Aspar Ducati is close to a decision on Alvaro Bautista's 2017 MotoGP team-mate - and it may not be Yonny Hernandez.
The Colombian looked certain to stay following team-mate Eugene Laverty's decision to return to World Superbike.
But at Aragon rumours emerged that the team is concerned by Hernandez sitting 22nd and last of the full-time riders in the world championship standings. Hernandez has scored just 13 points, compared with Laverty's haul of 71 on the same GP14.2 machinery.
"We are in discussions with Yonny and another option and I think during the next week we will announce the second rider," Aspar sporting director Gino Borsoi told Crash.net
Borsoi refused to be drawn on the identity of the other rider, but paddock speculation suggests it is Karel Abraham, who raced in MotoGP from 2011-2015. Abraham did not comment on the rumours.
"As I say, we have one other option on the table so during the next week we will announce," repeated Borsoi.
What does the team expect from Hernandez?
"Of course we need better results and he has the same potential as Laverty to make a good race," said Borsoi. "Laverty has made a wonderful season, so maybe that target is a bit high [for Yonny] at the moment. But anyway he is not far away and at least he has to try to follow the same results as Eugene."
Laverty is eleventh in the world championship, but opted for a return to WorldSBK when Aspar were unable to secure a second 2016-spec Ducati. Instead, Bautista's team-mate will use a GP15.
If Abraham joins Aspar it will effectively be a straight swap with Laverty, the Irishman being tempted back to World Superbike by a new Aprilia-backed project at the Milwaukee team.
Abraham has spent his rookie WorldSBK season at Milwaukee, running BMW machinery.
By Peter McLaren