Two of Ducati’s satellite MotoGP teams, Angel Nieto and Avintia, have expressed interest in taking over Yamaha’s supply of customer bikes for the 2019 season.
On Thursday, it was announced that the 18-year relationship between Yamaha and its sole satellite team, Tech 3, will be coming to an end after the 2018 campaign.
It leaves Yamaha needing to find an alternative partner to ensure it maintains a four-bike presence on the 2019 grid, while opening up an opportunity for other satellite teams to bid for the opportunity to lease a pair of year-old M1s from the Iwata factory.
Both Nieto (formerly Aspar) and Avintia, which currently run a 2017 and a ’16-spec Ducati each, have indicated to Motorsport.com they would be interested in taking over Tech 3’s supply of Yamahas.
Marc VDS could also enter the bidding, having made it clear in the past that it is unhappy with the state of its relationship with Honda following Jack Miller’s defection to the Ducati camp last year.
However, a spokesperson from the Belgian team told Motorsport.com that “what we want is to link ourselves to a manufacturer which offers us a long-term project.”
This could be a veiled reference to the fact that the two satellite Yamahas could ultimately end up with Valentino Rossi and his VR46 operation when the Italian decides to retire from racing.
Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta told Motorsport.com last year that the seven-time premier class champion’s team would be guaranteed a grid slot to make the step up to MotoGP, despite the current cap of 24 entries.
Should Rossi make the transition from rider to team boss, it seems unlikely he would collaborate with anyone but Yamaha, especially given his past relationships with rival marques Honda and Ducati.
Equally, both Honda and Ducati now have clearly established secondary teams in the form of LCR and Pramac respectively, which both run riders that are contracted directly to their factories.
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