World Superbike legend Noriyuki Haga could be heading to the Swan Yamaha team for the 2012 British Superbike Championship.
Haga, a 43-time WSBK race-winner and treble title runner-up, is now favourite to replace the injured Ian Hutchinson alongside reigning champion Tommy Hill.
Whilst the 'Haga to BSB' rumours are nothing new - and there is no official confirmation of a deal - the Swan Yamaha link moved a step closer to reality following a Tweet by Anthony West (@AntWest13) on Friday, which read "Just lost my 2nd ride for the year".
Having seen his planned MotoGP return end due to a lack of funding, West looked set to take over the vacant Swan Yamaha seat. A message on West's official Facebook
page has now confirmed "Ant West lost the ride for the Swan Team".
That leaves Haga, absent from the 2012 WSBK entry list, as the only other big name thought to be in contention to replace TT ace Hutchinson... Time will tell.
It is assumed that Haga would race the full season (BSB has a Showdown format, where the top six riders fight for the title over the final three rounds) with the healing Hutchinson switching to a roads only deal.
Haga has raced in BSB before, entering two rounds while riding for the British-based Renegade Ducati team during the 2004 WSBK season, in order to get extra track time with the new Pirelli control tyres.
Haga's BSB debut was certainly memorable, the #41 being forced to ride through this fiery accident on the warm-up lap at Oulton Park! See below for full sequence (no rider was hurt)...