Valentino Rossi has taken a surprising stand in negotiations for a new contract - and could risk losing the chance to defend his MotoGP crown.

According to the rumour mill, the charismatic Italian is apparently refusing to sign a new deal with Honda until guarantees over the use of his name in company promotions are received. The rider is a big star in Japan, where marketing provides a strong fanbase for Honda. However, the stand has already cost him the chance of riding in Honda's four-stroke test this week - and could cost him his ride with the Japanese company in this year's new-look series.

Indeed, according to sources, should the stand-off reach its ultimate point, Rossi could even part company with the dominant force in the former GP500 class, although neither side is thought to want the situation to escalate that far. Until a contract is agreed, however, Rossi is unable to ride the promising new RC211V as he is not insured.

Neither side has commented extensively on the issue, but both are believed to be working towards a solution before the first IRTA test next month.



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