LORENZO SEES RED
World champion on the brink of big-money switch to Ducati in 2017
Reigning Motogp world champion Jorge Lorenzo looks odds on to become a Ducati rider for the 2017 and 2018 Motogp seasons, ending a long and lucrative partnership with Yamaha.
MCN understands that the move, which has been speculated about for weeks, is now believed to be a verbally done deal and there will be an official announcement of the tie up between the three-time Motogp champion and the Italian manufacturer when the championship returns to Europe at Jerez in three weeks time.
Lorenzo has been able to see the GP16 specification Desmosedici up close in recent weeks and, like the rest of the paddock, can only be impressed by what he’s seen. His expected switch also comes just weeks after former champion Casey Stoner admitted that he now believes that the Ducati is good enough to win.
Rumours in Argentina last weekend claim Ducati has prepared a highly lucrative offer for the Spaniard, backed by the combined finances of long-time sponsor tobacco giant Phillip Morris and of owners Audi, both of whom are keen to see the team win races and championships.
Reports in the Italian press that Lorenzo has been offered more than £8.5 million to make the switch, were given some credence by Grand Prix legend Giacomo Agostini, who says he believes the champion has been offered a ‘super deal’. If it’s true it would make Lorenzo higher paid than Valentino Rossi, but it’s unlikely that money alone has been the deciding factor.
Despite five world titles across two classes, Lorenzo isn’t perceived to have achieved the level of greatness attained by some of his peers. A Motogp crown riding a Ducati would go a long way towards securing his place in the alltime hall of fame.
To make it even sweeter, there’s the possibility to do something that Rossi couldn’t do – making a winning switch from Yamaha to Ducati. With tensions between the duo as high now as at any point since before Rossi himself made the ill-fated switch to the Italian manufacturer, there would be no greater way to rub his nemesis’ nose in it, than by achieving Ducati success.
It will also allow the 28-year-old to break free of the Italian’s shadow, moving to a team where he would very clearly expect to be the number one rider as opposed to Yamaha’s current system of treating both riders equally.
And while he wouldn’t confirm the news, Ducati boss Paulo Ciabatti ad- mitted to MCN at the Argentina race that the manufacturer’s intentions for 2017 were to attract one of the sport’s big names to the Ducati team.
“We’ve made no secret about it – we know both Marquez and Lorenzo have their contracts expiring at the end of this season. We’ve been looking into the possibility, and we’ve been talking to the riders. We wouldn’t be doing our job properly if we weren’t looking into it.”
Lorenzo himself was equally evasive about the news, admitting ahead of the weekend’s racing in Argentina that he has had multiple offers – but also claiming that no decision has been made by him.
“The situation is the same as it has been for a while. We need to concentrate on the coming races, and I don’t want to say more than that – I want to keep it private with my people and make a decision in the coming weeks.”
‘Reports claim Lorenzo has been offered over £8.5 million to make the switch’