Cal Crutchlow has revealed that he has held initial talks about moving to a factory MotoGP team for next year after his superb start to the season.
Crutchlow, 26, has consistently been the top non-factory rider this season and has finished fourth twice.
He told BBC Sport: "At the end of the year I hope to be sitting on a factory bike, and my preference is Yamaha.
"I've had some contact with teams but they are just first talks. Any move will be at least two months away."
Crutchlow has been in excellent form on his Tech 3 Yamaha this season, qualifying on the front row of the grid in Qatar and and ending the race in Jerez just 2.5 seconds behind winner Casey Stoner.
Stoner's shock decision to retire at the end of this year has started the debate over who will move where early this season, with Crutchlow looking a good bet to replace the out-of-sorts Ben Spies at the factory Yamaha team.
That would see him partner 2010 world champion Jorge Lorenzo - unless Lorenzo moves to take the coveted spot at Repsol Honda which is being vacated by Stoner.
"If you warrant it then it's right to be able to go to the factory team," Crutchlow added.
"All I can do is do my best and see what comes my way. If it happens it happens and if not I'll go and drive a van for a living or something.
"Until the best guys in the world move, you can't move, it's as simple as that.
"Casey leaving opens up one space but I don't see it changing the market too much."
Former World Superbike winner Spies was a race winner for Yamaha last season but has struggled so far in 2012, with only one top-10 finish to his name.
Should Crutchlow leave the Tech3 team after this year, his place will be taken by fellow Briton Bradley Smith - who has already signed a deal for 2013.
Crutchlow lies fourth in the standings and believes the 12-year wait for a British rider to step on to the podium in MotoGP could soon be over.
"We've done our homework over the last year and if we continue to make progress like we have done then by the end of the year there's no reason why we can't be up there consistently," he said.
"The expectation is high now because I was close to a race win in Jerez.
"But it gets harder every year. We are not far away.
"It won't be long before we are on the podium but I'd prefer to do it at Silverstone in a few weeks' time rather than in Catalunya!"
Crutchlow also backed Stoner's shock decision to leave the sport at the end of the year.
He said: "If you've lost the passion then you don't want to keep going out risking your life - which is what we do.
"You can't stop the man from retiring.
"But it is disappointing for the championship as he's the fastest man in the world.
"We are losing one of the best but hopefully it won't impact the sport."