World Superbike rider Alvaro Bautista says the door back to MotoGP in 2020 “is more closed” now, as Ducati looks set to retain its current premier class line-up.
Bautista moved to WSBK on Ducati’s all-new Panigale V4 R at the start of this season and currently leads the standings by 16 points having won 14 of 19 races.
It was rumoured the former Nieto rider had a clause in his contract that would guarantee him a return to MotoGP with Ducati should he win the title in the production-based series.
But team boss Paolo Ciabatti previously told Autosport he saw “no sense” in removing him from its WSBK project.
Ciabatti also confirmed Ducati would be offering Mugello race winner Danilo Petrucci a new deal for 2020 alongside Andrea Dovizioso, with the Pramac line-up of Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia set to remain.
“We were waiting for an opportunity to come back to MotoGP,” Bautista said at the Misano WSBK round.
“Now it seems like the door is more closed because Ducati is very happy with the riders [they have] and they are very happy with me here.
“So they want to keep things like this. So we’ll see. I hope to have something [agreed to stay in WSBK] this month because it’s one less thing I have to think about.”
Current WSBK champion Jonathan Rea has a contract in place at Kawasaki for 2020.
But his team-mate Leon Haslam does not and several names from the MotoGP paddock have been linked.
Current Avintia rider Tito Rabat – who is out of contract with the customer Ducati team for next year – is rumoured to have been eyed up by the Provec-run outfit, with Marc VDS Moto2 duo Alex Marquez and Xavi Vierge also linked.
Avintia’s sporting director Ruben Xaus confirmed during the Barcelona weekend that the team is considering Marquez as an option for next season, with the Moto2 points leader originally linked to Pramac.
Marquez admitted after his third-successive win of the 2919 season in Barcelona that he has no idea of his future plans, and is happy to remain in Moto2 for one more year if required.