Former 250cc world champion Olivier Jacque has ruled himself out of the 2004 MotoGP world championship, after his search for a race seat proved fruitless.

Jacque has ridden for Herve Poncharal's Tech 3 team for the past nine seasons, the highlight of which was undoubtedly his last gasp title victory over team-mate Shinya Nakano in the 2000 season finale at Phillip Island.

However, the Frenchman has never been able to repeat his quarter-litre performances in the premier-class, which he entered in 2001, and with Valentino Rossi moving to Yamaha next season, all the M1 riders have found their positions under threat. OJ has been left without a ride due to Marco Melandri being moved from the factory Fortuna team to the current Gauloises outfit.

Jacque's only hope of remaining at Yamaha was if 2003 team-mate Alex Barros was allowed to move to Repsol Honda, but that looks increasingly unlikely - and test rider Norick Abe may well be called up in favour of Jacque even if Barros does move.

Nevertheless, Jacque has always been well backed by sponsors and a move to Aprilia alongside Shane Byrne had looked possible... but Jeremy McWilliams is now 99% assured of that ride, leaving Jacque with little alternatives.

"Rather than risk getting disenchanted by what might be average results with an uncompetitive machine next season, I'd rather do something else and take a year out: Unless I can find a promising opportunity very quickly then I won't be in MotoGP next year," Jacque stated.

"If the chance comes up to replace another rider next year then of course I'll take it, but otherwise I'd rather keep my motivation high by competing in other motorcycle disciplines, at a high level," he added.

Jacque's best result this year was a fourth at the two-part French Grand Prix - his best result in the premier-class - and he would finish the 2003 season in twelfth, ahead of only the struck Marco Melandri, and behind fellow Yamaha riders' Carlos Checa, Barros and Shinya Nakano.

The #19's best performance since 2000 was at the 2002 German Grand Prix, where he started from pole position and was leading the race in the closing stages... until taken out by Barros.

 

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