WorldSBK privateer standout Axel Bassani might have just gone a long way to putting himself in the 2024 shop window for the Kawasaki Racing Team, saying it would be a dream to partner 'the best rider in WorldSBK' Jonathan Rea.
The Italian has blossomed into a surprise success story since making his WorldSBK debut in 2021 and is currently considered to be one of the key players in the evolving rider market for 2024.
A smattering of head-turning results during WorldSSP wildcards as a teenager hinted at a bright future for Bassani, but it wasn't until he was picked up by Motocorsa Ducati to front its sophomore WorldSBK campaign that his profile soared.
Currently in the midst of his third season with the Motocorsa team, despite the Italian outfit operating on one of the smallest budgets in the paddock, Bassani has emerged as a regular front-runner.
Landing his first podium of the 2023 WorldSBK season last time out at Misano - bringing his career tally to five - and having now achieved 34 top six results, Bassani is being mooted for a promotion to a factory team next season.
Considered a contender for the second Aruba.it Ducati seat alongside champion Alvaro Bautista, Bassani hasn't ruled out alternative options, among them Kawasaki, which has a vacancy alongside six-time WorldSBK Champion Rea should it decide against renewing its agreement with Alex Lowes.
For Bassani, the chance to join the multiple title-winning team would be a dream, primarily because he'd get to learn from a rider of Rea's calibre.
"Jonny has a lot of experience, he’s a really good guy. For me, a legend and the best rider in WorldSBK.
"I’m happy to ride with him and when I beat him! If he was my teammate, then no problem. I have a lot of things to understand from him.”
What are Axel Bassani's 2024 WorldSBK options?
As it stands, all five manufacturer teams have at least one 2024 WorldSBK seat unaccounted for, though several will have options built into their contracts for an extension if targets have been met.
Even so, securing Bassani should be regarded as a major coup, with many surprised he wasn't snapped up by a larger outfit for 2023.
Part of the reason could be assurances from Ducati that another strong season would see him promoted into the factory squad. When measured against Michael Ruben Rinaldi - whom Bassani leads in the overall standings by 27 points after five rounds - then Bassani's chances look good.
However, the runaway success of Aruba.it Ducati's WorldSSP protege Nicolo Bulega could scupper his hopes given Ducati's preference for nurturing fresh talent.
It means Bassani could be lured elsewhere, even if previous examples of V4 riders switching to rivals using inline-four machinery is a deterrent. If not, then Bassani alongside Rea at Kawasaki has a good ring to it, the Italian ragged riding style perhaps the thing needed to wrestle the ageing ZX-10RR to better results.
He has also been linked with Honda in the past, but the manufacturer seems keen to stay the course with Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge. BMW, meanwhile, already has a headache figuring out how to arrange its team after swooping for Toprak Razgatlioglu.
As for Yamaha, it seems more likely to promote from within - both WorldSBK or MotoGP - than hire from outside, but the close factory association between the manufacturer and the satellite GYTR GRT squad could also qualify as a front-running option.