2012 World Superbike race winner Jonathan Rea is rumored to be rising on the list of riders under consideration for a promotion to MotoGP by Honda after he became the first British rider to win the Suzuka 8 Hours last weekend.
Winning in Japan on a Honda certainly won't hurt Northern Irishman Rea's standing with HRC bosses. And Rea is far and away the leading Honda rider this season in WSBK, fifth in the standings, with victories at Assen and Donington.
Gresini is the only Honda team with a potential opening for Rea. Alvaro Bautista has been shaky on Gresini's satellite Honda since submarining Jorge Lorenzo out of the first turn of TT Assen.
Michele Pirro rides Gresini's CBR1000RR-based Claiming Rule Teams bike, but it's uncertain whether Rea would want to give up a race-winning machine in WSBK to aim for CRT scraps in MotoGP.
But a Gresini CRT ride still might be a smart move for Rea since Honda has announced it is building a customer version of its prototype bike for sale - not lease - to teams starting in the 2014 season. If Rea is steady and competitive on a Fireblade-based CRT in 2013, he could be in line for a strong production prototype ride in 2014.