Eight rounds into the year and silly season is heating up. Alvaro Bautista and Danilo Petrucci are two of the latest riders claiming to have discussed the possibility of riding for Aprilia in 2018, while weighing up an option to stay in their current Ducati teams.

Both men are currently competing in satellite squads (Bautitsa in Aspar, Petrucci in Pramac), and while there appears to be the option to continue there, both Simone Battistella - manager of Bautista - and Alberto Vergani - manager of Petrucci - have spoken to Aprilia.

In Barcelona, Aprilia racing boss Romano Albesiano admitted the factory is "talking with some other riders", in case Sam Lowes, contracted until the end of '18, does not show an improvement in the coming weeks.

"At the moment, I'm not speaking with them," said Bautista, who rode for Aprilia in 2015 and '16. "My manager is. Our priority is to speak with Jorge [Martinez Aspar, team boss) because I feel very well here. Also I feel very competitive with this bike and this team. The priority is to speak with Jorge.

"But it's true that Aprilia is coming to find me again. For sure to work directly with a factory is always very positive. At the moment it's nothing clear but we're in touch with some teams. The important thing is I have some options to choose."

On whether his priority is to remain with Aspar, he said, "At the moment I feel like a rider again, not like a test rider, in the last two seasons. So for me it's very important to have this feeling and to be competitive, to fight for the position that I can fight for. This season for sure the Aprilia is a bit better than last season. We'll see. For sure, I want to be competitive in the races."

Could that result in machinery that is identical to factory riders Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo? "I don't know which is the deal between Aspar and Ducati," said Bautista, who has secured For sure we're in contact with Ducati to have the best material possible for next season. But at the moment I don't know."

On Thursday at Assen, Petrucci was also asked of his plans for next year, as his contract with Pramac Ducati comes to a close this December. The Italian, whose stock undoubtedly rose after a stunning home podium at Mugello, said he plans to assess his future in two weeks time, when the summer break begins.

"My manager is talking," said Petrucci. "He told me with Aprilia and Pramac and with Honda but I'm not sure if they talk or not. I know that we are talking with Ducati and Aprilia. At the moment I prefer to finish these two races to remain more concentrated. Then in the holiday we check the offer.

"Alberto, my manager, before the Barcelona race said he knew something. [He said] 'I don't want to stress you so I will tell you nothing.' But it was not so useful because I crash. If he told me the situation I could crash anyway and I would know my future! I don't know my future at the moment."

Meanwhile Petrucci's team-mate Scott Redding says his situation is as it was two weeks ago at the Grand Prix of Catalunya. The Englishman's intention is to stay with Pramac into '18, but has had no further discussions in the past fortnight.

"I have no idea. If I'm honest I'm no further than Barcelona. If anything I'm in a worse position with getting no result [there]. I do believe in the team because they can see that I'm motivated, they can see what I want to achieve what I can do. I just want to show that to them.

"The problem is every race weekend is coming later and later. We're coming to the point in the season and I've shown one good result - at the first race - and the rest has been average. It's now what I know I can be doing. That's frustrating because I could potentially lose a really good position because I've been focussing on the wrong area.

"And that's because experienced riders can fix that problem earlier. Those guys that have been in factory teams from the beginning learn so much faster and I have to find it out more from myself. It takes more time and time's not something that we have here. Like I say, I would like to stay here. I don't make that decision at the end.

"Again, changing team or bike, OK. But I would like to stay here with this team. I've said it from day one. It's the same comment now. I can't knock the team one little bit, apart from the fact they're all f**king Spanish and Italian! They're all good guys and honestly they work hard and do their best.

"I like that family feeling of going racing and trying to achieve your best. That's what I've got here. If I don't achieve the best of what I think I can do, I don't know what it must feel like for them. This weekend I hope I can turn it around and do something special."

By Neil Morrison

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