TUESDAY 2ND AUGUST 2005
Yamaha and Valentino Rossi may have announced that they will extend their partnership for a third season, but significant changes could still take place for 2006 with rumours suggesting that the Italian will be part of a one man team backed by telecommunications company Alice.
Spanish sportspaper AS claims that Rossi intends to shun tobacco sponsorship and return to his 500cc roots - when he rode a Nastro Azzurro backed Honda (lower pics), in a one man team, with which he went on to win the 2001 world championship.
However, the report states that Rossi would continue to rely on Jerry Burgess, who has been with the #46 since his Nastro Azzurro Honda days, as his crew chief and that his existing pit crew - whom he took with him from Repsol Honda at the end of 2003 - will also be unchanged.
Telefonica Movistar, who currently back Rossi's arch rival Sete Gibernau, are said to have been interested in backing the 'new' team, before Italian company Alice clinched the deal. Alice (pronounced 'A-leech-a')were the 2003 title sponsor for Aprilia and currently have a lesser presence on the factory Ducatis.
AS also claims that the satellite Tech 3 outfit, which currently runs Toni Elias and Ruben Xaus, will lose Yamaha support, while the 'official' two man factory team will hire an as yet unnamed rider to join Colin Edwards - reducing the total number of M1s on the MotoGP grid to three.
Impressive rookie Elias would be the obvious choice for the third 2006 Yamaha seat.
Rossi, German MotoGP. 2005