Valentino Rossi looks set to keep the world waiting anxiously for an answer on his future for a few more days yet.
It seems all the huge speculation surrounding his future won’t come to an end until next weekend’s Australian GP at Phillip Island, despite rumours he would confirm his plans immediately after Sunday’s Sepang clash.
Speaking after first qualifying for Sunday’s Malaysian GP at Sepang, where the 24-year-old Italian could wrap up a fifth world title, Rossi refused to give anything away about his 2004 plans, despite having big-money offers from Honda and Yamaha on the table.
For once the heat was off the Repsol Honda rider, who has been locked in talks about renewing his HRC deal for months, and instead the focus of media attention this afternoon was on his manager Gibo Badioli.
Badioli arrived into Kuala Lumpur late last night (Thursday October 9) and was besieged at the track today, although the paddock seems no nearer learning what Rossi is going to do.
Half the paddock seem to believe he’ll stay put on Honda’s dominant RCV, while half remain convinced he is going to take a massive gamble on jump ship to Yamaha because that’s the new challenge he is looking for.
Rossi revealed at a pre-event press conference he had signed nothing, and that press reports of him committing his future were off the mark.
He confirmed again today that he had rejected Honda’s so-called take-it-or-leave offer issued at the Twin Ring Motegi last weekend.
It seems now Badioli has come to Sepang with a revised contract, and it is now for HRC to see if they agree to the terms – though he did admit riding for Yamaha would offer him the motivation and challenge he has sought throughout his career.
Rossi said: " I don’t think it will be this weekend because for sure Honda takes its time now, maybe a few more days. We will have to wait and see. I’m trying to concentrate on winning the championship on Sunday. "
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