It's an open secret that MotoGP could see another wave of rookies enter the class in 2010. The two main protagonists in the 250 championship, Alvaro Bautista and Marco Simoncelli, are both widely expected to go to MotoGP, while American World Superbike sensation Ben Spies has been linked with MotoGP, but has publicly been keeping all his options open.
A decision on Bautista's future could come as early as the Catalunya Grand Prix, according to the Spanish online magazine Motoworld. The Spanish publication is reporting that Suzuki have offered Bautista Chris Vermeulen's seat for 2010, who looks certain to be dropped at the end of the season. Suzuki are said to have asked Bautista to give them a reply at the Catalunya Grand Prix at Barcelona in just under two weeks' time. Bautista is believed to be very keen on the Suzuki ride, as Suzuki is the only factory team that will be allowed to field series rookies from 2010, under the new so-called "rookie rule". As Suzuki doesn't have a satellite team, the factory would not be able to sign class rookies at all without this exemption.
Suzuki isn't Bautista's only option, however. The Spanish magazine is also reporting that Jorge Martinez of the Aspar team is at an advanced stage of negotiations with Yamaha to field a single bike team in MotoGP next year. Martinez has been trying to get into MotoGP for the last couple of years, his efforts failing on a dispute with Kawasaki over rider choice at the end of 2008. But with the 2010 regulations allowing only 6 engines for an entire season, Yamaha have indicated that his could free up enough extra capacity in their race department to allow them to field a single extra bike. Martinez is determined to enter the MotoGP class, and while he has made clear that his preference is to take Bautista with him as the rider for his team, the project will not stand or fall on Bautista's participation.
Meanwhile, Marco Simoncelli is a man much in demand. Aprilia have already expressed their intention to persuade the Italian to make the switch to the World Superbike series, and race a factory RSV4 for them, but Simoncelli has been pressing to stay in MotoGP. Simoncelli's prime option has been to join the Tech 3 Yamaha team, though the question remains as to who he would replace. Colin Edwards has also been linked to a return to World Superbikes, but the Texan's strong results have made clear his intention to stay in MotoGP for at least another year. Team mate James Toseland looks like the most obvious candidate for replacement, the Briton having struggled so far this year. However, Dorna is widely known to be keen to keep a British rider in the MotoGP series, as a way to ensure that the BBC continues their lucrative TV deal with Dorna. Of course, a British rider in MotoGP does not necessarily mean that this must be James Toseland, or that Toseland has to stay with the Tech 3 team.
The other candidate for a seat with Tech 3 is Ben Spies. The Texan has shook up the World Superbike series this season, taking a record 7 poles in a row and pushing Noriyuki Haga very hard for the title this year. Spies has told the American press that his first option is to stay with Yamaha, and that he is perfectly happy in World Superbikes at the moment. But Spies has been approached by Suzuki to join their MotoGP team, and Herve Poncharal has made no secret of his intention to sign Spies for next season. Spies himself has glossed over the subject, telling the press in Utah "there's a couple of little conversations here and there, but nothing down yet."