Vermeulen, Biaggi, Byrne on Ducati shortlist.

Xerox Ducati team manager Davide Tardozzi has revealed he is chasing either Chris Vermeulen, Max Biaggi or Shane Byrne to replace Troy Bayliss in the team next season.

Ever since Bayliss revealed he will be retiring at the end of the 2009 season, speculation has been rife as to who will replace one of the most successful Superbike riders in the championship's history.

Initially chasing Colin Edwards, Tardozzi has exclusively told that while it will be difficult to replace Bayliss with someone equally as accomplished, his current number one choice would be 2005 World Superbike runner-up Vermeulen.

A ten-time WSBK race winner, Tardozzi admits he has approached Vermeulen about the possibility of stepping away from MotoGP in 2009, but is resigned to the fact that the Australian rider's recent revival of form with Suzuki may dash their hopes of securing their man.

“Nobody in the world can replace Troy 360 degrees,” he said. “He has such a great relationship with us, our fans… everybody likes him, not just Ducati fans. And he is fast, which means we can't replace him with someone who can probably get the same results.

“My favourite is Chris Vermuelen though. We have approached him but he is still under contract with Suzuki and it looks like they are trying to keep him after the last two results. I think the chances are pretty slim now.”

With Vermuelen seemingly out of the picture, Ducati plan to open talks with a handful of riders after this weekend's World Superbike round at Brands Hatch.

However, it does seem likely that Michel Fabrizio's seat is safe as Tardozzi took the time to praise the young Italian for the progress he has made since graduating to the factory-backed team this season.

“We have two places free, but we have an option on Michel and it is possible we are going to renew because he is performing really well. Michel is certainly in position so far and while he hasn't got the contract yet, we are thinking he is growing.”

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Rico - Unregistered

July 29, 2008 2:23 PM

Gaz, get a life and a sense of humour :p Personally, I'd like to see Biaggi get the ride, purely because he's a nutter and great entertainment value. For me, he's one of those riders who is brilliant to watch, whether you like him or not. Vermuelen is doing well in motogp, it would be a waste of his talents to go back to wsbk. Shakey, I just don't rate him that highly even though he's doing well this season. He clearly likes the duke though, so who knows. Finally, I must say that it will be a sad day when Mr Bayliss steps off his bike for the final time. What a class act he is - a great rider, a great racer, a great champion and a great bloke. He could teach Mr Stoner a few things.

Son - Unregistered

July 31, 2008 11:09 AM

Troy cannot be replaced. He's everything to everyone....his fans, his factory....the guy is just the real deal. I will be rooting for Max Neukirchner on the Suzuki next year.......without Troy, there is no need for me to root for them.

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