Eugene Laverty has spoken of his desire to stay in MotoGP in 2017, but only if he can secure competitive machinery.
Otherwise, “there are still some competitive Superbikes” available that could tempt the Northern Irishman back to the paddock in which he competed from 2009 to 2014.
Speaking on Saturday afternoon after qualifying 17th for the Dutch TT at Assen, Laverty revealed that he is yet to begin negotiations with the Aspar Ducati team about the possibility of staying in the Spanish squad for a third consecutive season.
Alvaro Bautista told Crash.net
on Friday that he is mulling over an offer for 2017 from Laverty's current team that includes the chance to ride the Desmosedici GP [GP16] machines that Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone are competing on at the moment.
If Bautista did sign, that would leave just one seat available for either Laverty or team-mate Yonny Hernandez.
“We've got to sit down and talk about it,” said Laverty. “I want to see what's going on in this paddock and this team first. I've spent two years here learning and a step up in machinery would be ideal. I'm looking to do that.
“I was in World Superbikes in Misano last weekend and it was really nice to see so much interest there so I have to put everything on the table and weigh things up. The most important thing is to be on a competitive bike.
“It honestly doesn't matter what championship it's in but to be on a competitive bike again is key. When you're battling against the best riders in the world and you're already starting behind, it makes it tough. I'm really motivated to try and stay here.”
One of the WSBK 'possibilities' open to Laverty is the second Aruba.it Ducati, but the Toomebridge rider, who has enjoyed an excellent start to 2016, explained that other options are available.
“There's also a possibility there [Ducati's World Superbike team] but there are a lot of good bikes on the grid there right now. Obviously with the Yamaha, the new Honda… There are a lot of things going on there.
“When I left Superbike at the time there were just two [competitive] bikes and those four seats were filled. That was part of the reason I came to MotoGP because if there wasn't a competitive bike in World Superbike I thought I'd try MotoGP and take the risk. That's why I'm looking seriously at both paddocks because there are competitive bikes.”
While it was announced this week that Tom Sykes would continue with Kawasaki's factory World Superbike team for two more years, Laverty spoke of how close he had come to joining the current WSBK champions.
In the end, his desire to inspect all the possibilities in the grand prix paddock led him to look elsewhere.
“I think people don't realise how close I was to the Kawasaki deal. I was close to going there but in the end I've got to see what's happening here. First, I need to have an offer here on the table before I can make a decision. I have to be able to see what's happening in MotoGP before I can weigh things up.”
Asked how close he came to joining the team that also expressed an interest in Aleix Espargaro, he said, “We were pretty close.
“It was a difficult one to know what to do. There are still some competitive Superbikes available. I have to make a decision in the next weeks but it's a tough one to weigh up. I've put two years of hard work in here. If there is a good bike available I'm keen to stay here and show what I can do.”
On when he expects to know his plans for 2017, Laverty added, “I want to know before the end of this month. That's when I want to make a decision. There's no reason why it should drag any further than that. We'll speak with the team here, speak with Ducati and see what's available.”