Max Biaggi claims to have the backing of Troy Bayliss to replace the retiring double world champion at Ducati Xerox for 2009, but admits he's had little direct contact with the factory itself.

The former MotoGP star, who finished third during a stunning debut WSBK season with Alstare Suzuki before switching to the satellite Sterilgarda Ducati outfit for 2008, has long been linked to the official team.

Last week, Xerox team manager Davide Tardozzi confirmed to Crash.net that the Roman is on a shortlist for the factory ride, alongside BSB title leader Shane Byrne and Tardozzi's favoured choice Chris Vermeulen.

But former WSBK title runner-up Vermeulen looks increasingly likely to stay in MotoGP - and Xerox could potentially have two factory seats available anyway, with an option on Michel Fabrizio's contract yet to be exercised.

"No [I haven't spoken to Xerox] although I spoke today with Troy and he said 'I have nothing against you coming to this team and I think you deserve it' ", Biaggi told Crash.net Radio on Sunday at Brands Hatch. "I said 'oh thanks! Please put in a good word for me!'

"At the end of the day I will put [myself forward] to the Ducati Xerox Team and if they think that I can be the one, then I'm really happy to come aboard. But only if they think I am the one they are looking for."

Biaggi, a four times 250cc world champion, added that - having now tasted life as both a factory and privateer WSBK rider - he considers a factory ride vital if he is to lift the World Superbike crown.

"There are other options [as well as Xerox], but what I'm really looking for next year is good support to win races and the championship," he said. "I think only a factory team can give you this chance. Like last year, I had the chance and I was so close in the points. I finished third in the championship, but I could have finished second or first going into the last round.

"I'm waiting to see what happens. I'm going on holiday now, I will talk to some people and when we come back for sure we will have some news."

Biaggi's 2008 campaign with the brand new 1098RS began encouragingly with second and third place finishes at Qatar, but a double DNF next time out at Phillip Island - when he also broke his left wrist in a huge race two accident - marked the start of a difficult run.

"We started in very good shape, but then I broke my left wrist [at Phillip Island] and I broke two fingers two races after that [at Monza]. It was really unlucky and the worst problems I've had during the racing season in my career," said Biaggi.

"Since recovering, I've been on the podium once in each of the last three rounds. Don't forget we are a private team and that's make me even more proud," he added. "I'm really proud of my team and my guys, we'll try to keep finishing on the podium in the remaining rounds."

Despite his early-season injuries, Biaggi has fought his way back up to seventh in the world championship standings and is 20 points ahead of race winning team-mate Ruben Xaus, who missed the Brands Hatch round due to sickness.

"Max is one of the guys that we think could replace Troy," Tardozzi said of Biaggi during his interview with Crash.net Radio in the build-up to Brands. "This year he had a fantastic start and showed how strong he is, but he had some problems that weren't his mistakes. We are really looking forward to see what he will be doing at Brands Hatch."

Biaggi finished a thrilling third in race one at Brands Hatch, just 0.043secs behind Bayliss and a mere 0.18secs from winner Ryuichi Kiyonari. A slipping clutch and off-track excursion early in race two left Biaggi in 28th position, but he fought his way back up to twelfth by the chequered flag.

Bayliss now holds a commanding 82 point championship lead and looks certain to claim his third and final WSBK title. Team-mate Fabrizio is ninth in the standings with four rounds and 200 points still to be decided.

Ducati/Bridgestone test rider Niccolo Canepa is also considered a possibility for a factory WSBK race seat next season, but appears to be angling for a MotoGP ride with the Alice Ducati squad.

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