Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow have played down speculation that they are to join forces in a factory Yamaha dream team to compete in the Suzuka 8-hour endurance race in late July.
Just hours after 1993 world 500cc champion Kevin Schwantz announced that he will make a shock return to racing in the 8-hour in a team with Yukio Kagayama and Noriyuki Haga, speculation was rife that Italian Rossi was also planning to appear in the event that remains a blue riband race for the Japanese factories.
Rossi, who won the race back in 2001 when riding a Honda with Texan Colin Edwards, confirmed to MCN in Jerez that he had spoken with British rider Crutchlow about racing together on a factory-backed Yamaha R1.
The big issue though is the lack of testing time Rossi and Crutchlow would have to prepare for the race on July 28, given the hectic schedule they face in MotoGP.
The 8-hour comes just one week after the Laguna Seca race in California and another huge stumbling block is getting Yamaha to commit resources to launch a full factory attack on a race it hasn’t won since Edwards and Haga triumphed on a YZF-750 way back in 1996.
When asked by MCN about the 8-hour rumour in Jerez yesterday (Thursday) in Jerez, nine-times world champion Rossi said: "I think no because the world championship schedule is very difficult now. We never have one long break. We have just one and that is the moment of the 8-hour. I love and I'd like a lot to do the 8-hour with Yamaha and to do it together with Cal.
For me it would be a great feeling but to make the 8-hour is very heavy. You have to test and also after the race you have a problem with your body for two or three months because 8-hour is like doing four MotoGP races in a row. I think no, also if I want to do."
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Crutchlow gave his opinion on the 8-hour rumour too when he attended the pre-event press conference.
Crutchlow said: "It is a gruelling event and of course I’d look at it. It is not something that has been discussed openly outside of closed doors. My concentration is on MotoGP and doing the best job I can for the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha Team but if an opening arises to go there then I can at least go and battle with Kevin I’m sure. It may happen and it may not but I have heard nothing about it so far.”