Tech3 is to end its long association with Yamaha at the end of the 2018 MotoGP season.

And the hot rumour is that the French team will join KTM and receive the very latest factory machinery in 2019.

"We’ve been offered a deal, that includes something we’ve been waiting for almost since we started with Tech3 and I couldn’t say no," team boss Herve Poncharal explains below.

Tech3's surprise move also opens up the possibility of Valentino Rossi's VR46 joining MotoGP to run Yamaha's satellite machines, should existing teams agree to a new entry or if VR46 merge with a current team.

But perhaps 2019 is too soon for such a project, especially as Rossi seems set to continue racing.

Marc VDS, presently with Honda, is another team tipped as interested in the future satellite M1 supply.

If Tech3 are moving to KTM, heavily linked with Red Bull, it seems impossible that they can continue with title sponsor Monster.

“To summarize 20 years of an incredible partnership between Tech3 and Yamaha in a few words is a very difficult mission," said Poncharal.

"Since I first met Mr. Iio in 1998, where he gave me the opportunity to join Yamaha Motor Corporation, it has been an extraordinary journey together.

"All I remember are fantastic memories, great results, an awesome atmosphere and astonishing feelings we shared with the Yamaha family, which will always be in my mind and in my heart.

"Clearly, to end that kind of partnership is a big decision for me. All I want to say is more than a huge thank you to Yamaha, to Mr. Tsuji, Mr. Tsuya, Mr. Jarvis and Mr. Nakajima, plus all the guys that have been supporting and helping us.

"Tech3 is a small company, which has to think about the future and has to weigh the different options.

"We’ve been offered a deal, that includes something we’ve been waiting for almost since we started with Tech3 and I couldn’t say no.

"But obviously, we are the Monster Yamaha Team until the last lap of the Valencia GP 2018. Johann Zarco and Hafizh Syahrin will be fighting for top positions and without a doubt, Yamaha can count on us to be a loyal performant partner.

"One more time a huge thank you for Yamaha’s support. I hope they can carry on and have the success they deserve and eventually find a partner to replace Tech3.”

Kouichi Tsuji, general manager of Yamaha motorsports, made clear it had been Tech3's decision to leave:

"Very recently we were informed by Hervé Poncharal, the owner of Tech3, that he has decided not to extend his contract with Yamaha to lease YZR-M1 bikes.

"After discussions with Hervé it was clear that he has chosen to align with a new partner for the future and therefore, regretfully, we were obliged to respect and accept his decision.

"The end of such a successful partnership is always a bit sad, as it also marks the end of a long-term relationship. We are very grateful for Hervé‘s loyalty and support to the Yamaha brand and for the excellent results obtained throughout that time.

"We will continue to provide our full support to the Tech3 team and their riders throughout the 2018 season, while we simultaneously evaluate our options for an alternative team in the MotoGP World Championship class for 2019 and beyond."

Results - Tech3 Yamaha in MotoGP: 2000-2017

2017 star rookie Johann Zarco will again headline this year's Monster Yamaha Tech3 line-up, with rookie Hafizh Syahrin recently confirmed on the second machine, following the withdraw of Jonas Folger.

Zarco - who claimed three podiums, two poles, sixth in the world championship last year - has been linked with KTM since Valencia in November, where he came within 0.337s of what would have been Tech3's first MotoGP victory.

The assumption had been that Zarco would race in the official KTM team, but perhaps the promise of full-factory KTMs will be enough to keep him at the familiar Tech 3 surroundings.

At present, Tech3 uses year-old Yamaha machinery, although problems with the 2017 chassis mean Zarco has opted to remain on the 2016 design.

Factory riders Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales are using a 2018 chassis very close to the 2016 version.

KTM joined MotoGP at the start of last season, impressing with its rate of progress during the year.

Dorna has been pushing for each factory to supply at least one satellite team and a Tech3-KTM tie-up would leave only Suzuki and Aprilia without a customer project, assuming Yamaha finds a replacement.

Like almost all the factory teams, both of KTM's rider contracts (with former Tech3 team-mates Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro) are up for renewal at the end of 2018.

Maverick Vinales has already re-signed for the official Yamaha team until 2020. Rossi says he intends to race on, but probably won't sign until at least the end of testing.

Today's Tech3-Yamaha statement ended with:

'Tech3 will continue its participation in the MotoGP (and Moto2) World Championship and will announce its plans for 2019 and beyond at a later date.

'Yamaha is in the process of deciding whether they will run a satellite team for 2019 and, if so, what form that collaboration will take.'

It is also rumoured that Tech3 will switch its Moto2 team to KTM machines in 2019.

Official KTM Moto2 riders Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder are thought to have some kind of performance-based MotoGP option in their contracts for 2019, either with a factory or satellite RC16 team.

 

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