WorldSBK rider rumour mill hits warp nine

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti may lose Alvaro Bautista to Honda in a wages war. The little Spaniard’s stock – to the factory at least -– has nosedived somewhat following the series of crashes that have let Jonathan Rea put one hand on a record fifth WorldSBK title.

The Bologna outfit has made Bautista an offer for his services in the works team but the salary will have been somewhat reduced as he is no longer the champion-elect, merely the rookie runner-up. By all accounts, HRC has swept in with a larger cheque and the promise of a decent motorbike on which to compete.

This has shaken up the paddock as the man who was dead cert to stay where he was looks likely to have made available the seat which everyone wants. There will be a not-so-orderly queue forming at Ciabatti’s front door should this come to pass and in it will be Scott Redding, if he isn’t already sitting down in the lounge with a cigar, wearing Ciabatti’s best monogrammed smoking jacket.

Redding has impressed everyone with his performances in the Bennetts British Superbike series, particularly his ability to turn up to a track he has never before seen on a Friday, set pole on Saturday and win on Sunday. It’s similar to what Bautista did in WorldSBK until he began to fall off.

With Bautista on a Honda, and the one next to him almost certainly taken up by HRC’s Suzuka star Takumi Takahashi, Leon Camier will be looking for somewhere to live and much-talked scenario is he replaces the struggling Markus Reiterberger at BMW.

Camier has history with the marque and has a great relationship with sporting director Marc Bongers after riding for BMW Italia in the Evo class. With a year of development under its belt, the S1000RR should be a weapon in 2020, which is exactly what Camier needs - a bike that is capable of winning and not another in a procession of sheds that he keeps being handed.

One chair that has many people circling is the one that Toprak Razgatlioglu has vacated to apparently replace Alex Lowes at in the works Yamaha squad. After being left out of Kawasaki’s Suzuka Eight-Hours raceday line-up, manager Kenan Sofuoglu properly spat his dummy out and pushed his Turkish charge towards Paul Denning’s mob.

Which has left Lowes - third in the championship right now - without a works ride, it would seem. He has the option of staying with Yamaha but in one of the satellite teams or pushing for the Puccetti seat. But with crew chief Phil Marron already installed, it might be an easier win for team boss Manuel Puccetti to employ Eugene Laverty who has a long history with the likeable spannerman.

Swapping race winner Lowes for Razgatlioglu is a strange choice by Andrea Dosoli but he does come with a load of money from the Turkish government, and his Red bull athlete status isn’t a problem even though Yamaha’s MotoGP team is title sponsored by Monster.

There are other spots available Lowes but they’re beneath him so even though he is being effectively demoted by Yamaha after doing the best job of any of their riders, he doesn’t look like he has much choice in the matter.