Karel Abraham favourite to replace Xavier Simeon in 2019 Avintia line-up
|By Oriol Puigdemont, Jamie Klein and David Gruz||Tuesday, July 17th 2018, 13:34 GMT|
Karel Abraham has emerged as the favourite to take Xavier Simeon's Avintia Ducati seat for the 2019 MotoGP season, Autosport has learned.
With the first half of the 2018 MotoGP season coming to an end at the Sachsenring, only two rides, one at the newly-formed SIC Yamaha satellite team alongside Franco Morbidelli, and one at Avintia Ducati, are still up for grabs.
The Avintia squad has yet to formally confirm either of its two riders for 2019, but Tito Rabat is thought certain to continue, the Spaniard telling Autosport he is "confident" that he will remain at the team.
His team-mate Simeon signed a one-year deal for 2018, with an option to extend it for one more season, but the Belgian rider has endured a low-key campaign and has yet to score a point.
Demand is high for the Avintia Ducati ride, with Abraham and Alvaro Bautista - whose current Angel Nieto team will be replaced by SIC next year - the main contenders to replace Simeon.
Abraham confirmed to Autosport that he is "talking" with Avintia, but questioned whether he would accept another season on a two-year-old Ducati, which he has raced for the last two seasons.
"We are working on it [the Avintia option]," said the Czech. "I'd love to stay in MotoGP.
"But at the same time I want a competitive bike, to make some top 10s like last year.
"It's a very complicated situation. I would really like to have a one-year-old bike.
"If I was on a two-year-old bike, I'm afraid I would be the only one in the paddock using it next year, as the Angel Nieto team is not going to be there next year.
"I want to stay here, but I'm not sure if it's worth it on a two-year-old bike. Last year was great, I had a lot of fun; this year we are all a bit pissed off, struggling, things aren't coming."
Simeon struggling on GP16
Simeon has so far failed to finish inside the points this year, taking a high of 17th at Jerez and Mugello, and the Belgian admits he is "not very happy" with his season so far.
He is the only other rider on the grid besides Abraham to be equipped with a two-year-old Ducati.
"I am not very happy because at the beginning of the season I was hoping for a little bit more," the Moto2 graduate told Autosport.
"At the moment I see that it is difficult to make some steps because other guys, other factories also, improve, so for us it is difficult to improve because we don't have any [new] parts on the bike.
"My bike is still the same and I have to improve all by myself. At some tracks I can expand on my potential but on other circuits it's more difficult.
"I am not disappointed, but I'm also not very happy with my situation."