The 2024 motorcycle racing season is fast approaching and that means seats are being filled up and down the ladder - so where does that leave one of the UK’s brightest future prospects, Rory Skinner?
The Scotsman is so far without a ride ahead of the 2024 season after being ousted from his expected second-year seat at American Racing in the Moto2 World Championship.
Skinner made his full-time Moto2 debut in 2023 as part of a two-year deal with the American squad but would end the year having been dropped from the line-up in favour of Marcos Ramirez, the Spaniard having impressed during a stand-in stint that piqued with a run to the podium at Sepang.
By contrast, Skinner could only crack the points on a single occasion - a half-points 12th place finish in the wet at Phillip Island - leaving him without a confirmed spot as of writing.
So, right now, what are Skinner’s best options?
While Skinner may have found his first season of Moto2 a significant step up in competition compared with BSB, he has still gained an invaluable season of knowledge and intel of both the bike and the circuits in the super competitive series.
As fellow BSB-to-Moto2 convert Jake Dixon has previously shown, it can take time to find your groove in the ultra-tough intermediate class, so Skinner will be well placed as the ‘rider on standby’ for any team needing a substitute in 2024.
And as Skinner’s replacement Ramirez has shown, that might be all he potentially needs to get back in favour.
Failing that, the Moto2 European Championship - which runs as part of the highly-rated JuniorGP programme managed by Dorna - represents a logical option for Skinner. Using the same Moto2-regulation chassis and 765cc triple-cylinder engine from Triumph, international teams like IntactGP and SAG compete at familiar venues like Jerez, Valencia and Portimao as part of their season.
Moreover, front runners from 2023 - Senna Agius and Xavier Cardelus - will both compete in the World Championship this season as a result of their success on the European stage.
While this is perhaps dependent on whether Skinner is willing to put his grand prix aspirations on hold, many fans would be very happy to see him return to UK shores to push on in what was a very promising British Superbike career.
Skinner made his ‘big bike’ debut in 2021 with FS-3 Racing Kawasaki and proceeded to reel off a series of podiums in 2022 en route to the Title Showdown, even if injury prevented him from making a run at the title.
Though there aren’t many seats available at this juncture on the BSB grid, there are a small handful of tempting options, chief among them, Lee Hardy Racing.
The team - which runs under the VisionTrack Racing banner, is still without a rider for 2024 after parting ways with Bradley Perie and Skinner would fulfil its desire to nurture young talent. Moreover, Skinner has experience of the Kawasaki ZX-10RR package, while Kawasaki UK were keen to back the youngster through its rider development programme in 2021 and 2022.
Elsewhere, TAS Racing is yet to confirm its plans for 2024 with its BMW M 1000 RR, while reigning champions Paul Bird Motorsport is also a question for 2024 as it considers its options following the passing of team founder and owner, Paul Bird.
Having made a name for himself with a dominant turn in the BritishSSP Championship in 2020, Skinner should be seen as a prime candidate for success in the WorldSSP series.
Indeed, several Moto2 riders - Nicolo Bulega, Andrea Locatelli, Dominique Aegerter and Stefano Manzi among others - have gone on to enjoy immense success at WorldSSP level since making the switch, making it a potentially very attractive option for the youngster.
Alas, like the WorldSBK Championship, the 2024 WorldSSP entry list has been announced already with no obviously available rides for Skinner to fill.
However, with a mammoth seven manufacturers committing to WorldSSP in 2024, there is substantial investment coursing through the series right now and a rider of Skinner’s calibre might be enough for one firm - such as Triumph, Honda or MV Agusta - to consider making arrangements to accommodate him.
Watch this space…