MotoGP

Lorenzo: Full-time MotoGP return more likely after test with Yamaha

Three-time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo says the chances of him making a full-time return to the series have increased since his Yamaha test debut, but remain low.

Lorenzo drew a line under a 12-year premier-class career as he walked away from a two-year Honda contract midway through, announcing his retirement at the end of 2019.

Recruited by Yamaha to serve as its test rider in 2020, Lorenzo rode the M1 bike during the Sepang shakedown and felt immediately at ease with it, before taking to the circuit on the last day of the official test on Sunday.

This prompted questions as to whether Lorenzo could yet be tempted to return to MotoGP competition.

When asked during Yamaha’s launch event ahead of the test whether he would consider such an option for 2021, he said: “You know, my first idea when I retired was to retire completely.

“I spent 18 years of my life fully committed to winning, competing, working really hard to get my mission.

“Now I think I’m in a different stage of my life.

“But I also have to say that the other day I enjoyed a lot, riding the Yamaha. I feel again the happiness I didn’t feel for a long time.

“Maybe the last time I felt a professional happiness was when I win in 2018 three races in four, this stage was very happy.

“But unfortunately with injuries, some bad results, I couldn’t feel the same in this last one year and a half.

“And for the moment these three days were very happy for me. So if I say in Valencia [2019] there was 99 percent chance to not come back, now can be 98.”

Lorenzo could make his return to competition as early as this year if he and Yamaha decide to arrange a wildcard outing, with rumours suggesting he could race at the Catalan Grand Prix.

Yamaha has made it clear that it is open to the possibility.

“We have discussed it. It’s optional,” Yamaha managing director Lin Jarvis said.

“So, it’s optional for Jorge and optional for us.

“If he feels he would like to do and if we have the capacity to do it, then we will do it.

“Obviously the main mission of Jorge’s contract with us is the development of the bike, so we are more likely to select a grand prix where it has a good sense for us to do the wildcard and then do a test [afterwards], rather than just pick a race out of the blue where there’s no logic to do the wildcard.

“It’s a matter that we will discuss together, and I think Jorge needs to feel comfortable, needs to feel he will be up to racing speeds, but why not?”

Lorenzo “grateful” Honda didn’t block Yamaha roll Lorenzo revealed Honda made no attempt to block him from riding a rival manufacturer’s bike in 2020, and admitted he is “very grateful” for this.

“I have to say, as I said in other interviews, Alberto [Puig, Honda team boss] was always very smart and always very loyal and I always got full support in the year I spent in Honda.

“And also for that reason – and I’m also very grateful – that they [Honda] didn’t put any clause to avoid me to ride another bike this year.

“Because they could’ve done and they didn’t. So for that reason I can work in that role.

“So, yeah, I didn’t receive obviously any call from Alberto, but I’ve always been very grateful for his support during the 2019 season and to not apply this clause after breaking my contract with Honda for 2020.”

Lorenzo won all three (2010-11, ’15) of his MotoGP titles with Yamaha. He debuted with the team in 2008 and left to join Ducati for the 2017 season. He spent two seasons with the Italian marque before switching to Honda for 2019.

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