With the announcement of new rules and regulations being made during the summer break, the resumption of World Superbike action at the Nurburgring was also a chance for the reconvened paddock to reverberate to the sounds of rumour and gossip as speculation as to whom will land where for 2014 began to gather pace.

As it stands, just one rider has been confirmed to the World Superbike grid in 2014, with Tom Sykes putting any prospective MotoGP rumours to bed by penning a new deal with Kawasaki. However, things are proving less clear-cut around him with several interesting murmurings coming out of Germany this weekend...

Kawasaki has previously suggested that it wants to expand its line-up in 2014, whether that comes in the form of a three-man team or with leading Supersport outfit Mahi Racing stepping up. Kenan Sofuoglu has been tipped for the latter position, but while he has tested the ZX-10R, he has since played down hopes of a return to the top flight.

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Instead, a three-man Provec-run team seems most likely with Loris Baz - following his impressive Silverstone performance - tipped to get the nod, alongside possibly Carlos Checa. The former champion has a good relationship with the Spanish-backed team and has become increasingly frustrated at being unable to make progress on the Ducati 1199 Panigale. With Ayrton Badovini now regularly out-pacing him on the twin-cylinder machine, Checa is rumoured to be seeking a way out of his Ducati contract.

Ducati, meanwhile, is expected to benefit from the change in the rules for next season, not least the cap in the engines which may level the playing field a little in terms of raw speed. The manufacturer has made no secret of the fact that it wants Nicky Hayden to remain an ambassador for the Ducati brand by moving into World Superbikes, though the American is apparently reluctant to do so. His recent closed test at Misano will prove critical to his final decision, but Ducati is rumoured to be offering a substantial 'carrot' if he does...

Heading in the other direction potentially, a move to MotoGP has been tipped for Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty. Having been so loyal to Honda over the years, the Ulsterman has been mooted for a long-awaited switch to the premier class riding, either with Gresini Honda in place of Alvaro Bautista or riding one of the manufacturer's production racers. With Bautista's results having improved recently, the latter appears more likely, though Scott Redding's appointment on the Gresini Honda production racer does take away another option.

Laverty, meanwhile, has stated that he is committed to staying with Aprilia, whether that is in World Superbikes or MotoGP. It is common knowledge that Aprilia is on the verge of upping its involvement in MotoGP in the wake of Aspar's ultra-successful endeavour with the RSV4-based CRT machine and Laverty is a leading candidate to join his brother Michael in the series.

Indeed, much of the 2014 grid could hinge on Aprilia's decision to stay in World Superbikes. While the hot paddock rumour at Silverstone suggested Aprilia would follow BMW out of the series at the end of the season, the less drastic gossip coming out of Germany is that Aprilia will leave as an official entity but create a 'semi-works' satellite outfit in its place, much like Althea Racing was to Ducati when the Italian manufacturer left in 2010.

Should this occur, 2013 standout Sylvain Guintoli is expected to stay put, possibly alongside Laverty, while Marco Melandri - left without a ride following BMW's withdrawal - has made no secret of the fact he wants to join the manufacturer for 2014.

His current team-mate Chaz Davies, meanwhile, has been linked just about everywhere since BMW's announcement it was withdrawing, with Ducati, Honda and Kawasaki all being mentioned, while the latest rumour is a possible new BMW start-up team headed by former champion Troy Corser.

As for PATA Honda, Rea is always welcome in the Ten Kate Racing-run team, while Leon Haslam hasn't had a chance to shine on the CBR1000RR this season. That said, Ducati are thought to be keen on the Briton if they can't lure Hayden.

Elsewhere, the decision to open up an entirely new EVO category has raised interest from some of the current Supersport and Superstock 1000 teams, while 2014 - or possibly 2015 - could see new manufacturers take the plunge too.

Following its successful return to Supersport competition this year, MV Agusta are reportedly keen to go even further and launch a works-backed Superbike challenge. Althea Racing has been rumoured to be running it, while Yakhnich Motorsport has since emerged as a possible candidate too, the well-financed Russian team no doubt keen to retain its Supersport champion-elect rider Sam Lowes, even if the Briton insists he has several options.

In addition, Mahi Racing and PTR have both mentioned a possible switch to Superbikes in 2014, while Superstock-standouts Barni Racing have been waiting for a change in the rules before embarking on a graduation too.

Better still, Yamaha has also been tipped for a comeback, though this appears more likely to occur in 2015.

Whatever happens, it seems 'change' will be the running theme throughout the 2014 World Superbike Championship season...