The “Melandri dream” may have gone up in smoke when the Italian signed with the factory Ducati Aruba team, but Manuel Puccetti hasn't lost heart and has continued to work to prepare the 2017 squad that bears his name.
Just as Puccetti hinted already a few weeks ago, he has his sights set on a Kawasaki that, if not factory, is at least "very good" and on a very competitive rider; a rider that would guarantee the team top-ten finishes, or rather a top five place in the SBK standings.
As Manuel has already stated, Davide Giugliano is first on his list, though if the young, talented Roman rider were to be hired, this would not make him 'second choice' to Melandri: “Davide, as I've already said, is a very strong, fast rider, able to ride the bike on the limit. I'm talking with him to offer him an annual contract with our team, riding a very competitive ZX10R”.
In response to the suggestion that Australian Joshua Brookes might be in with a chance, Puccetti is clear: “no, no, right now I'm negotiating with Giugliano, he's the rider we would want and a decision will be made shortly”.
So very soon?
“At the next Lausitzring round I'll have news. Anyway, I'm not only speaking with Giugliano, I'm also interested in Swiss rider Randy Krummenacher and think he'd do well in SBK next year”.
Krummenacher is already a Team Puccetti rider in Supersport with the ZX6R, but the Italian is the current favourite in the eyes of the team's sponsors... “Davide has already completed several seasons in SBK with great results, and my sponsors would prefer an Italian rider... it would be the perfect combination”.
Can you sum up the two options with a percentage?
“I'd say that with Giugliano we're 60% there, with Krummenacher having the other 40%. Although, I have to admit that Randy has proved to be very fast and competitive and I'd like to keep him in the team”.
Do you mean you'd provide a second bike for him?
“No, the project only envisages one Kawasaki, for a rider with an annual contract; if Giugliano were to be our SBK rider, I'd try to keep Krummenacher in the Supersport team, as he's doing very well in his first season in this tough category”.
Kenan Sofuoglu said that he'd prefer to be the only rider in the Supersport team, but as Puccetti clarifies: “Kenan is the Supersport world champion, he's our number one; he can of course express his opinion and we'll listen to him, but the final decision comes down to the team”.