Jorge Lorenzo Joins Ducati for 2017 MotoGP?
In regards to brand and image, no manufacturer does it better than Ducati. The Bologna-based brand, which debuted in 1926 as an radio parts company before releasing its first motorcycle in 1946 – the Cucciolo – has a dedicated fan base.
Product wise, it’s not outselling BMW or any of the Japanese four, but mention the word Ducati in any crowd and it quickly conjures an idea of exclusive beauty. In short, Ducati symbolizes romance on wheels.
But that romantic scene is much different in the world of MotoGP – it’s more of a love/hate relationship. The brand has endless MotoGP fans, but from a performance perspective, Yamaha and Honda owns series.
Since joining the premier league of Grand Prix motorcycle racing in 2003, Ducati has earned only one title – and that was with the Aussie Casey Stoner at the controls of the GP7 Desmosedici in 2007. Ducati finished second in 2008 behind Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, but from there the struggles began. Stoner fled, and joined Honda for the 2011 season, earning the title. Stoner cited that besides performance issues, another reason he left Ducati was because the Italian manufacturer was poaching Jorge Lorenzo.
Also in 2011, the picture-perfect unity occurred – Rossi joined Ducati. But the nine-time World Champion struggled greatly, only earning seventh and sixth overall during his two-year contract with Ducati before returning to Yamaha. Before then, the lowest Rossi ever finished a season since joining the premier class in 2000 was third.
Ducati’s struggles continued, though current riders Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone are earning podiums. But a title seems far away.
This is where Jorge Lorenzo enters the picture. The Spaniard joined the premier class in 2008 with Yamaha, and has remained with the Japanese manufacturer ever since, claiming three titles.
Yamaha obviously wants him to remain, and Lorenzo supposedly has until round four at Jerez to decide. But rumors are heavy that Lorenzo will sign with Ducati, which can create an ideal situation for both parties – Lorenzo just may be able the perfect pilot to prove the performance of the Desmo.
Nothing is confirmed, but Rossi is quoted as telling Italian media that: “Yes. I confirm the rumors about Lorenzo and Ducati even if there is nothing official. He had the balls to move. He will do well. Jorge is a great rider and definitely will get good results. The red bike today is a bike which has become competitive.”
A few insiders around the Circuit of the Americas paddock during MotoGP also confirmed these rumors, though again, nothing is official. Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti was hush: “Everyone is talking like we have already made our decision and signed a contract but this is not the case.”
When the question came up during Thursday’s COTA MotoGP press conference, Lorenzo also remained hush: “I cannot tell you any more than in Argentina… I prefer not to tell you something about this matter. When my decision is taken you will all know.”
Insiders tell us to expect the Lorenzo to Ducati news to surface during round four of MotoGP April 24 in Jerez – the first European round.
What will this mean for Ducati? Both contracts for Iannone and Dovi are up at end of the year. Dovi says he’s staying at Ducati is based on results, and Iannone is rumored to have offers from Suzuki.
Speaking of Suzuki, Maverick Vinales was reportedly offered a deal with Yamaha, and if this is true and Lorenzo leaves Yamaha, Vinales will join Rossi, who recently renewed his contract through 2018.
Stay clicked to UltimateMotorCycling.com for further developments.