UPDATE: After qualifying, Valentino Rossi also denied the MotoGP team rumours:
"No. I hear this and I know that MotoGP has one free place. I spoke with Carmelo but for us is impossible, we are not able to make a MotoGP team and not interested also because I think next year together with Sky we arrive in Moto2. We try to make one bike in Moto2. And is enough. It is not true - we do not want to make any MotoGP team."
Valentino Rossi's Sky Racing VR46 squad has denied it plans to apply for the final MotoGP grid slot in 2017.
Reports at lunchtime on Saturday by Spanish TV channel Movistar
claimed that the squad, currently running three bikes in the junior Moto3 category, are interested in fielding a bike in the premier-class next year.
However, team boss Pablo Nieto moved quickly to deny the rumours, stating that the focus for 2017 remains on providing the best possible tools for its riders in both Moto3 and a new Moto2 project.
“In the end our project is to make Moto3 and Moto2. Nothing else. This is our project. It's true everybody come to us to try to say if we will make something in MotoGP, but this is not our project at the moment,” said Nieto, speaking in the Circuit of the Americas paddock after Moto3 qualifying.
“For example, Movistar come to us and they know that sure for the championship is nice if Valentino has one team in MotoGP, but at the moment, it's not our project. We have to make Moto2 next year, that is already confirmed, and the future, you never know.”
The team was keen to stress it is certain they will not apply to enter the premier class. Asked whether a MotoGP move is only realistic after Valentino Rossi has retired as a rider, Nieto replied: “It's strange, even Valentino he doesn't know. We are talking about something we don't know.”
The Spaniard, who is entering his second season in his role as team manager, went on to reveal that it is confirmed the squad will expand to the Moto2 class in 2017 with current Moto3 rider Romano Fenati making the step up in a one-rider team.
Its choice of chassis has yet to be decided, he said, continuing, “At the moment, we have to choose. We don't know which one we will take. But I think we have to take the best bike. Now we have the opportunity to choose, this is the good thing. But at the moment the best bike is Kalex.
“We have talked with KTM, because we saw on the internet that they have one [Moto2] bike [with WP]. If KTM make a very very good bike, why not? But we are in the position that we can choose. If KTM make a very good bike, why not?”
The final position on the premier-class grid is currently open and IRTA have requested any potential candidates to file an official application before April, 29th.
"The final decision on the awarding of this place will be the responsibility of the selection committee comprising delegates of FIM, Dorna and IRTA," read Dorna's official statement in March.
At the moment it is believed two teams have made official applications to take the final grid slot; Lucio Cecchinello (LCR) and Moto2 team boss Sito Pons, who previously ran a race-winning 500cc/MotoGP squad.