Alvaro Bautista is sticking with Aspar Team Ducati for the 2018 MotoGP world championship, after signing a new one-year deal.

The Spanish rider, who claimed the 2006 125cc world title with Aspar, returned to the team this season after two indifferent years on the factory Aprilia.

Having claimed four top-seven finishes in the opening nine rounds of 2017, including an impressive fourth place in Argentina, Bautista has been locked down by Aspar for the 2018 campaign.

The move ends interest from Aprilia to lure back the Spanish rider and - with the likes of Cal Crutchlow, Danilo Petrucci and now Bautista all staying put - increases Sam Lowes' chances of remaining on the RS-GP.

Aspar have told that Bautista will ride a GP17 Desmosedici next season, his to-be-confirmed team-mate getting a GP16.

"I am happy to be spending another season as part of the Pull&Bear Aspar Team family," Bautista said. "It is a union that can help both the team and myself to grow. We are having a strong season, I have a good relationship with the team and I feel very comfortable on the Ducati and with the support from the factory. I think we can continue to improve and achieve good results."

Jorge Martinez, Aspar Team general manager, believes Bautista is well placed to build on his success so far.

"It is good news for the Pull&Bear Aspar Team that we have reached this agreement with ?lvaro Bautista," Martinez said. "We believe in him and we are enjoying a very strong season. We also have a lot of faith in Ducati, we get great support from the factory and through extending this relationship, together we can improve even more.

"I hope this year still holds many more high points like the ones we have enjoyed already, and that next season holds even more still."

Bautista sits 11th in the MotoGP riders' championship at the midway stage of the season.

Karel Abraham currently rides alongside Bautista on a GP15 machine. The Czech rider is yet to confirm his 2018 plans.

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I think Bautista was the last of the credible candidates for Sam Lowes' Aprilia ride. Unless they promote a rider from Moto2, only Baz, Abraham, Barbera and Redding are left on the table, and I don't see any of those guys as being top choices for Aprilia. Looks like Sam will have at least another season and a half to prove himself.

Bautista was already dumped by Aprilia before, so couldn't blame him for not wanting to return. Besides, the bike is not yet fast enough or reliable, having had many engine blow ups.

Aprilia seem rather insistent on dumping Sam Lowes too. Maybe Baz or Redding an option. Both have a few years experience in motogp and not setting the world alight on older Ducati's.