Eugene Laverty laps up MotoGP teams' interest
Despite a 37-point deficit, Northern Ireland's Monaco-based World Superbike star Eugene Laverty still has an outside chance of lifting this year's title at the final round in Spain on Sunday.
Strangely enough, all the latest speculation is not about Laverty's 2013 title aspirations with Aprilia Racing, but just where the Toomebridge man will ride next season.
Only yesterday World Superbike contenders Crescent FIXI Suzuki joined the ever-increasing queue to obtain the 27-year-old's signature.
We caught up with Laverty en-route to Jerez and he explained candidly: "I've been speaking to team owner Paul Denning and he's very keen for me to join them at Suzuki."
Giving a more detailed insight to the current list of potential offers, he added: "Where other manufacturers are giving me deadlines and saying, 'take it or leave it', Paul understands the situation I'm in, and said he'll keep the seat free until I make a decision.
"The other obvious attraction with Suzuki is they will be going into MotoGP in 2015 and that would possibly work in my favour."
With seven wins from his 17 podiums to date this season aboard the factory Aprilia RSV4, you would be forgiven for wondering why Laverty is not being retained by the Italian manufacturer.
But then those questions have already been asked and lamented over, with Laverty being strongly linked with a move to Pramac Ducati to ride their 'customer bike' in MotoGP for 2014.
That link is now even greater, given the fact that current Aprilia Racing boss Gigi Dall'igna will join Ducati Corse as their CEO in 2014.
"I'm still speaking with Ducati but things have obviously stalled there a little bit with the change in management, with Gigi moving across there from Aprilia," Laverty (below) explained.
Obviously keen to make the transition to MotoGP in 2014, he added: "I'm going to keep pursuing that option but the Aspar deal is up in the air at the minute, as they are possibly heading in the Honda direction for 2014."
The Spanish-based Aspar team, managed by former 125cc GP star Gino Borsoi, have dominated this year's CRT class in MotoGP with Aleix Espargaro on Aprilia powered machinery.
And that Aprilia connection seemed to be the obvious link to take Eugene into MotoGP next season; that is, until Aprilia boss Dall'igna made the decision to move from Aprilia to Ducati.
Concluding, I asked Eugene, just how many teams are currently on the 'we want Laverty list', and he joked: "If I was Cal Crutchlow I'd be telling you there are nine teams that I'm speaking to.
"There are a few others but that's pretty much it, but for this weekend we will concentrate on Jerez."