Andrea Dovizioso (above) and Eugene Laverty (below) are frontrunners for the vacant seat at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 in 2012.
Laverty remains a serious contender after having produced a series of eye-catching performances in his debut season with Yamaha’s factory World Superbike squad.
Texan Edwards will leave Tech 3 at the end of the season having signed a deal to ride for the Forward Racing squad on a new privateer 1000cc project. British rider Bradley Smith passed up the opportunity to move from the Tech 3 Moto2 squad to partner Crutchlow, the 20-year-old preferring to remain in the 600cc four-stroke class to launch a title assault in 2012.
Factory Suzuki rider Alvaro Bautista is also in contention for the vacant Tech 3 slot, though he has also been strongly linked with the second Aspar Ducati rider alongside Hector Barbera.
“I would say now there are three names,” said Poncharal. “There’s Andrea Dovizioso, Eugene Laverty and Alvaro Bautista. I think who will be the rider should be clear by Japan. I believe Alvaro is giving the priority to Suzuki first and if nothing works out there it could be Aspar or us. I would say the two strongest candidates at the moment are Eugene Laverty and Andrea Dovizioso. It is not an easy decision. Eugene is young and really fast and he made a good step from Supersport to World Superbikes this year. With Yamaha stopping in World Superbike he’s facing a tough situation right now, but I have a lot of faith and trust in his potential. On the other hand Dovizioso is third in the championship and a proven performer in MotoGP. We know immediately he would understand the bike and he could deliver good results straightaway and that is something we have to consider.”