Marc VDS is moving towards a deal with Yamaha to replace Tech 3 as the Japanese manufacturer’s satellite team from 2019, Motorsport.com understands.
Marc VDS has been supplied by Honda since its graduation to MotoGP in 2015, but the Belgian squad is primed to make a switch for next year.
Team boss Michael Bartholemy has previously expressed frustrations in the team's relationship with Honda, which in turn has strengthened ties with LCR, which is now running factory-contracted riders Cal Crutchlow and Takaaki Nakagami.
Meanwhile, Tech 3 will end its lengthy Yamaha affiliation at the end of the current campaign, having opted to align itself with newest manufacturer entrant KTM from 2019 onwards.
Both the Avintia and Angel Nieto teams demonstrated an interest in picking up the M1s, but the influence of Valentino Rossi – who recently renewed with Yamaha through 2020 – has played a role.
Reigning Moto2 champion Franco Morbidelli – the leading member of Rossi’s VR46 Academy – is contesting his maiden MotoGP campaign with Marc VDS, potentially facilitating future negotiations.
It was a topic raised by Yamaha’s MotoGP chief Lin Jarvis at last weekend’s Qatar season opener.
"We have a relationship with VR46 Academy," said Jarvis. “We analyse the market in general, but we have this agreement with the VR46 structure and the idea is to have one of its riders with us at the proper time.
“A good example of that is Morbidelli: we had the chance and we were really interested on him.
“But at that moment, Jonas Folger and Johann Zarco had already signed their contracts with Tech 3, and Rossi and [Maverick] Viñales had signed with us. We didn’t have a bike for him.
“[Francesco] Bagnaia is another interesting example because when Tech 3 decided to leave us, we were at that time considering the possibility of placing Pecco [Bagnaia] there.”
Marc VDS is understood to have held protracted discussions with Suzuki, but the ongoing hesitation over the marque’s decision whether or not to field satellite bikes prompted a switch in focus to Yamaha.
Translation by Irene Aneas