MOTORCYCLE ace James Ellison looks set to become the first British rider in 20 years to win a ride with a full factory-backed MotoGP team.

The charismatic Kendalian had looked set to sign for Pramac d'Antin Ducati after a sparkling test drive, but Tech 3 Yamaha moved in with an 11th-hour bid which could see James start next season on the same type of bike as the one ridden by world champion Valentino Rossi.

Ellison begins a three-day test of the team's 2006 YZR-M1 at Sepang on Monday.

The last-minute offer could be partially about tyres. Dunlop, who back Tech 3 and who have worked with Ellison this season, are keen to maintain the link instead of allowing him to be snapped up by the Ducati outfit, which is currently considering Bridgestone tyres, The Tech 3 offer followed Ellison's impressive Ducati debut when he equalled the time of their number one rider Roby Rolfo.

An additional factor in former World Endurance champion Ellison's favour is his bid to get a competitive ride for next season is that he is the only British rider on the MotoGP scene following the departure of Shane Byrne to the British Superbike series.