Two riders in contention for Motocorsa Ducati WSBK seat
Loris Baz and Phillip Oettl are both in the running to take over the Motocorsa Ducati World Superbike seat that will be vacated by Kawasaki-bound Axel Bassani.
Italian rider Bassani's move to Kawasaki, where he will replace Yamaha-bound Jonathan Rea, was finally made official on Friday on the eve of the penultimate round of the season at Portimao.
It opens up a coveted seat at one of the most competitive satellite teams on the grid, with Motocorsa boss Lorenzo Mauri confirming he has two candidates in mind to take over from Bassani next year.
Ahead of the Portimao weekend, Bassani sits fifth in the overall standings, ahead of works Ducati rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi, highlighting the strength of the one-bike satellite squad's Ducati V4 R package.
Mauri told the official World Superbike website that the chances of the two remaining candidates for the seat are "50/50", and although he would not name Baz and Oettl directly, he clarified that neither rider was Italian.
Both Baz and Oettl are in need of alternative seats for 2024 having lost their places at the Bonovo BMW and Go Eleven Ducati teams respectively.
Baz has been replaced by Scott Redding, who was in effect demoted from the factory BMW squad to accommodate the arrival of Toprak Razgatlioglu from Yamaha despite having a valid contract.
Oettl meanwhile is looking virtually certain to lose his Go Eleven ride to ex-MotoGP rider Andrea Iannone, although the deal remains unconfirmed.
Both Baz and Oettl are thought to bring with them private sponsorship that would be attractive to a small team like Motocorsa.
Mauri confirmed both candidates would join the team for a post-season test at Jerez, after which a decision will be made on who gets the ride.
Rinaldi's future still in the balance
Axed Ducati rider Rinaldi meanwhile appears to be waiting on the outcome of the Marc Marquez Honda MotoGP saga to know his WSBK future.
Should Marquez decide to take the plunge with the Gresini Ducati team in 2024, it would likely result in current Honda WSBK racer Iker Lecuona being moved over to the grand prix paddock.
That would in turn free up a space alongside Xavi Vierge that Rinaldi could then slot into.
However, Rinaldi has also been linked with possible moves to MotoAmerica or even Moto2 if Marquez ultimately elects to see out the final year of his contract with Honda.
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