As has been rumoured over the last few weeks, reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo has signed with Ducati for the 2017 season onwards. This means a veritable musical chairs of rider-swapping has been initiated by him – except for the factory Honda riders, of course. Valentino Rossi had announced surprisingly early (before the season-opening Qatar race) that he had re-signed with the Japanese manufacturer for two more seasons. The reasons aren’t just that the doctor is competitive; his apparel manufacturing business is intrinsically linked with the factory Yamaha team.
Lorenzo, though: depending on which side of the fence you’re on, his move can be seen as one of the greats giving himself another challenge. It is always difficult to get on a new motorcycle and start winning quickly – nobody knows this better than his current team-mate Rossi, who has seen both sides of the coin. He won on his first race with the M1 when he switched from the factory Honda team, and he saw no luck at all with Ducati when he spent two seasons there on a bike that only Casey Stoner could ride competitively. If you’re firmly in the ‘against Lorenzo’ camp, it can also be viewed as him taking on the same challenges that Rossi did, and doing better. Of course, the circumstances couldn’t be different this time around – the current Ducati Desmosedici GP16 shows great promise and it seems like it is only a matter of time until it starts winning races, with or without Lorenzo.
Of course, this means that a factory seat is now available on the M1. Bear in mind that for the last few seasons the ONLY winning motorcycles have been either from the Honda or the Yamaha factory team, so what you get is top-class hardware. All you need to do is convince the Yamaha team that you’re worth it. There are a couple of names being tossed about, but it seems very likely that Maverick Vinales of the factory Suzuki team will land Lorenzo’s vacated seat. He’s young, he’s Spanish (which matters when your title sponsor is Movistar) and he’s demonstrated how quick he can be, even with an inferior machine. Just let’s not focus on the fact that his parents named him after Tom Cruise’s call sign in ‘Top Gun’.
For the moment, though, Lorenzo has gone on social media to assure his fans and followers that this won’t make him lose focus. He still intends to win himself one last championship with Yamaha before he moves on to the red team. Game on!