Factory Ducati rider Andrea Iannone has been speaking to Suzuki over the prospect of signing with the Japanese factory for 2017.
Last week Ducati confirmed that they had secured the signing of reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, leaving the Italian’s future in the balance. Both Iannone and his team-mate Andrea Dovizioso have contracts that are expiring at the end of 2016 and no decision has been made as of yet.
There had been talk that Iannone had a contract already agreed in principal and was due to be announced at the ‘Ducati Island’ at the Circuit of the Americas; this was before Iannone’s torpedo move on Dovizioso at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit.
Then last weekend Ducati supremo Davide Tardozzi told BT Sport that Lorenzo would effectively chose his team-mate for next season, saying that the riders style will play a pivotal part in who will partner Lorenzo for next season.
Iannone recently said that he thinks that his riding style is closer to that of Lorenzo’s and something which would help both Lorenzo and Ducati next season. Speaking at the Circuit of the America’s before Lorenzo was confirmed, he told Marca:
“If he comes and I’m at Ducati with him, I think it would be a very good team. We have very similar riding styles, something that’s never happened with Dovizioso. Andrea has a very different style to mine and, therefore, often to get a good set-up or to pursue an opening we take different paths. Instead, to have a person who rides similar to you, it would definitely help you a lot.”
It has to be stressed that Iannone’s priority is very much to stay with the Factory Ducati outfit into 2017. Iannone has come through the Ducati ranks being promoted through the Pramac team before ascending into the factory team in 2015. However, neither Iannone nor his manager Carlo Pernat are happy with Ducati delaying over a decision for next season.
As normal with every contract negation, Iannone and Pernat have spoken to other teams in the event Ducati elect to re-sign Dovizioso and have subsequently received a large offer from Suzuki for the next two seasons. Suzuki are worried that they will lose prized asset Maverick Viñales to Yamaha so are on the lookout for a new rider. Even if they retain the services of Viñales, Suzuki are thought to be willing to part ways with second rider Aleix Espargaro who hasn’t enjoyed the best of starts to 2016 – even if he did beat Viñales at Jerez last time out – if they can secure the signing of Iannone.
The logic would suggest that Ducati retain Iannone. As said, he has come through the Ducati system and is four years younger than Dovizioso. He finished ahead of Dovizioso in the 2015 World Championship standings too. Dovi does have a history of bike development on his side and spent a year on the M1 – albeit part of the satellite Tech3 team – in 2012, something which Lorenzo may favour as they look to improve the GP17 for when he arrives.
A decision on Ducati’s second rider is expected to come at Mugello in three weeks time at the very latest, as the rider market for 2017 continues to evolve.
Photos via Ducati Corse