Although Max Biaggi has stated that he will leave Yamaha at the end of this season, the Roman Emperor has yet to sign with a new team. His main options appear to be between the new Ducati team and a possible seat at West Honda Pons.

Either team would have its relative strengths and weaknesses, although Biaggi has always maintained that his decision will be based purely on competitiveness - namely his long sought after MotoGP title - and not money.

Therefore, in terms of giving the Italian his best chance of challenging champion Valentino Rossi, Biaggi faces a stark choice.

Firstly, should he take a step into the 'unknown' with Ducati, a team whose resources and racing pedigree will surely stand them in good stead - but will they be capable of challenging for the World Championship in their first season...? Despite their rigorous testing programme it would seem unlikely, given the level of competition provided by Honda.

A switch to Ducati would therefore appear as more of a long-term venture, with Biaggi able to develop a bike around his riding style - providing that he could overcome the challenge of likely teammate Troy Bayliss.

The alternative would be a move to Honda, or more specifically a team running a Honda RC211V. This would provide Biaggi with a motorcycle comparable with Rossi, although it seems highly unlikely that Vale would have his arch rival at the works Repsol Honda outfit.

The next best Honda option would appear to come from a seat at West Honda Pons - the top two-stroke team this year and team champions in 2001. Neither current Pons rider, Alex Barros or Loris Capirossi, have signed with the team for next year - despite the news that the team will have one RCV for the last four races of this year, and almost certainly run a pair of the all conquering machines next season.

A more unlikely option would be Peter Clifford's Red Bull squad, who are currently competing with Yamaha two strokes. The team appear to have secured a supply of RCV's for next season, with Garry McCoy confirmed as one of the pilots. However, it is rumoured that the team will be using a different (non-Honda) chassis, due to the huge demand on HRC for the machines.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen who Yamaha will select to replace Biaggi alongside Carlos Checa on their factory YZR-M1 for 2003, or how many (if any) of the rapidly improving machines will be available to 'privateer' teams.



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