Eugene Laverty, a runner-up in both the WSS and WSBK championships, is in discussions with three manufacturers about moving to MotoGP in 2015.
Speaking ahead of this weekend's Laguna Seca WSBK round the Irishman confirmed that he is talking with Suzuki, Ducati and Aprilia about MotoGP, but admitted “things need to fall into place” with those teams before discussions can turn into something concrete.
“We're looking at options in MotoGP and in WSBK,” Laverty told Crash.net
. “We've had talks with Aprilia, Suzuki and Ducati in MotoGP but I'm also looking at my options in WSBK. I've been in touch with Gigi [Dall'Igna, Ducati Corse general manager] and we met at Misano but some things need to fall into place there in MotoGP but I have options on the table.”
Laverty, currently racing for Crescent Suzuki in WSBK, has tested the Suzuki MotoGP bike twice in recent months and came away enthusiastic about the potential of the project. The Hamanatsu-based manufacturer is yet to announce any riders for its 2015 return, with one of its targets, Dani Pedrosa, now unavailable after re-signing for Honda.
Cal Crutchlow appears to be the pin around which most of the remaining MotoGP rider market now falls. The Englishman has had a difficult first season on the Ducati but has an option to opt out of his two year deal at the end of this season.
Crutchlow has been cagey to discuss his options with the media, but the date to exercise the clause is nearing and his decision will have a big impact on the rider market. If Crutchlow does leave then Andrea Iannone, who has enjoyed a very impressive season with Pramac, looks set to move up to the factory Ducati team.
That could in turn open up an opportunity at Pramac for Laverty, who met Ducati Corse boss Dall'igna - who Laverty previously rode for at the Aprilia World Superbike team - to discuss MotoGP and WSBK options during June's Misano round.
“At Ducati a lot of it still depends on Cal's decision [on whether he stays] at the team. Last year Ducati offered me a factory contract [to ride at Pramac] and that's the most important thing to me, but it's nice to see that Gigi is still interested in working with me after we worked together at Aprilia.”
Last year Laverty turned down an offer to join Pramac given the uncertainty surrounding Ducati's switch to the Open class. The Irishman was also in contention for the mooted 2014 Aspar Aprilia project, before Dall'Igna's departure to Ducati prompted the Spanish team to switch to the new Open class Honda.
However Aprilia - which has just one Open class ART on the grid with Iodaracing, plus an engine supply for PBM - could make their official MotoGP return next season, a year ahead of schedule.
“Aprilia are still to decide whether to stay in WSBK or make the switch to MotoGP one year early. Either way they're keen to work together again and honestly I'd consider both options.”
Last year was a difficult time for Laverty who, despite contending for the WSBK championship with Aprilia, faced an uncertain future until the end of the year when he signed with Crescent Suzuki. Laverty, who this year ended Suzuki's near 100 race wait for a win in WSBK, admitted that avoiding such uncertainty is key for next year:
“I definitely want to get everything agreed earlier than last year. Back then Aprilia had an option on me until September but this year I'm on a one year deal with Crescent Suzuki so it means that I'm free to talk around the paddock now.
“To be on a factory contract is the most important thing for me and all three options in MotoGP have positives so I'll have to see which is the most viable for me.
“I've been in WSBK for the last four years so getting back on a title winning bike also has to be considered. Crescent Suzuki is a fantastic team but it's been a difficult year for us. It's important that next year I'm on a bike that allows me to show what I'm capable of.”
Eugene's older brother Michael is in his second season of MotoGP, with PBM.