Fiat/Yamaha deal close

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Yamaha seems poised to clinch a shock sponsorship deal with Italian car giant Fiat for the 2007 MotoGP World Championship.

Although Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards are not currently testing at the Phillip Island circuit, their factory Yamaha team has still been hot gossip in Australia.

It seemed certain that former world champion Rossi would run in corporate colours in the new season that kicks off in Qatar on March 10.

But Fiat are hot favourites to clinch a deal believed to be worth £10m for two years to replace tobacco brand Camel, who quit at the end of the season

Insiders at the second day of testing at Phillip Island in Australia claim that an official announcement could come as early as tomorrow (Thursday).

The deal is a major surprise because of Yamaha’s close links with Toyota, and also Rossi’s close connections to Subaru, who he raced for in his second world rally in New Zealand last November.

Yamaha remains tight-lipped about a Fiat deal and a spokesman said: “Negotiations are on-going with a number of interested parties and we can’t add anything further than that at this stage.”

Rossi and Edwards resume their winter testing at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia next Monday (February 5).

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt