WITH Casey Stoner leaving Repsol Honda at the end of the season the factory team are on the hunt for a replacement for the reigning MotoGP champion, with the rumoured favourites in line for the ride appearing to be Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi and Moto2 front-runner Marc Marquez.
Of the three Lorenzo seems to be the first to have made a move in speaking to Honda as the Spaniard's manager has already met with HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto, as revealed in an interview with GPOne.
"Yes, I have already spoken to Jorge’s manager here in Barcelona as he wanted to see me," said Nakamoto. "Not a negotiation but just introducing ourselves. That is quite normal to see someone, when he asks to see you."
The 2010 MotoGP champion's contract with the factory Yamaha team ends at the end of 2012 and manager Lin Jarvis had hopes of finalising a deal after Catalunya.
In regards to Rossi returning to Honda, Nakamoto mentioned that the Italian has yet to speak with him, but any chance of seeing the seven-time MotoGP champion in Repsol colours is unlikely. Nakamoto stated that there is no place for him in the factory team but he is welcome to his own satellite entry if he can "bring a big sponsorship and that will be welcomed by many teams," he added.
The other option of promoting Marquez to the Repsol team is also unlikely as the MotoGP ruling of no rookies in a factory team looks like it is here to stay. However, many believe that when the Spaniard moves to the premier class he will be in his own team on a factory RCV - similar to Rossi's debut in the 500s on the Nastro Azzurro Honda.