David Miller: Yamaha’s two-pronged Rossi retirement problem

Picture: Yamaha Racing

Yamaha face a two-pronged problem should cash cow Valentino Rossi decide to hang it up at the end of the 2018 season - a decision he will probably make before next year’s Mugello race.

The first is, obviously, who will replace him? The second may well be how to fit the almost inevitable Sky VR|46 MotoGP team into its roster for 2019.

Rossi will be keen to keep his ties with the Japanese manufacturer as his academy riders move onwards into the blue riband class and the association with the 46 brand is equally as important for Yamaha. It could be that Herve Poncharal is the man to suffer.

Of course, Rossi won’t just look at Yamaha but it’s a pretty safe bet that if there is a MotoGP squad for the academy, it will be using M1s. KTM are actively seeking partners for the 2019 season and the Tech3 outfit with Poncharal at its head could provide them with a satellite solution.

Tech3 have been with Yamaha for 17 years so far, enjoying not inconsiderable success but you can bet the hand of Carmelo Ezpeleta will be at work on the strings should his walking ATM decide to head into management full time.

KTM have no option but to look at current satellite teams for 2019. No extra grid slots will be made available until at least 2021 – unless Rossi has a massive tantrum – so the Austrians have Tech3, Avintia, Aspar, Marc VDS and possibly Pramac to talk to. The smart money goes on Tech3.

You can also bet your last baguette Poncharal won’t take it lying down - he is also the president of IRTA - so KTM might not have much of a say if MotoGP wants to keep the yellow flag flying above its local branch of Credit Suisse.

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