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Where will Abe go?

Following Wednesday's announcement that Ruben Xaus and Toni Elias will ride for the Tech 3 Yamaha team next season, the future of Norick Abe – one of the team's 2004 riders – remains uncertain.

Abe rode alongside Marco Melandri at Herve Poncharal's factory supported outfit this season, but while Melandri has already moved to Telefonica Honda, Abe is yet to announce his future.

The Japanese rider stunned the 500cc world when he battled for victory as a 19-year-old wild-card in the 1994 Japanese Grand Prix – a performance that would see him gain a full time GP ride the following season.

Norick has been a Yamaha rider ever since, claiming three premier-class victories for the marque. His race career was briefly halted for 2003, when he stepped down to the role of factory test rider for the YZR-M1 project - but still competed as a wild-card and substitute rider in several events - before he returned to full time competition with Tech 3 this year.

However, Abe's best finish in 2004 was just seventh (twice) and he finished 13th in the final world championship standings - the lowest of the four Yamaha riders.

The 29-year-old's options now look limited to a return to the role of Yamaha M1 test rider, a possible place at Fuchs Kawasaki - should they find the budget to enter a third rider in 2005 - or a race seat in another series.

While the former may be most likely, it is no secret that Yamaha aim to claim every major motorcycle racing championship next year to celebrate their 50th anniversary. As such, Abe's talents might be more appreciated by Yamaha in a racing role.

With all the company's 2005 MotoGP seats now occupied, the Japanese factory could well want Abe to contest either the World or British Superbike championships. The AMA Superbike series is not thought to be a realistic option.

In WSBK there will be two factory assisted Yamaha teams in 2005 - Yamaha Italia and Yamaha France.

Yamaha Italia have recently tested with the first of their new two riders, Andrew Pitt, at Valencia. Pitt's team-mate is expected to be Noriyuki Haga, with an announcement expected at the end of December when his current Renegade option is believed to expire.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Abe, Japanese MotoGP, 2004
Abe, Valencia MotoGP, 2004
Abe, Capirossi, Melandri, Barros, Hopkins, Valencia MotoGP Race, 2004
Vinales, Zarco, Rossi, French MotoGP 2017
Vinales, Yamaha 500th win French MotoGP 2017
Poncharal, Jarvis, Spanish MotoGP 2017
Rossi, Aleix Espargaro Spanish MotoGP race 2017
Pedrosa, Dovizioso, Folger Spanish MotoGP 2017
Spare bodywork, Grand Prix of the Americas, 2017.
Spare bodywork, Grand Prix of the Americas, 2017.
Rossi, Jarvis, Vinales, Argentinian MotoGP race 2017
Folger`s Yamaha swingarm and exhaust, Argentinian MotoGP 2017
Rossi, Argentinian MotoGP 2017
Rossi, Crutchlow practice start, Argentinian MotoGP 2017
Vinales, Marquez, Rossi, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Vinales, Marquez, Rossi, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Aleix Espargaro, Rossi, Vinales Qatar MotoGP 2017
Vinales, Espargaro, Qatar MotoGP 2017

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