The MotoGP championship may already be decided, but there’s still a lot to race for at Phillip Island in Australia this Sunday with many records to be equalled and scores to be settled.

The MotoGP championship may already be decided, but there’s still a lot to race for at Phillip Island in Australia this Sunday with many records to be equalled and scores to be settled.

With two races left in the season, the fight for second and third place is still on, even though it seems firmly in place for Sete Gibernau and Max Biaggi respectively. Gibernau, with 244 points, is destined to become the runner-up with the highest points in the history of senior class biking while Biaggi is just two podiums short of the milestone 100 premier podiums after picking up number 98 at Sepang last week.

And even though the top three positions in the championship are decided, there is still plenty of pride at stake through the rest of the field and there will be a whole host of rivals out to dent Rossi's honour at a spectacular circuit which has hosted some of the closest races in grand prix history.

Australian rookie, Troy Bayliss will return home after a difficult year in the MotoGP class, but he will be doubly determined to re-ignite his season in front of the passionate local crowd at Phillip Island.

While others will be racing for a chance to squeeze in those last valuable points, five-times world champion Valentino Rossi has still to decide where he'll ride next season. With offers streaming in the Italian has said that all his options remain open, but the day of announcement is imminent as most of the other rider’s contract hinge on Rossi’s decision.

At Motegi, Rossi was given what was supposed to be a final offer from Honda, which he turned down. His management then gave HRC a final offer of their own, with no decision being made yet. Prior to Sepang, the Spanish press reported a Yamaha deal had already been signed, but this was denied by Rossi. Yamaha still remain slim favourites to sign the 24-year-old, should he leave Honda, with a rumoured 10 million dollar pay deal (plus sponsorship) on offer
.

Despite all the pressure for him to sign something, Rossi said that he would not rush his decision.

"I don't understand why the other riders are waiting for me - maybe they want my bike!" he joked. "I am sorry for them but really it is not my problem. It is a complicated situation, but the hold-up is not about money, it is about other contract matters. I don't think it will be resolved this weekend."

However more drama unfolded, as reported earlier this week, when Rossi was offered a 'serious' test with the Ferrari Formula One team. Vale has often stated he'd like to follow a four-wheel career after several more years in MotoGP, but he won't be able to drive the world championship winning Marlboro liveried F2003-GA if he signs for Honda or Yamaha. As significantly, if he turns down Ferrari now, they're unlikely to offer again. Many would interpret the offer from Ferrari’s president Luca di Montezemolo as an attempt by Marlboro to lure the MotoGP champion to Ducati next season.

Earlier this year, CARtoday.com quoted Rossi as saying that it was his “dream” to ride for Ducati: “Of course, it is a dream to ride with Ducati. All Italians want to ride for Ducati. And the bike’s fast.”

But the announcement of a Ferrari test offer has presented Rossi with another toss-up, something Rossi wouldn't be able to accept if he stayed with Honda since it has their own rival F1 team, while Yamaha is unlikely to agree as its sponsors won't want the cigarette brand getting what would be massive publicity.

In other words, Rossi would need to sign for Marlboro/Ducati and/or Vodaphone for the once-in-a-lifetime test(s) to happen.

Marlboro already has six-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher on its books at Ferrari, and signing Rossi at Ducati would give it the German's equivalent on two-wheels - while also bringing Rossi's fun-loving and fan-friendly image to contrast with the ultra-professional, but arguably dull, Schumacher.

As well as the Ferrari drive, Ducati could give Valentino a more competitive machine than Yamaha in 2004, and Marlboro could match any pay offer from the Japanese. The downside is that the fun loving Italian would have to do a considerable amount of PR work - something he hates. But if he wants to drive the fastest F1 car in the world, that might be a price worth paying...

Original article from Car