Sepang MotoGP: Valentino Rossi denies Fiat world rally deal

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Valentino Rossi has denied he has already signed a future world rally deal with Fiat – current title sponsors of his Yamaha MotoGP squad.

Rossi’s factory YZR-M1 ran a special one-off livery in last weekend’s Australian MotoGP to mark the relaunch of the Abarth brand in 2007.

Abarth is a division of Fiat but the 28-year-old refuted recent speculation at the Fuji Formula One grand prix he had already got a deal in place to drive for Fiat in the world rally championship once he retires from MotoGP.

Fiat has been working on a new Punto Super 2000 but Valentino Rossi said: “I heard when the F1 was in Japan the story between me and Fiat, but it is not true.

“I know that Fiat make a programme for rally because in rally maybe something change in the rules. In this case Fiat come back at the top level of rally. I know they have a programme but not with me at this moment.”

Valentino Rossi said he was 99 per cent certain that he would have a second crack at the Rally of Great Britain later this year.

Rossi is planning to contest the Wales Rally of GB between November 30 and December 2, 2007.

His first attempt at the GB rally ended in disaster in 2002 when he crashed out of the first serious stage while driving a Michelin-backed Peugoet 206. That came after he’d impressed during a Super Special stage in Cardiff.

Valentino Rossi raced in the final round of the World Rally championship in New Zealand last year, finishing in an impressive 11th place.

He drove a Prodrive-prepared Subaru Impreza in New Zealand and confirmed that he hopes to test the car after a mid-November test session in Sepang in the UK.

“We try to cover all the budget but 95 per cent I will do it. One hundred per cent I will do the Rally of Monza with a Ford Focus like last year,” added Rossi.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt