Marco Melandri has revealed he in talks over a possible move to Aprilia or Kawasaki for the 2014 World Superbike Championship after suggesting BMW have taken a step back in competitiveness this season.
Entering his second term with BMW in 2013, Melandri was considered the pre-season title favourite after winning six races last year, but while he has since added two more victories to his tally during his current campaign, a lack of consistency has seen him drift 53 points off leader Tom Sykes after seven rounds.
Claiming the 2013 developments on the S1000RR have had a negative effect on the bike's progress, a seemingly impatient Melandri says he is considering a change for next season and is setting his sights on current front runners Aprilia and Kawasaki.
“The 2013 developments on the bike aren't working and we've gone backwards, while Kawasaki has made a big leap forward,” he told Gazetta dello Sport
. “I'm currently in talks with Kawasaki and Aprilia [for 2014].”
Melandri made his WSBK debut with Yamaha in 2011, finishing runner-up in his maiden season as a Superbike rider with four race wins before moving to BMW for 2012 when Yamaha announced its withdrawal from the series.
The former 250GP World Champion was in contention for the 2012 WSBK title last season after a mid-season flurry of wins briefly nosed him ahead of Max Biaggi with three rounds remaining. A poor end to the year, however, would leave him third overall.
Should Melandri make a successful move to Kawasaki or Aprilia, it remains to be seen where he would fit into their current line-ups.
As it stands, Aprilia has no contract beyond this year for either Eugene Laverty or Sylvain Guintoli, though both are riding high in the overall standings with five wins between them.
Kawasaki, meanwhile, has signed Loris Baz on a single-year contract, while its title-challenging lead rider Tom Sykes has signalled a desire to stay with the manufacturer if he isn't lured by a competitive MotoGP package. However, with new regulations set to swell the WSBK grid for 2014, Kawasaki has suggested it will be expanding its World Superbike operation next season.