Factory Ducati riders Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso must soon make a decision regarding their 2015 MotoGP plans.
Dovizioso is in the final year of a two-year contract. Crutchlow joined this season and controls an option for next year.
The twist is that Crutchlow and Dovizioso need to make a judgment before the much-anticipated first full bike by new Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall'Igna is ready.
Dall'Igna has only had time to make relatively light changes to this year's GP14, spending the winter and opening races gathering as much information as possible to try and ensure the long-running handling problems are finally cured for the next version.
The circumstances mean that - not for the first time in his career - Crutchlow will have to take a gamble one way or another.
Asked about his 2015 option and the timing of the new bike, Crutchlow replied: “My position hasn't changed. When I joined Ducati it was because I wanted to make history in Ducati. I want to make a career of being at the front and challenging, but at the moment the situation is that the bike is not competitive enough to do this.
“Over the years I believe that I've made some great decisions in my career... It is not necessarily down to me, it's down to the information I get and you have to take a gamble sometimes.
“I've taken a gamble in everything I've done in moving from British Superbike to World Supersport, Supersport to Superbike immediately, then immediately to MotoGP. I've taken some risks and they've worked out.
“I believe Ducati will find the way but when I don't know, because again you have to look at 2016 as well, when the tyres change to Michelin.
“The situation [at Ducati] has definitely improved from last year I believe, but not for me position-wise. My career was definitely going up and at the moment it's not going up still. So I will make a decision as and when.”
On the subject of a deadline by when he must decide, Crutchlow smiled: “I won't be sharing it with you!”
Dovizioso must also make a future bet, but was prepared to give a rough time-frame.
“Still I don't have enough data to take the decision. I think Assen [at the end of this month] will more-or-less be the time,” said the Italian, who claimed Ducati's first podium since 2012 earlier this year and is among the long list of riders being linked with Suzuki's MotoGP return.
“When we change the tyre supplier in 2016 the difference is so big and we will have to work almost from zero. But the key point is to understand for next year. Especially because almost everybody, I think, will make a new contract for two years.”
Both were speaking after Friday practice in Barcelona, where the Desmosedici struggled around the Circuit de Catalunya's long corners. Dovizioso finished the day in tenth and Crutchlow 15th.
Quizzed on whether such tough days may at least make the cause of Ducati's problems clearer for the designers, Crutchlow replied:
“I'm not a designer or engineer. All I can do is give the information. The good thing for me is - Andrea can compare to [the Ducati] last year, but I can compare to last year with a package [Tech 3 Yamaha] that was able to go a lot faster around the track at the moment and is a lot more competitive.
“The information I'm able to give them is that at turn three at the moment we are maybe 50% less throttle than last year. We need to give them that kind of information. Gigi is the guy who makes the decisions regarding what's going on with next year's bike, but I'm interested in now.
“My career is now. You don't look past the next race as a motorcycle racer, let alone a year's time. We need to get the results now and clearly the results are not there. So we need to improve the bike as soon as possible.
“But I don't think I'm saying anything different to the other riders. I believe that I feel more hindrance, as such, because of what I was on last year where the other riders [with Ducati last year] are feeling the situation is maybe a little better.
“I believe we are giving the correct information and it seems that we all say the same thing.”
On Thursday, Pramac Ducati's Andrea Iannone made clear that his main goal is a Factory Ducati seat for next season, whilst admitting to some contact with Suzuki.
Ducati (like Suzuki) will again be able to race with the Open class benefits next season, although use of the softer tyre and extra race fuel could be removed depending on race results.
World champion Marc Marquez is the only big name rider to have so far signed for 2015, agreeing a new two-year contract with Repsol Honda.
The single ECU era begins in 2016, when Michelin also takes over from Bridgestone as exclusive tyre supplier.