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Five-Time World Champ Jorge Lorenzo Signs Two-Year Deal With Ducati

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Five-time World champion (two 250 cc GP and three MotoGP) Jorge Lorenzo is leaving Yamaha next year for the Ducati MotoGP team according to press releases received this morning by MD. Lorenzo won the championship last year in a close battle with Movistar Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi, and currently lies second in championship points to Honda’s Marc Marquez in the 2016 championship series.

During his racing career, Lorenzo has consistently been one of the top riders … one that teams can count on to deliver podiums and wins. In his MotoGP career, he has occasionally gone on streaks (winning three, four, and even five, races in a row) where he seems to ride “inch perfect”, take pole and run away from the field on the first lap. He has also had his share of crashes and DNFs. He is probably the smoothest rider in MotoGP at the moment (with Max Biaggi gone), and when he can trust his tires his opponents are in big trouble.

Ducati has had mixed fortune over the years in MotoGP. At times, its bike has been so difficult to ride it has literally destroyed the confidence of otherwise successful MotoGP racers (Marco Melandri comes to mind). For a while, only the brilliant Casey Stoner could ride the Ducati near the front. Even the legendary Valentino Rossi found the machine a frustrating mystery when he spent two years with the brand.

Now, of course, with Gigi Dall’Igna at the helm, the current iteration of the Ducati MotoGP bike is certainly competitive and capable of winning (a certain double podium in Argentina was scuppered just a few hundred feet from the checkered flag a few weeks ago when Andrea Iannone took out teammate Andrea Dovizioso). Otherwise, Ducati has been on the podium at both Qatar and Austin this year. The current machine corners well and has devastating speed on the straights.

Rumor has it Ducati has put together a compensation package for Lorenzo worth in the neighborhood of $20 million per year. In return, Ducati will expect nothing less than a World championship from the talented Mallorcan.

Here are press releases from both Ducati and Yamaha:

From Ducati:

Ducati announces that it has reached an agreement with Jorge Lorenzo thanks to which the Spanish rider will take part in the MotoGP World Championship in 2017 and 2018 aboard the Ducati Desmosedici GP of the Ducati Team.

Lorenzo, born in Palma de Mallorca on 4 May 1987, has won five world championship titles throughout his racing career (250cc in 2006 and 2007 and MotoGP in 2010, 2012 and 2015).

From Yamaha:

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. announces that its partnership with Jorge Lorenzo will be discontinued at the close of the 2016 MotoGP season, when Lorenzo will move on to new racing challenges.

Since Lorenzo joined the Yamaha Factory Racing Team in 2008, Lorenzo and Yamaha won three MotoGP World Championships (2010, 2012 and 2015), clinched 41 race wins and have been on the podium 99 times out of 141 races contested.

Yamaha is extremely grateful for Jorge’s contributions to its racing successes and looks forward to sharing more memorable moments during the remaining 15 MotoGP rounds of 2016, their ninth season together.

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. wishes Lorenzo the very best in his future racing endeavours and reconfirms the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team’s full support on his campaign to achieve his fourth MotoGP title.

Having already reconfirmed Valentino Rossi for 2017-18, Yamaha will announce the future  Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team riders’ line-up in due course after securing the services of the second rider.


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69 Comments

  1. Bill C says:

    See ya George. Can’t wait to hear the excuses next year when he is struggling with the red bike. He’s already used helmet foam in his eyes and a fogging visor, next year he will have some other mysterious ailment to blame, I’m sure.

  2. LarryC says:

    Everyone is saying things like Viñales to Yammy or Pedro to Suzuki. Think outside the box. Lots of Moto 2 riders wanting a crack at MotoGP. Remember how surprised everyone was when Honda hired Marquez? Until they saw him ride. How’s that working out so far? I think you’ll see a new face, at least at Yamaha.

  3. EZMark says:

    And Marquez and his fans rejoice.

  4. Provologna says:

    This news is as strange as the image of Lorenzo w/those weird sunglasses.

    If MM mounts a ride other than Big Red, I can and shall root for him, full throat, and full throttle.

  5. Brinskee says:

    …to the surprise of no one. Glad he’s making the change, it’s always great for the sport. I wouldn’t be surprised if he picks up a titles with them. Exciting stuff, hopefully Viñales gets the other Yamaha seat and Iannone keeps his. Wonder where Dovi will end up? Joining Hayden at WSBK? And when will Honda announce that they’re parting ways with Pedrosa?

    • mickey says:

      I’m afraid this might be Dani’s last year on the Honda squad. If it is, I hope he picks up the Suzuki ride if Vinales defects.

      • pacer says:

        I didn’t think about Pedrosa to Suzuki. Him and the Andre left out would be good for Suzuki. If Vinales does leave and I were in charge, I would give the idea of two new riders serious thought.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I get that feeling too. I also suspect he might end up at Suzuki.

  6. Vrooom says:

    Who is Ducati dumping? Dovi or Iannone. Iannone seems faster, but crashes a lot. Vinales would make sense for Yamaha, but I’ll bet Suzuki is willing to write quite a check to keep him.

  7. mickey says:

    Clearly some of you guys are not familiar with the phrase ” Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday”. What other incentive do the manufacturers have for their billions of yen or lire investment in racing?

    Ducati is no doubt counting on Lorenzo’s talent and the association with Stoner to sell more than just a few Ducati’s. $20 million a year for Lorenzo? That’s a lot of Multistradas and Panigales they are going to have to sell.

    • TF says:

      “That’s a lot of Multistradas and Panigales they are going to have to sell.”

      And A3’s and A4’s and A5’s and A6’s and A7’s and A8’s…………

  8. Neil says:

    I ride a HONDA. I don’t pay attention to “Rossi’s” bike, which does not even remotely resemble a street bike. I watch WSBK for THAT and Kawasaki is cleaning up there with Ducati and Honda on their heels.

  9. jimmihaffa says:

    It’s the right move at the right time for JL. Clearly, Ducati has vastly improved the performance of their machine (Audi engine tech? calling on Norm G). The only move that makes sense from here is the displacement of the team player-unwilling Iannone from the Duc factory team with a jump to Yamaha alongside his pal Rossi. Vinales has more to gain establishing his identity under the Suzuki banner than a potential understudy to Rossi, who he could easily show up.

    • pacer says:

      Everyone will agree that Rossi is in the twilight of his career, but he ain’t dead. Without the bs end of last season he could have won a championship, and he is starting on the front row this year. He is one of four guys that shared victories in the past long time, and this has happened since he was written off as of a result of his affair with Ducati. You are correct about Vinales, he has a bunch of victories in his future.

  10. hh says:

    Inevitable, champions switching bikes and winning, or not. Think recently Rossi and Stoner.The question is when will Mark make the switch and where? Make it real interesting Mark! Switch to Yamaha and put it the face of Rossi and Lorenzo or move to duc if they have the money and put it to Rossi and Lorenzo that way. And to those it may concern, I am sure 46 appreciates your deep reverence for his powers on and off the track, but he had nothing to do with this, or did he ? hahaha.

  11. Marc says:

    I wonder how Yamaha’s support of Lorenzo will change for the rest of this season?
    Hope they sign Maverick!
    One look in the stands will tell you why Yamaha like Rossi. The view is money.

    • WJF says:

      I wonder how the fans at the race actually translate into money for yamaha….I’m a Rossi fan but ride a suzuki

      • mickey says:

        They sell a lot of blue/white R3’s, R6’s and R-1’s, and go to a race and see how many people are wearing Rossi gear and I imagine Yamaha gets a piece of that as well.

  12. Fred says:

    Big Hint: Stoner for Yamaha No2 rider. 3 Factory Moto GP Teams, who else has that record amongst the Aliens?

  13. Aussie M says:

    Great news! MotoGP gets boring at times and this should ‘spice’ things up a bit. Lorenzo will probably have to battle for wins instead of just riding away out front. And it should mean that a third brand will win races instead of it always being Honda or Yamaha.

  14. Yoyodyne says:

    Earlier this year Rossi said:

    “To sign with Ducati, you need to be brave, you need big balls. So I think Lorenzo stays with Yamaha.”

    And Jorge seems to have swallowed the bait…

  15. Hot Dog says:

    Yamaha has nobody to blame but themselves for letting JLo get away. This is a HUGE mistake on their part but apparently they drank the Rossi Kool-Aid and would rather sell more T-shirts than win races. This is just great, a Carnival Barker who oozes a vile poisonous atmosphere on other racers/team mates, is going to lead Yamaha. I hope Zuki gives Maverick a big raise and keeps him on their bike. Too bad Jim Jones isn’t around, Rossi and him could compare Kool-Aid.

    • Curly says:

      Gee Dog, careful not to get any of that on ya. Yamaha will do just fine with Rossi and a new team mate. Just look at the crowds at the races to see who their favorite is. (Hint: not Jorge)

      • Hot Dog says:

        You’re right Curly, I stepped in a Rossi pie and I can’t get it off my boot.

        • TimC says:

          May’ve stepped in a crow pie…we will see in due time of course

          • Ron H. says:

            Dog is just stomping his feet and pouting. He should probably just watch NASCAR. Still wish MM would go to KTM next year. THAT would make motoGP very interesting.

          • Hot Dog says:

            Sir, yes we shall. In the mean time, the “Holy than thou” attitude that is extended to the “Greatest Of All Time”, will stand the test of time. We shall see.

            And I don’t believe in modern day witchcraft, plaid shirts or NASCAR. Smoke that.

          • pacer says:

            Hey Hot Dog. You need to relax! There’s nothing wrong with plaid. 🙂

    • Scott says:

      Try not to take it so personally, Dog. You’re getting awfully worked up over something you have no control over.

      Yamaha is a business. Rossi makes a lot more money for Yamaha than Lorenzo. Simple as that.

    • Ron H. says:

      Are you stomping your feet and pouting?

    • Thou Shalt says:

      It may be a HUGE mistake to let Jorge go or it could be the best thing for Yamaha. Jorge fits the Yamaha like a glove, unlike OJ. But, the Ducati has always been a bike for the wild rider and Jorge is not that. You could say someone like Stoner who “tames” a bike fits the Ducati bike profile the best. Jorge is a fine tuned instrument kind of guy and the Ducati has never been that machine. As far as poisonous atmosphere hubbub, you need to set the pipe down. Rossi is the all time great for a reason, no fanboi or hater can deny or change that, championships, longevity in the sport, and wins on multiple manufacturers solidify that fact. This is a good thing for MotoGP fans, so we can see what a big mix up in the Aliens will do for racing. For the factories, we will see.

  16. bikerrandy says:

    Well, Rossi got his way and is #1 rider again @ Yamaha. Personally I think Yamaha made a bad decision here. Rossi may still be competitive but I don’t see him wining asy more titles. Maybe Rossi brings more sponsor $ to Yamaha?

    I wish Lorenzo all the best.

    • VLJ says:

      Yamaha didn’t make this decision, Lorenzo did. Yamaha wanted him to stay. He chose to leave.

    • PatrickD says:

      Rossi made the ultimatum to Yamaha a few years ago. And they called his bluff.

      My query is that Rossi obviously does not enjoy having a fast team mate. A wing man in the mould of Edwards is more to his liking. I don’t think he’d take kindly to having Vinales snapping at his heels, or even wiping his nose of the way past.

      So will Yamaha instead go for a benign team mate? Dovi, for instance? How much clout does Rossi have with this issue, I wonder?

    • Vrooom says:

      Given Rossi extended his contract long before this happened, I doubt he had much control. Lorenzo went with a paycheck.

  17. WJF says:

    20 million a year, that will send MM a lot of candy and flowers…

  18. mickey says:

    must have been one heck of a signing bonus

  19. TexinOhio says:

    Iannone is on thin ice after dive bombing Dovi a couple races back. To the point that Ducati did not announce Iannones re-signing with the team like they planned and said it would be “discussed” later…

    So Lorenzo and Dovi. Vale and Mavrick?

  20. xLaYN says:

    Rossi did it and it didn’t went so well… although the bike back then wasn’t as refined as it is now.
    Who will get the other Yami?
    2017 will be a hell of a year!

    • TF says:

      “Who will get the other Yami?”

      Maverick

      The big question is who gets bumped from Ducati and where do they go? Personally, I think Dovi is better for the brand and less likely to be bumped.

      Yeah, 2017 is going to be fun.

    • TexinOhio says:

      Not sure Lorenzo should be betting on the opinion of Stoner. Stoner rides a bike like he’s breaking a wild horse. Lorenzo needs his bike on rails and smooth to do anything with it.

    • WT says:

      Who will get other Yami?

      Casey Stoner!!

      • xLaYN says:

        Seems like Casey it’s one of those legends that we want back again proving he can and would do it.
        Nothing will be more “in your face” than CS getting on board of a bike (bonus points for doing it on an underdog bike) and winning the first race he got into.

        But what if… just if… he can’t keep up?

        Rossi is a legend, last year I thought maybe he’ll do it, another championship but he got the lead on points because Jorge wan’t doing his best due to one reason or the other; in the end (put here a lot of circumstances that we can discuss ad infinitum) he didn’t do it.

        What if MM is way faster than he is?

      • Tim says:

        I wouldn’t bet my life on it or anything, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if Yamaha pushes hard for Marquez now. It wouldn’t be the first time they hired away Honda’s star rider in his prime.

        • Scotty D says:

          Wow, now that would be something to see. I’d love to see that, but I don’t believe we’ll never see that pair on the same team

          • Tim says:

            I agree it seems like an unlikely match, but who would have thought we would ever see Rossi and Lorenzo on the same team again after their uncomfortable first pairing?

          • Tim says:

            I agree it seems like an unlikely match, but who would have thought we would ever see Rossi and Lorenzo on the same team again after their uncomfortable first pairing? It worked out pretty well for Yamaha with a one – two finish last season.

            I’ve had a theory that Honda doesn’t like its riders overshadowing their bikes. Despite the deepest pockets in the business, they’ve let their stars get away in the past.