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GP Week : Issue 163
ROSSI: THE WHOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS Valentino Rossi may not be getting the results he is accustomed to, but he remains the most powerful rider with the fans. And in the paddock, for teams and riders still awaiting contracts for next year. The 33-year-old Italian superstar has pledged that he will decide his future “in the next weeks” , after continuing consultation with Ducati’s new owners, Audi. But a series of meetings behind closed doors over the Mugello weekend has given new impetus to an earlier rumour: that there will be a place for Rossi back in the factory Yamaha team alongside old hostile team-mate Jorge Lorenzo. More sensationally, Rossi might take big-bucks sponsor Marlboro back to Yamaha with him. This would sweep aside the budget factor: having already paid handsomely to retain Lorenzo and still lacking a main sponsor Yamaha was thought unlikely to have pockets deep enough for Rossi as well. Yamaha Motor Racing chief Lin Jarvis told GPWEEK at Assen that while at that time he was not on their short list, “you can’t rule out the chance of Rossi joining one of our teams” . The fresh rumours of a deal brokered by Marlboro surfaced in Spain, with Motocuatro.com reporting a meeting between Marlboro’s big chief Maurizio Arrivabene and Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta, after Arrivabene had been closeted with Rossi. With TV figures falling in Italy and elsewhere, it is much in Dorna’s interest to get Rossi back up front. Other sources reported stormy scenes at subsequent meetings between Ezpeleta, Yamaha and Lorenzo. The temptation to put two and two together is almost irresistible. But does it make four or five? Rossi has been winless since leaving Yamaha at the end of 2010; the team has been without a sponsor for the same period. Marlboro’s return would also renew long-standing ties with Yamaha broken when it moved to Ducati in 2003. In public Lorenzo has said he would welcome the return of Rossi; in public Rossi has expressed a preference for staying with Ducati, pending discussions with Audi.. MOTOGP >>> NEWS Yamaha Marlboro move would shake MotoGP FOR THE MOVE: He could fight Honda, and strive to add the 18 wins he needs to match Agostini’s record total of 122 AGAINST THE MOVE: He’d be admitting failure with Ducati. “He would look like a loser,” commented former champion and rider safety representative Franco Uncini 10 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: