meetings with Dorna to discuss the possibility of the German making his debut in the series, a move which would be extremely popular with German TV audiences.
However, there seems to be little truth in the rumor. After Italian website GPOne.com contacted Ducati team manager Vito Guareschi, the Bologna factory made it clear that they had no room to provide a 7th Ducati MotoGP bike next year. German magazine Motorsport Magazin then contacted Arnd Siedl, Neukirchner's manager, for his take on the affair. Siedl admitted he had spoken to Dorna at the Sachsenring in July, but denied that it had been about a MotoGP ride. "I spoke to Dorna, but it was about a Moto2 at best, and that level of competition. It was all non-committal," Siedl told Motorsport Magazin.
Neukirchner also denied an impending move to MotoGP. "Obviously, I'm honored that people are saying this about me," Neukirchner told Motorsport Magazin. "Unfortunately, the people behind such a project have not yet really contacted us, and we don't know anything about it."
The story had seemed unlikely from the outset. Neukirchner has had a difficult past 18 months, ever since crashing very heavily at Monza. The German was released from his contract by the Alstare Brux team at the end of last season, and was a surprise signing for the Ten Kate Honda World Superbike team. But Neukirchner has failed to get to grips with the Honda CBR1000RR, and is currently just 18th in the championship with 41 points. After such a dismal season, promotion to the premier class seems unlikely in the extreme.