The 2018 MotoGP silly season took a twist on Friday in Catalunya when Italian website GPOne.com reported that Andrea Iannone, Cal Crutchlow and Alvaro Bautista are in contention for a factory Aprilia seat.

During their afternoon media debriefs, following Free Practice 2, Crash.net asked current Aprilia rider Sam Lowes, named in the report as the Aprilia rider likely to be at risk, and Crutchlow about the rumours.

Rookie Lowes, who has been improving in recent rounds, said he is doing everything he needs to do to remain at the team, adding:

"If I'm not on the bike next year it's for a reason out of my control. I'd be very, very surprised and, if I wasn't, it wouldn't be very correct... You never know in racing."

LCR Honda's Crutchlow, already aware of the report in the Italian media, gave the following reply when asked if Aprilia was a possible option for him:

"Well, whoever said Iannone is going to Aprilia I think is very wrong. Put it that way... I would say it's a viable option, sure. But, as I've said, I'm very very happy with Honda. Everything is going quite well. I'm happy with the team and we'll see.

"But I'm sure it's an option for some others. As I told a lot of you earlier in the year, there are a lot people with performance clauses in their contract. So if there's talk of Iannone leaving Suzuki, surely he has a performance clause in his contract?

"I think there's quite a few options, than just one or two. There are a lot of guys who are not in the best shape. We'll see."

Crutchlow still seems most likely to re-sign for LCR Honda.

Meanwhile, returning to Pramac is another rumoured option for Iannone, should he leave Suzuki early. But then who would go to Suzuki, assuming Crutchlow stays at Honda?

As well as factory riders with performance clauses, the majority of satellite seats are also still available for 2018, with Tech 3 the only Independent team to confirm its line-up.

Iannone was 13th, Lowes 16th and Crutchlow 20th in Friday practice. Lowes' team-mate Aleix Espargaro, who has a newer specification RS-GP engine, was 14th.

By Peter McLaren

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