Valentino Rossi expects to see friend and reigning 250GP world champion Marco Simoncelli graduate to MotoGP - but not with Yamaha.

"I am good friends with Simoncelli; he is a great guy. We train together and last year he surprised me because I knew that he great potential, but I didn't think he would become world champion," Rossi admitted. "I am happy for him; he deserved it. He is staying in 250 and I think that he is the favourite for 2009."

As Rossi indicated, Simoncelli will stay with Gilera to defend his quarter-litre crown against the likes of Alvaro Bautista in 2009, but the Italian has already held discussions with several MotoGP manufacturers - most notably Ducati - and Rossi admits he is unlikely to make his premier-class debut with Yamaha.

"I think that Simoncelli will come to MotoGP, because he is a fast rider and he is very young. In Yamaha, however, we already have Lorenzo and I, so I think that he will be a good prospect for other factories," Rossi stated.

By doubting that Simoncelli will sign for Yamaha, Rossi suggests that Marco will push for a factory MotoGP seat in 2010, rather than a satellite ride, or that he already has some kind of agreement with a rival manufacturer in place.

If Simoncelli was willing to settle for a satellite Yamaha seat, then he would have a strong chance of riding for Tech 3, since both James Toseland and Colin Edwards have no contract beyond the end of this season.

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