Andrea Iannone has given the clearest indication yet that he will step up to the MotoGP World Championship next year aboard a Ducati following another test with the manufacturer at Mugello.
The Italian, an eight-time race winner in Moto2 over the last three seasons, has been linked with a switch to the premier class for several weeks, but while he was casually tipped as an outsider for a factory Ducati role, he is now favourite to land a ride with a proposed 'Ducati Junior' team.
As it stands, Ducati have not confirmed that such a team exists, but it is expected an announcement will be made during the San Marino Grand Prix at Misano next week, with Iannone set to be named as one of the riders after impressing during testing at Mugello this week.
Setting a best lap of 1min 48.3secs – faster than Valentino Rossi's qualifying time for the Italian Grand Prix earlier this year -, Iannone suggested his future plans are 'almost obvious'.
"At this stage I'd say it's almost obvious but it still has to be announced... However anyone can guess where I'll be next year,” Iannone told the official MotoGP website.
"I lapped in 1'48.3 (Thursday) and my feeling with the team and Ducati was great but this bike isn't easy to ride. I wasn't expecting this kind of lap time so I'm quite happy. Filippo (Preziosi) was satisfied because it was the first time that I really got to work with the team.
"Overall it's been a great experience as I felt quite comfortable but for now the priority is to focus on the (Moto2) World Championship in Misano.”
Beyond Iannone, several other riders have been mentioned in relation to a potential 'Ducati Junior' ride, including Ben Spies, Scott Redding and Danilo Petrucci.
Iannone's Moto2 rivals Marc Marquez and Bradley Smith have already secured MotoGP seats for 2013.