Discussions are underway that could see Marlboro fund a return to the Factory Yamaha team for struggling MotoGP superstar Valentino Rossi next season.
That's the claim made by Spanish publication Motocuatro.com
which reports that - despite Rossi's public insistence that he would like to remain with Ducati and positive comments about new owner's Audi - meetings were held at the Italian Grand Prix between Rossi and Marlboro's Maurizio Arrivabene, then Arrivabene and Dorna's Carmelo Ezpeleta.
Marlboro switched its sponsorship from Yamaha to Ducati when the Italian manufacturer joined MotoGP in 2003, although advertising restrictions mean the Marlboro name is never seen on the race bikes.
Seven time MotoGP champion Rossi has been without a victory since leaving Yamaha at the end of 2010, while Yamaha has been without a title sponsor since Fiat left at the end of that same season.
2012 title leader Jorge Lorenzo has already re-signed for Yamaha, but the second Factory M1 ride - currently occupied by Ben Spies - remains undecided.
Rossi won four titles for Yamaha between 2004-2010, when he also claimed 46 of his record 79 race wins. The Doctor has taken just two podiums since joining Ducati and is presently sixth in the world championship.
Repsol Honda has signed Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez for next year, meaning Rossi's factory team options are restricted to either Yamaha or Ducati.
Rossi raced for Honda from 2000-2003 and a ride with a satellite RCV team remains theoretically possible, but would Rossi really be willing to settle for third-best - behind Pedrosa and Marquez - in the Honda pecking order?