Lorenzo To Ducati: Why It Happened, and What Happens Next

If anyone still doubted that Jorge Lorenzo has signed for Ducati for 2017 and beyond, then the news that Yamaha Motor Racing boss Lin Jarvis will be at Thursday's pre-event press conference at Jerez should finally convince them. It is not so much that team bosses never appear in pre-event press conferences, but rather that such appearances are vanishingly rare, and often momentous. If Jarvis is not there to discuss Lorenzo's move to Ducati, then something has gone very awry indeed.

We have been here before, of course. When Valentino Rossi finally announced he would be moving to Ducati in 2010, a similar procedure was adopted. So taking account of the lessons from that move, and of Rossi's return to Yamaha, let us gaze into our crystal ball and see what we can expect for the upcoming days.

Blast from the past

Before Jerez, Yamaha and Ducati will send out press releases. That will probably happen on Wednesday, while most of the paddock is traveling. If the press releases are not sent out simultaneously, then Yamaha will first send out a press release announcing Lorenzo is leaving, followed an hour or so later by a press release from Ducati announcing they have signed the reigning world champion. Such announcements are always coordinated, as it makes it much easier to handle for both factories.

On Thursday, Jorge Lorenzo and Lin Jarvis will both appear at the press conference. Lorenzo will speak only in the vaguest terms, uttering platitudes along the line of seeking fresh challenges and new chapters in his career. Any difficult questions will be fielded by Lin Jarvis.

This is good for Yamaha, but bad for journalists, as Jarvis is the consummate politician. The Yamaha boss will deflect any harsh questioning, though it will not stop us trying. Jarvis will heap praise on Lorenzo, thank him for all he has done for Yamaha, and avoid questions about whether the way Yamaha management handled the aftermath of Sepang is directly responsible for Lorenzo's departure.

Later that day – or possibly on Friday – Ducati will also hold a press conference, in which Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna, and probably Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali will talk about why they signed Lorenzo. Both Yamaha and Ducati management will carefully avoid questions over who is to take the second seat at both factory teams.

Equal footing?

What does it mean for the remainder of the season? It seems almost certain that Lorenzo will be allowed to test the Ducati at Valencia, after the final race of the 2016 season. Jarvis is unlikely to confirm that Yamaha will allow Lorenzo to test just yet, however, as they need to have something to ensure Lorenzo toes the Yamaha line for the rest of the season.

Will Yamaha withdraw support for Lorenzo during the 2016 season? That seems unlikely, especially as Lorenzo will be in the running for the championship throughout the year. A title for Lorenzo is a title for Yamaha, and an opportunity to rub Lorenzo's nose in it next season, should the Spaniard struggle on the Ducati. Why pass up a chance to point out what Lorenzo could have had, had he stayed?

Lorenzo's decision will have some consequences for this season, however. Though Lorenzo will get the same upgrades as Valentino Rossi for the rest of the season, he will no longer be testing parts for the 2017 bike. That means he will test at Jerez and Barcelona, but probably not at Brno, nor at any private tests Yamaha hold later this year. Rossi will now more emphatically lead the development direction, however, with Lorenzo's input being listened to, but not acted on as much.

The truth is out there

Jorge Lorenzo's real motives for leaving Yamaha will have to wait until 1st January 2017. His Yamaha contract expires on 31st December of this year, and he is not truly free to speak until then. Although "free to speak" is a relative term: Ducati imposes severe penalties on riders who go off message, and criticize the bike or the organization, with fines in the tens of thousands of euros.

On 1st January, an interview will appear somewhere, on media Lorenzo considers favorable to him. The most likely candidate is Spanish TV, though given the sensitivities involved, it may not be with Movistar. Their role as title sponsor of the factory Yamaha team will be a factor there. One of the two big Spanish magazines will vie for Lorenzo's favor at the end of the 2016 season, hoping to be rewarded with what you might call his Yamaha exit interview.

What might his reasons be? Until we hear Lorenzo's own version in January, we can only speculate. But there are several factors which seem obvious, all of them relating to the fallout from the incident at Sepang. Jorge Lorenzo has always regarded himself as an entirely innocent* victim of the bitter feud between Valentino Rossi and Marc Márquez.

November spawned a monster

With some justification: whatever your view of Rossi's claims about Márquez' actions, Lorenzo had no part in them. Yet Lorenzo was implicated, and treated by fans and the Italian media as if he had some part in a wider Spanish plot. The charge was that he and Márquez had conspired to defraud Rossi of the 2015 title. All Lorenzo had done was be the fastest man on the grid, and win the most races. He had no part of the feud between Rossi and Márquez.

Above all, Yamaha conspicuously failed to defend Lorenzo. The Japanese factory tried to treat the affair as a dispute between Rossi and Márquez, ignoring the fact that Lorenzo's honor was being impugned by implication. Yamaha management did not stand up to Valentino Rossi, and try to tell him to leave Lorenzo out of the battle. They canceled events planned to celebrate what was otherwise an incredibly successful season for the factory. The events of October and November spawned a monster, and Yamaha top brass failed to slay it.

Lorenzo must feel that his championship went unmarked. That must feel totally unacceptable to the Spaniard. Understandably so: the achievements of both Yamaha riders in 2015 were incredible. Rossi, for a brilliant season in which he led nearly all the way to the final race of the year, at an age when most racers are washed up and finished. Lorenzo, for putting in some utterly dominant performances to overcome what looked at times like an insurmountable deficit. If they were not teammates, they both would have been feted beyond imagination by their teams.

Yamaha failed to honor Lorenzo's achievements, for fear of offending his teammate. As difficult a situation as they found themselves in, not to celebrate Lorenzo's title was an act of cowardice. If Lorenzo goes on to beat both his replacement and Rossi on the Ducati, it will prove to be a very expensive act of cowardice indeed.

The next step

Can Lorenzo beat the Yamahas on the Ducati, though? Or will his stint at Ducati turn out as badly as Valentino Rossi's? There are many reasons to believe that this time, things are different. Both the Desmosedici GP and its predecessor, the GP15, are competitive bikes, with multiple riders scoring successes on the bike. In 2010, Casey Stoner may have been winning on the Ducati, but that had far more to do with Casey Stoner than with Ducati. Today's Ducati is clearly capable of winning, a task which will be all the easier when it has one of the best four – arguably, one of the best two – riders in the world on board.

Then there's Gigi Dall'Igna. The Ducati Corse boss has cleaned house in the racing department, turning it around completely, removing the silo mentality which pervaded the place, and replacing it with a spirit of cooperation, and a focus on the bigger picture. In previous years, Ducati used to build a number of components which they assembled to become a motorcycle. Since Dall'Igna took over the helm, they have been designing motorcycles, and building the components needed to make that motorcycle.

Alternate history

Of course, the scenario sketched above could all just be speculation, and I could be horribly wrong. However, all the signs are that this deal is done, and history tells us this is how manufacturers handle major rider movements such as this. It could be that Lin Jarvis is in the press conference to announce that Lorenzo is staying, or to discuss the impact of the spec electronics on MotoGP. But if it is, then I have a hat set aside with a large pot of ketchup, to help make it more palatable on the way down.

* It has been pointed out to me since this article was published that Lorenzo is not completely innocent, as he gave a thumbs down sign on the podium at Sepang, and asked to present evidence at the CAS hearing. While his action on the podium at Sepang is hardly commendable, it is not quite at the same level as the accusations of conspiring to cheat Valentino Rossi out of a championship. Lorenzo said at the team launch at the start of the season that the thumbs down on the podium at Sepang is the one thing he regrets doing last season.


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Total votes: 309
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Comments

3 races into 2016 season and already i'm waiting for qatar 2017.

well done sir.

 

unrelated, but i want pedrosa on 2017 m1

Total votes: 224

 

it's costing me some fingernails  chipping ...  

pedrosa on the m1 is also possible but also vinales ? rins ? 

let's bring 2017 already .. 

2016 is just as mindblowing as last year ...  though 
 

Total votes: 189

It's a shame that our sport has become so media driven as to be so predictable as this. I am sure David has hit the nail on the head, both with the forthcoming sequence of events and the reasons for Jorge's departure. 

I'm sure he has been offered a huge pay day to move and the appeal of riding the most powerful of 2016's crop must have its attractions. The Ducati, however is not without issues, like all the other manufacturers. What if the others close that power deficit? This is not impossible to percieve and could put the major advantage which Ducati has to one side. 

Whatever happens, if things didn't change they would remain the same.

Total votes: 185

Well, you said it yourself in the last few lines. Perhaps Lin Jarvis is just there to announce the renewal of Lorenzo's contract.

If not, who will be his teammate for the 2017 season? I could imagine a clause not to have Iannone, so that leaves Dovizioso. Or Stoner!  (Here we go again....)

I see Marquez signing with Honda for another two years, and then coming to Ducati (if Lorenzo succeeds with the GP17), so we'll have a real battle on our hands in 2019!

I can't see Pedrosa on a Yamaha, but if Viñales takes Lorenzos seat it could be possible to see Pedrosa on the Zouk. Those talks have been around before, haven't they?

 

No matter how it ends, I hope we'll know soon, and that the current season will be more interesting than sillyseason for seasons to come!

Total votes: 181

If Mavricks gets a podium, Suzuki have the right to renew his contract for '17. I belive that is correct, David will fact check me I'm sure.

I can see Dani on the M1 but if Mavrick gets the M1 ride and Honda sign Rins, Dani will go to Suzuki or retire. It seems hard to imagine that Suzuki will have the same riders next year. A lot of second seats up for grabs the way I see it.

Ducati-- Well, IMO I'd think they'd be a fool to get rid of Ianonne. He's extreamly fast and willing to win. Something Dovi hasn't shown. Dovi is a great pilot, there's no mistaking that. He just seems to not have that little extra to actually win races in GP. If susuki somehow manage  to retain Mavrick and Honda keep Perdosa(which they should,and Marc will vote for) I can see Iannone on the M1.

 

Stoner - How I'd love to see it happen...but it wont. I'm just happy that I had the pleasure to watch him come through the ranks and become the Legend that he is. Was/Is always fantastic to watch him ride.

 

Total votes: 181

If MV wants to leave Suzuki I don't think theres anything in his contract to stop him, podium, win or loose.

Total votes: 174

I would have thought your time in the Netherlands would have endeared you to the wonders of mayonnaise by now. ;)

Total votes: 179

Mayo would definitely help the hat go down, but as Motomann rightly points out, ketchup would be needed to add a bit of flavor to an otherwise bland dish. Having just come back from Texas, however, I'm thinking a spot of hot sauce might be just the ticket.

Total votes: 198

Ketchup is (usually)less fattening. It matters as you get older. Also, the stronger flavour helps mask things like hats. I don't think this theory will be tested though.

Total votes: 185

Lorenzo innocent??? As well as the thumbs down there was the demand that Rossi should be disqualified at Sepang. He shot his mouth off without really looking at the Marquez / Rossi incident properly. And what about the mysterious way he thanked Marquez for keeping the world championship in Spain? His press conference antics after Sepang were anything but innocent. Lorenzo should have kept out of it, done a "no comment" and let his riding do the talking. As was said at the time, the only one to come out of the Sepang press conference with any dignity was Pedrosa.

Total votes: 271

Lorenzo considered himself innocent, most especially of the conspiracy theories leveled against him. That is what Lorenzo believes, not necessarily what I or anyone else believes.

Total votes: 217

David I must object to part of your article when your depiction of the sad saga inside the Yamaha garage is down to cowardice from the management plus bad behaviour from Rossi and JL just an innocent bystander. OK you added the thumb down incident which I agree is almost irrelevant. But you ignore the bigger picture. The animosity between VR and JL has always been there and it got worse from Assen. That's when JL started giving interviews explaining that VR was lucky and didn't deserve the points he had. Do you think that Yamaha was happy about It? Now the monster born in PI : Yamaha backed VR in his claims against MM because they believed him. Rossi never said that JL colluded with MM but once the accusation against MM was made what were they supposed to do? The cat was out of the bag. I think that Lorenzo statements in the post race press conference in Sepang hit a nerve with Yamaha not the thumb down on the podium. The rage and the righteousness displayed by JL there, were unheard of and unseen. If you add that JL got involved with court of arbitration is quite understandable that Yamaha was very displeased. Remember Jarvis in press conference? How annoyed he was when asked about JL comments? So no JL is no innocent party in this. Worse I would say. No matter the madness between VR and MM he had the choice to call himself out. He did rather the opposite with a vengeance. Now what's interesting is that throughout the winter JL asked to have his contract renewed. Saying he wanted to finish his career in Yamaha. Was he sincere or playing games? I think he was sincere. But he never thought that VR would have renewed his contract so early. I think that's what set him off. He thought that because he won the championship (regardless of the mere 5 points difference and the circumstances that led to that result) he was going to be treated as number one. Instead he was treated as an equal to VR. That was the straw.... don't know if this will pass the moderator and get posted. Still in this whole sad business there is no innocent party.

Total votes: 290

People seem to forget that Lorenzo was penalized with a one race ban for knocking down another rider during a race where he crashed too.  And that was for a pass attempt gone bad, not a deliberate non-race move like Rossi pulled.  Lorenzo was also very vocal against Simoncelli's riding even though he was not often the target of Marco's lunges or in close competition for the title.  Riders keep things like that in memory for a long time so how is he supposed to react when Rossi pulls an even more egragious move then is not even penalized during the race?  He saw it as yet another application of the Rossi-rule: Rossi gets to do what he wants to because he is the big name.  Regardless, it was a harmless gesture.  People act like a thumbs down sign is anywhere near comparabe to trying to run another rider off the track.

Chris

Total votes: 272

Don't forget that Lorenzo also had harsh words regarding Marc's riding in 2013, but at the end of the season Lorenzo rode very agressivley and made plenty of contact with other riders. Riders will do what thay dare to do, and what they feel is necessary. If they need to do it and the dare to do it, they can justify it in their own minds. When another rider does the same thing, it's "too agressive" or "too dangerous".

Total votes: 190

Lorenzo is consistently one of the only riders as a voice of less aggressive racing.  A big point of it was made in the Hitting the Apex.  In the face of that race direction explicitly says that some contact is allowable.  Its a case of you don't race according to the rules you want, you race according to the rules in effect.  In '13 Marc was coming in as a rookie with a history of taking people out in Moto2.  How many times has Lorenzo taken someone out?  He is one of the only ones on the crid with credibility in this area.  He was rough in the 250s, was penalized, and mellowed.  Now he sees RD lightly penalizing behavior that he was heavily penalized for.  No wonder sometimes he acts like his panties are twisted.

 

Chris

Total votes: 218

I agree cosman.  I don't know why I can't help myself from engaging in the debate, but I don't understand how people can compare Lornezo's antics in the last few races (the thumbs down, wanting to have his voice heard at Rossi's arbitration, etc) with Rossi's on track running off of Marquez, or Marquez' holding up Rossi (depending on which side you take on the matter).

As I've said before Lorenzo made a couple of really bad PR moves in the process, but he's been a completely clean racer in recent memory, and has expressed regret for his podium conduct.  I'm willing to forgive and move on, and look forward to see how he gets on with the Ducati in 2017, against the other two best rider in the world.  Should be a great season!

Total votes: 251

was Lorenzo not being booed by the crowd at the time he gave the thumbs down?  Personally, I don't really blame him for that.

I do wish he would have been the bigger man and butted out of things, though.

Total votes: 179

Yamaha is indebted to Rossi for his help turning their mediocre bike into a championship contender. In addition, Lorenzo should also be thankful for Rossi/ Burgess/Tsuji-san for their development direction. I think that's fair. However, JL has had disdain for Rossi since they shared garages (and then erected a wall). 

Japanese business is rooted in loyalty and honor. When JL lashed out at Rossi in Sepang, it was frowned upon. It wasn't his place to interject on Rossi's problem with MM even when he was dragged into it. In fact, JL should have defended his teammate as a sign of unity. 

Jorge is going to find it tough at Ducati as his style doesn't quite suit the high horsepower top speed dragster. JL is more of a precise rider and needs a scalpel rather than a hammer. 

Total votes: 211

Rossi won his first race on the bike; how much development do you think happened between his first test of the bike and the first win?  From what I've read, the bike was already there.  Yamaha brought two engines for testing - hoping he would choose the 'long bang' 4 valve - which he did.

Setup accounts for some, talent accounts for a lot, but I don't think you can say that he 'developed' the M1 into a winning bike when he was winning on it before he'd really been able to have much input.  I think Yamaha's real problem pre-Rossi was the lack of a decent rider to put on the bike.

Total votes: 196

VR46 is many great things but loyalty is lower on the list than his other attributes.  He was so upset about the perceived assistance JLo received from Yamaha thanks to his & JB's development of the M1 that he upped sticks and went to Ducati.  And he'd already followed the cash to leave Honda a few years earlier.  Sure, these were good career moves (and I think he was quite right to be upset with Yamaha back then, just as Lorenzo is now) and I don't blame him for a millisecond but let's not start saying any particular rider is disloyal, per se.  Besides, I don't think Rossi was doing it for Yamaha's benefit when he started throwing mud at the end of last season, just as Lorenzo wasn't when he gatecrashed the proceedings being held by race direction.

Total votes: 174

What do you do, when you will win the chanpionship with either of your riders?

I always believed Yamaha was upset at Lorenzo for not staying neutral in the feud between Rossi and Marquez. After all, they work for the same team; his displeasure at Rossi's actions should have been dealt with behind close doors, a very basic concept for a professional. Rossi should have done the same BTW. As the French say it: "Les linges sales se lavent en famille." I suspect key members of Yamaha had mentionned it to both Rossi and Lorenzo, and the latter didn't take it well. I've heard Champions develop a massive ego that makes them feel disrecpected by the most insignifant slights. The differnce is Rossi has no where to go while Lorenzo is very much in demand

Total votes: 206

I was one of the doubters but you got this one spot on this time. Well done.

I'm glad it happened so early, now we can actually focus on the racing again. And the incredibly tight championship battle that is developing.

Total votes: 176

The press releases landed on Monday. That is much earlier than I had thought. Yamaha one here, and the Ducati one here.

Total votes: 168

David, will you do a speculative article predicting Jorge's replacement?

It's always good fun to be hostage to fortune!

Total votes: 162

Solid reporting and commentary, as usual.  I believe that Lorenzo seems to feel that his is the innocent aggrieved party, and I also believe it.  Either way, we should have a great year of racing this year, and I'm looking forward to more good racing in the coming years as well.

Congrats to Jorge and Ducati!

Total votes: 193

Now what will be interesting is who's gonna be Lorenzo's teammate. ever since Argentina I've had a feeling it was going to be Dovi because it was obvious. but I've been paying attention to the Ducati Garage during race weekends, and I always see Gigi listening to Joe's debriefs something I rarely seem him doing for Dovi.

maybe Lorenzo will have a teammate clause in his contract, we won't know ever. but the maniac is a Ducati man and he may surprise everybody and stay at Ducati whil Dovi goes somewhere else.

if we go by riding styles Dovi is a late breaker while Joe rides the corner speed style Lorenzo seems to favor. so it seems the maniac could certainly be on the other Ducati seat.

Total votes: 178

Might be Scott Reading - if MV moves either Dovi or IA could end up at Suzuki.......

Total votes: 176

Fact is, Ducati / WAG / Malboro have signe up what is (probaly) the most expensive contract in MotoGP history.

This will limit rider budget for the 2nd bike, that bike will probaly go to one of the Andrea's, Scott Redding or Petrucci.   

If theres 5 points difference at the end of the season between a GP15 Pramac and a Factory GP16 but a 2 Million Euro difference in rider contract value what do you think Ducati will do to balance the books?

Total votes: 183

Congrats to my man Lorenzo for taking a leap of faith and join what is unanimously a better Ducati than one produced under Preziosi era. I think, more than anything, he can finally have some peace after feeling like a stranger in that Yam garage.

I do agree with David's sentiments, Yamaha didn't handle the trouble within when Rossi, Marquez and everybody else were tripping over each other. Yamaha will gain more in the commercial side  in terms of their deeper ties with Rossi but future sucess is still up in the air. Same goes for Lorenzo. I have no doubt he will win some races next season but will it be enough to clinch a title? only time knows that answer. 

The easy part has been solved, the harder part now begins. Who will move over with Lorenzo, who will stay (Lorenzo probably already knows), who will be replaced at Ducati, who will join Yamaha. so many questions. Whatever this season will lack in racing, the excitement and intrigues of the behind the scene dealings will surely make up for it. I can't wait for the deep insights from David and the crew. 

 

Total votes: 204

"The charge was that he and Márquez had conspired to defraud Rossi of the 2015 title. "

As far as I can recall, Rossi never said that JL and MM was conspiring. He said that MM was doing everything he could to make HIM not win the championship, which then of course, would make JL the benifactor.

Total votes: 191

"As difficult a situation as they found themselves in, not to celebrate Lorenzo's title was an act of cowardice. "

You're f*ing right...but cowards with a clear vision and objective:

$$$€€€£££¥¥¥ (and lots of it).

We must remember that Yamaha is, at the end of the day, a corporation - and is driven by the exact same thing all corporations are driven by: the bottom line. They made an absolutely huge investment to put on their 60th year anniversary demonstration of power, excellence and domination in 2015, and now they simply need to recover that investment - with interest.

This recovery of investment with added interest was always going to be on the back of the massive popularity and appeal of one Mr. Valentino Rossi - always - so what they have done with their public handling and positioning on the matter (and how they handled Jorge Lorenzo's role in the whole thing) is right in line with what could and even should be expected of them (from a dispassionate corporate perspective, at least).

What I think is commendable is that they allowed and supported Lorenzo to push Rassi as much as they did - but I do believe they understand human nature and especially mob mentality quite well.

Looked at dispassionately, the controversy of last year only served to put their name on many more lips than they could ever have hoped for. It was in reality a massive coup for them - for the company that is Yamaha.

And in the end, Yamaha execs and shareholders will be laughing all the way to the bank - just like corporations, their executives and their shareholders love to do.

Total votes: 180

S'funny but as a marketing man, I've been thinking about this.  Yamaha have bungled matters to such an extent that they forced themselves to have to choose between the world champion and the guy who is the most famous rider by far, though not so succesful these days.  What to do?  No brainer, right?  The latter obviously, as VR is going to be PR worthy for many years & well after he retires so never mind that he may never even lead the championship ever again. The masses don't follow race results like us nutters.  And yet, here's 'the but': Yamaha's biggest market is Asia and whose beaming visage is on the factory race replica advertising across the region - world champion Jorge Lorenzo.  'What wins on Sunday, sells on Monday' remember?  That obviously isn't true in Europe or the US any more but what about in Asia and South America? So I'm not so sure about Rossi's bankability in gross terms for the Yamaha coffers.  Perhaps some Moto Matters readers from Indonesia, India or Malaysia could enlighten us?  The GOAT or the world champion (whoever he may be)?

Total votes: 160

You do have a point, however, the entire motorcycle industry finds its most lucrative markets in Asia, not just Yamaha. The difference is that they sell mostly mopeds, scooters and 125cc commuters and runabouts there - much, much more than they sell anything else. Bikes are the primary mode of transportation over in Asia and the ratio of the number of bikes to households is very, very high compared to cars - much, much higher than it is anywhere else in the world. In Vietnam alone for example over 85 percent of households own a bike versus less than 10 for cars. But none of these bikes are very sexy. Just reliable commuters and work horses (usually with seats big enough for four!). The manufacturers will make more money selling parts over a 10 to 20 year lifecycle period in Asia than they will from the actual unit sales by quite a wide margin.

All the manufacturers make a lot more money from their sport bikes and dual-purpose machines, not to mention cruisers and touring bikes (and generators and water pumps and outboards and weed trimmers, etc, etc) - and none of those styles of bikes are sold in any significant numbers anywhere in Asia.

Every one of the manufacturers covet market share in the mature developed economies of the world, where buying decisions are still much more influenced by racing results and participation than just billboards and advertisements.

And they really love winners in Asia with their much younger demographics. The plain truth of the matter is that Jorge (besides being younger) has won a lot more than Rossi has in the last several years, when the Asian markets have become much more important and indeed the focal point of their marketing and sales worldwide.

I also believe Yamaha puts Jorge's face everywhere because of a sponsorship agreement that sees him pay far more personal visits to promotional events and the like out there than they could ever get Rossi to agree to. Jorge loves the adulation and support he gets in this part of the world (and this is not a slight directed at him in any way) so it works quite well for all parties. Bali is one of his favourite places anywhere - as is the rest of Indonesia for all the factories, their execs and their shareholders too.

Total votes: 180

Don´t elevate Gigi yet to a place in the Ducati hall of fame. Last year, running a bike with 7 more engines that factory rivals and with the ENORMOUS advantage of two more liters of fuel, Ducati basically faded after coming out of the box with 100 points in the first three races, a total they never approached again. 

If you look at Ducati accomplishments from an historic perspective, Preziosi´s era produced 24 wins with the 800, 23 by Stoner and one by Capirossi. In 2011 Ross had to try and adapt to an 800 built to Casey´s preferences, a bike that, though fading, had been ridden to 3 wins by #27 the year before. 

It was an impossible scenario for Ducati AND for Rossi, and then, yes, it seems Ducati, without Stoner and with the factory probably following a Yamaha rider´s lead over Hayden´s input, lost the plot. But the year before, 2010, Stoner had won three of the last six races after all sorts of problems early in the year. 

There was a lot going on in Ducati at that time and I reject the idea that Ducati had forgotten how to build a bike. Remember, everone was saying Ducati should junk the desmodromics and also scrap the L90 and build a tighter V. Lots of folks thought Gigi would do that. But he is too smart to throw away what works. 

I was lucky as a young man to spend time, actually whole days, in the Ducati competition dept with Dr. Fabio Taglioni and his great right-hand man, Franco Farné. They could have told me to f_ck off back to Spain and stop bothering them, but they helped me with my racing in Spain, let me test the prototype Pantah on that crazy Ducati test track inside the walls, and Dr. Taglioni once told me, "If we ever build a four cylinder race bike, it will really be a twin with four cylinders...it will feel like that."

That is what Filippo Preziosi did...after building the wonderful Superbikes. 

When Gigi has won a title, and he has to win a race first, it will be correct to say that he has equalled Preziosi´s accomplishment, but I urge everyone to think back on the chaos that was Ducati back in 2009 and onward. Germans running around trying to look like they had the faintest clue as to what a Ducati was supposed to be. Rossi discovering just how brilliant a rider Casey Stoner was...just as, I think, Casey would have made the same discovery if he had tried to ride the anti-Ducati Yamaha instead of the wild little Honda...it was grande casino in Borgo Panigale.

The first day at Valencia when Vale rode the Ducati for the first time, shortly after Preziosi had begun to talk about the future, a great wind came from nowhere, rattling the hospitality and nearly lifting off the roof. We all ran out thinking the tent was coming down. I remember the late Henny Ray Abram, tallest of the press corps, hanging on the horizontal bar trying to hold the roof on. "Not auspicious," said the New Yorker. 

Will Ducati win a race this year?  I hope so, but now that the championship is about to start the long European run, I don´t know what race that would be---maybe Mugello. 

Anyway...Honda, old Honda, pure Honda, has such respect for Ducati that Yoichi Oguma, on a rare, rare vistit to the paddock, told me at Misano during the Rossi years, "We must help Ducati to believe in themselves, not to doubt. They see the way.¨

It was shorty after that, I believe, that Honda "forgot" to hide one of their exposed engines so that Neil Spalding (the pit lane Sputnik who knows that to photogragh) would photograph it and Ducati would see that, in spite of all the rubbish advice they were getting about needing to scrap the 90 and build a tight V, that Honda was running a V90."

I love Ducati. 

 

 

 

 

 

Total votes: 235

You have to remember too that ducati had a tyre advantage that year (by having a seemingly perfect twinning of bike and tyre) and weren't able to replicate their success once this was neutralised. Why? Because Yamaha and Honda have a habit of doing whatever is necessary to bridge the gap.

Since then they've again and again looked like they were on the cusp of being title contenders without being able to make that a reality,and they've had some damn good riders over the years.

So while it would be nice to see Ducati as a serious contender next year, I wouldn't stake much on this being the case.

Total votes: 174

>>In 2011 Ross(i) had to try and adapt to an 800 built to Casey´s preferences

By all accounts Ducati built what Ducati wanted to build and their riders either adapted or not.

 

Chris

Total votes: 189

<i>"'Yamaha' canceled events planned to celebrate what was otherwise an incredibly successful season for the factory"</i>

Huh? Really? Didn't know that. And that's pretty telling/harsh.

What sort of thing(s) were planned exactly? Private celebratory party? Grandiose Event at Yamaha Racing HQ in Italy? Cake & Ice-cream in the pits immediately after the race in Valencia?

Thanks for the insight as always David!

Total votes: 163

Two of the three people Rossi hates most in the world, teaming up to make the Ducati a potential winner...  and Stoner knows how Lorenzo rides...

IF Lorenzo starts out winning early on the Ducati in 2017,  there's going to be a lot of talk about 'the bike Stoner developed' being a big part of that.  It is very likely to be taken as a major slight to Rossi's skills in that area during his time at Ducati...

And -  if it should happen that Marquez and Lorenzo start to share the top two steps on the podium very regularly, it'll be the trifecta for a dung sandwich for Rossi;  we may well see molten patches of tarmac in parc ferme, and not from burnouts....

Total votes: 188

"And -  if it should happen that Marquez and Lorenzo start to share the top two steps on the podium very regularly,"

- So, just like in the last three seasons? ;)

Total votes: 165

If you had told me last year after Stoner offered to replace Pedro & got knocked back by HRC, he would then be back at Ducati with more resposibility i would have had trouble seeing it. But its happened and now rolling along.

If you had told me after Valencia 2015 Jorge was going to Ducati i would of fallen over in hysterics.

I've been following the World Championship for 40yrs i think, maybe 45 so you would think nothing would surprise, but i am.

Congrats to Lorenzo & well done to Ducati for getting him to sign.

Total votes: 190

I once asked Troy Bayliss what rules he would make if he had the power to make rules and he looked puzzled and then said, "I'm just a rider. I´m one of the monkeys that hangs from the throttle."

I remember being in earshot of some Ducati debriefs.

How did this feel?  

Felt better.

Well, it wasn´t, you went slower. 

If Casey ever sits down to write or dictate his book we will learn how all that worked.

I do remember Ruben Xaus complaining during the first part, almost half of the 2002 SBK season that he couldn´t feel the front. But Hodgeson was winning on that front. Finally, after the race in Oscherslaben or whoever that gets spelled, they finally had a test day and Michelin had some fronts and Ducati had some time and Ruben was on fire for the rest of the season. 

With Neil winning races, and eventually the title, it was hard to take Ruben´s problem seriously. 

In fact Ruben, with his new feelie front end, was winning by so much at Laguna Seca in race one that he decided to back it off a bit...the tire cooled and he lost it at turn 11. Tardozzi was waiting in the garage. "Rubén," he said, "when you go slow you are dangerous." 

Ruben ran off and hid in the second heat. He said he was scared to slow down on the victory lap. 

So, the Ducati way is to build the bike that makes the best lap times. If one rider leaves and a new one comes he is expected to do the times the other guy did...then we´ll talk. And if he is falling off a lot, it´s probably because he´s going too slow. 
 

In 2001 I quit all my jobs in MotoGP, took about a 70% cut in salary, and covered a season of World Superbike, basically working for food. It was the best year I ever had as a journalist. I wasn´t even doing TV. Met the best journalists I have ever worked with and enjoyed a season that looked uninteresting from the outside. I even got a TV job in Spanish after that and a new career, all because I went to SBK and started having fun again. MotoGP work is a lot of things but, for me anyway, it quit being fun when it got so political and so electronic. 

Once when the Ducati SBK riders were complaining about rigidity, Tardozzi loosened the removable frame section bolts that you take out to remove the engines. 

"That feels better," said the rider.

"It´s not. You went slower." And tightened them up again. But on some occasons, loosening them made the lap times better. 

I think Jorge will like working that way. I think it is the way he works now. I don´t know if Ramon Forcada will want to leave Yamaha. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total votes: 188

Wonderful insight as always Dennis, thank you.  I remember the 2000-2002 WSBK seasons vividly.  Same for GP.  I miss the days of tires sliding, tires smoking, riders crossed up on the exit, wheelies, burn outs, and the lunacy.  It's all too controlled, too precise, and too damn many electronic nannies these days.  It's even infected WSBK.  :(

Total votes: 188

I suppose you haven't watched a race then this season. I advise you to do so, all the things you mentioned happen! Right before your very eyes!

Total votes: 175

Much as you may think what you see "right before your eyes" in 2016 is the pinnacle of TV viewing the slot-bikes of today are a pale imitation of the way bikes used to behave. 

Not the best race ever but it's a reasonable example of the era (if David allows the link):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5J8Iilsj6ms 

Electronics are like electroshock therapy: the result may be desireable in some ways but the essence, the attitude, has been removed. 

The unified-electronics/software may be a small step backwards but it's still NASA-spec stabilisation which kinda defeats the purpose for what is supposed to be a visual spectacle...unless you find zooming in on the stopwatch rivetting viewing.

 

Total votes: 182

Disgraceful comment really. Calling the MotoGP bikes 'slot-bikes' does a tremendous disservice to the riders. You should feel some shame for that.

And you evidently have not been watching either. WSBK race 1 at Assen this year was a lot better than the video you provided.

Total votes: 184

Jorge will again have his nemesis to thank for directing the development of Ducati's GP program. After many years running a carbon fiber chassis, Valentino's constant complaining during his first year on the Duc. Even you, David, did an extensive analysis on Ducati's woes and Rossi/Burgess pleading for an aluminum twin spar frame. 

There have been a host of clues recently that Ducati are already working on an aluminium twin spar chassis for the GP11 - or possibly the GP11.1 - after a lot of pressure from Rossi and his crew chief Jeremy Burgess. A twin spar chassis could make its debut as early as Brno (though it is more probable to make its first public appearance at Valencia) with signs coming from several sources that big things are afoot at Ducati.

In fact, I'd say Vale's failure at Ducati forced Corse to redefine its corporate culture. Gigi took the ball and ran with it. He noticed how deaf the engineering dept was and tossed whoever didn't toe Gigi's line. 

Rossi lead Ducati in the right direction just like he did with the M1. And for that, Jorge should be grateful. 

Total votes: 194

Why this comment has such low votes... I think the time Rossi was at Ducati will have had a resounding influence on how things have shaped up since.

They had in their hands a rider who had won on a 125cc Aprillia, a 250cc Aprillia, a 500cc Honda, a 990cc Honda, a 990cc Yamaha and 800cc Yamaha... People can scoff all they want about him not riding a Ducati like Casey, the fact is, he has adapted over and over, he's adapted since returning to Yamaha and winning on the 1000cc M1.

The bike was not good, end of story... Ducati had one of if not THE most famous rider in the history of the sport unable to even come close to competing on their bike. Something had to change, it was not Stoner's ability declining since 2007, Rossi didn't suddenly become an 8th placed rider, Hayden was a world champion... Rossi was the biggest confirmation they could have had that the bike was rubbish.

Since Rossi was there, their whole ethos changed on building the bike, the twin-spar, the whole structure changed... this is what we see today and this I believe is what the poster above is referring to. No, Rossi did not develop the 2016 Ducati, but his failure (on behalf of Ducati) opened the door for the revolution which has seen Ducati on the up once again.

I for one am very glad to see it happening, but lets just wait and see if the wins and championship challenge actually materialises.

 

Total votes: 187

If it was not for someone anticipating Valentino Rossi's dominant MotoGP run in the distant future and thought to put an engine in a bicycle we'd still all be pedalling.  Thank God for Valentino Rossi.

Chris

Total votes: 182

Exactly. Rossi's struggle on the GP 11 enlightened Ducati/Audi on the failures of the bike. It was only competitive for 1 rider and 1 only. Ducati's GP bikes have chewed up plenty of high-caliber riders and spit them out. Once Ducati made significant (an understatement) in the direction of the development of the bike and internal structure of the team was the boat righted. 

Total votes: 187

I will keep this short. If Jorge Lorenzo got ignored by the Yamaha factory for his substantial achievement, I guess there is a good reason for that. You and I will never by privy to that, but your portrayel of Lorenzo as a complete victim of some kind of ill treatment by Yamaha is very much in the realm of pure speculation with no basis in other than what we have seen in public. What transpired when, where and how are things which will remain complete unknowns to us, so I would say Yamaha may have had their reasons for how they behaved. These are matters whose truth will never ever come out. One thing I knew for sure was that making Valentino Rossi sign before the Qatar race was Yamaha's intent clearly to show the exit to Lorenzo. Who is right and who is wrong are questions best left unanswered. 

Total votes: 194

But it may have been Yamaha's intent that Rossi would sign first. They must have known that Lorenzo was talking to Ducati (or at least strongly suspected) and they also knew that Rossi wanted to stay, so it was pretty obvious that Rossi would sign first. Was it a push because they knew Lorenzo was thinking of jumping? Maybe........Jarvis knows.

Total votes: 175

Intent?
They intended to re-sign both, at least that is what was stated clearly by Jarvis in the linked press conference...
Jorge publicly stated he wanted to have a contract before the season (which was the initiator of Yamaha preparing contracts), Vale stated he wanted to wait 5~6 races.

So I find it a bit of a stretch stating Yamaha intended Vale to sign first, and/or stating anyone 'made' Vale sign first.

Yamaha made Jorge his best offer, so if treating both riders equally is seen as Yam trying to push either of them to sign or decline... well then it's a concealed message they could've done differently.

Total votes: 191

At the start of the season, I would never have thought that Lorenzo would leave Yamaha. He said after his championship that he wanted to stay at Yamaha for good, presumably to continue to work for them after he retired from racing. I think that at the start of the season a number of factors convinced him that this was unlikely to happen and so he decided to move on, both for the money and the challenge of becoming a two manufacturer champion.

Firstly, I believe that Lorenzo hoped that Rossi would retire from racing at the end of 2016 and that he would be rid of him; so the moment that Rossi signed a two year extension, he realised that he would not be rid of the man that he so clearly detests (and who feels the same about him) for another 3 years, something that would be demoralizing to the most stoic of people. Their relationship has been poor previously; however it is at (and likely to stay at) an all time low for the foreseeable future.

Secondly, Yamaha will look to use Rossi as a brand ambassador for as long as he still draws breath (and probably after that too). They are providing bikes for his ranch and his team and any talent that he nurtures will almost certainly end up at Yamaha. Lorenzo knows that he will never been in the same universe in popularity as Rossi and so any role he held at Yamaha after retiring from racing was likely to see him playing a distant second fiddle to Rossi; something which I can't believe he'd want. From Yamaha's perspective (and as has been mentioned about), Rossi will sell many times the units that Lorenzo will, so financially, there is no choice who to favour.

Whether Yamaha thought Rossi was right and Lorenzo was wrong, vice versa or that they were both wrong; there was no way they were going to risk the financial implications of parting company with the most popular (and therefore most lucrative) bike racer of all time.

Total votes: 183

That is one silly season move anticipated and forecast, out of the way.

I reckon Lorenzo's got enough money, albeit not Rossi money and is desperately unhappy with his unwritten 2nd tier status at Yamaha and decided to jump before he was pushed irrespective of the fact that he garnered 3 world titles for the marque.

I said it some seasons back and reiterate it. Lorenzo should have blocked the Rossi return to Yamaha as an option. That is all done and dusted. Rossi is where he wants to be and Lorenzo will be treading unknown waters for the rest of the season and into 2017. I hope his Shark helmet does not get displaced nor his shoulder dislocated during the rest of the season. I think of Ben Spies with his farewell season at Yamaha. The kicker now is clearly his future team mate. I would err on the side of Dovi without apology.

As Dennis pointed out, there are many factors to consider re-Ducati GP and I hugely enjoyed his comments. Namely Preziosi's role. I believe Gigi inherited a platform and did a superb job of organising it with the financial and logistical clout of VW/Audi behind it. Preziosi had none of this, yet old Capirex came damn close to taking 2006 with Prezzios's L4 990 with a shoestring budget. Therein lies another wormgear. Ducati should never have farmed Capirex out for Melandri for 2008. Dovi, right now sits much in the same league as Capirex did back then. Ducati were mesmerised by Stoner's performance in Sepang testing 2007 and later that season gave Capirex 'vamos', which in my opinion was a huge mistake on their part. Stoner and Lorenzo have over the years been as easy with one another as one could expect GP champions to be. Dovi gave a big leg shout out to Stoner's efforts after he bust his ankle at Indy in 2012 and passed him during the race.

How Lorenzo will go on the red bike is a moot point, but they do have stalwarts like Tardozzi, Stoner and Dovi in that camp. I guess they just need to get Suppo and Gabarini back for 2017.

Will Forcada switch? Will Iannone stay or go? Vinales to VR46 camp? Time will tell but if he does and starts ruffling yellow feathers in that camp, a brick wall will come down sooner rather than later.

I will guarantee this : Alex Marquez will not get a factory MGP offer anytime soon.

Marc Marquez on the other hand would have been my pick for a Ducati 2017 title ten years after.

I'm pleased Lorenzo has made the move. He has the grit, tallent and determination to take it to another level with the red bike. All the best to him and his crew for the title defense and the teams endeavour's next year.

 

Total votes: 176

Here are mine predictions for winners the next few years. It's rather un-inventive, but here goes:

2016: Lorenzo or Marquez  (Hoping for Rossi)

2017: Marquez on a Honda 

2018: Lorenzo on the Ducati

2019: Marquez to join Lorenzo at Ducati, or vice versa!  Could you image the "lips sealed" if Jorge also wins the title on a Honda! :-o

 

Somewhere in between it could be realy great to see Pedrosa and/or a Suzuki on the top step at the end of a season! :-D

Total votes: 171

Maybe Rossi?? his penultimate season in WC racing, i would not put it past the old dog.

Total votes: 151

Let me preface this by saying 3 things: I've only been following MOTOGP for 2 years, I'm a researcher by nature, but I don't have a clue about bike details and what bike did what for whom in what year (etc. etc.) Here's what I DO know. This girl knows people. I can tell you why Lorenzo's leaving.  David nailed it and so did a few others. In a nutshell, he MUST. Period. None of his needs are being met by staying at Yamaha, and 2 lions at Yamaha is one too many! 

Jorge needs security - doesn't have it...yet. Rossi has it, and Jorge can't compete.  Rossi casts a long shadow and Jorge will never see the light of day behind him. And he will always be "considered" behind him, regardless of how many races he wins. Rossi's personal and professional accomplishments didn't happen over night. He has an established career at SUCCESS: he owns SKY VR 46 Racing Team, VR46 Rider's Academy; Motor Ranch, he helped develop cycles - Ducati and Yamaha, he is respected, he admits his own short comings, he still has FUN, people like him. Yamaha LIKES him. Jorge has to grow on you. Rossi just smiles, shrugs, and wins you. Even when he's an A$$ we forgive him. People find fault with Jorge (deserved or undeserved) and they keep it. He doesn't give much room to forgive. He never does anything wrong: it was the other driver, the tire, the weather... Never heard him say "Guess it just wasn't my turn." He's missing a lot of that human element - that same growing element that Yamaha found in Rossi, intertwined into the franchise and climbed it to great financial heights. And as long as Yamaha is making money, so will Rossi. Jorge's not in that picture. He needs to feel his position is secure, that he's the top dog in SOME manner, king of SOMETHING... and with Rossi around, he can't be. 

Jorge needs appreciation and recognition - doesn't feel it. Rossi gets it without asking. Poor Jorge - to get jeered on both the grid and podium, OUCH!  Jorge felt, in many ways, that his championship win was underscored, and it was. Had Rossi won, the bells in Tavullia would STILL be ringing. The final events of the 2015 season left much to speculation, as many of you have indicated in previous posts. But at the end of the day, despite his rants, we didn't just hear Rossi, we "listened". We thought about it...about his viewpoint. Jorge's words came across as vindictive, juvenile in nature. "I was the fastest." Don't know your ages, but I'm telling mine when I say he very much reminds me of that little boy in Gena Rowlands' version of the movie "Gloria", when he's standing in the street disobeying her and yelling out "I am da man!  I am da man!".  Jorge didn't get the recognition the title "CHAMPION" provides or deserves, nor did he get any show of appreciation by Yamaha offering them BOTH 2 year contracts, knowing the ever growing animosity between them. And I MUST reiterate on his lack of professional understanding concerning outward defamatory remarks against your team mate. When Rossi was down, Jorge offered to go and speak AGAINST him. Asian no-no my young padwan. I chalk that up to inexperience. The sad thing is, were he not so competitive in his nature (not just in racing), the things he could learn from Rossi are of much greater value than trying to sully Rossi's name and career. This is what the people at Yamaha saw. This is what he showed them ... what he showed us. On the bike, he's a beast. He's beautiful to watch - it's as if man and machine were one. Off the bike, he is 28 going on 18, and needs to get out Dad's house. On his behalf, he needs the room to grow. ... and Ducati is gonna give him a SH*T load of money to do it... that helps! 

Finally, he needs safety. Laugh if you must, but threat is imminent: Rossi didn't go away and ISN'T going away, and 2015 showed close affiliation with Marquez to be more of a liability than an asset to Jorge's career standing - Marquez gave him unpredictable competition, the "tiff" with Rossi, death threats, etc. Add to that Vinales possibly joining Yamaha (and Rossi, his long-time idol) and being a protege of the GOAT. Something Jorge could not do. Would not do. He needs to go somewhere and start over - build new alliances, new allegiances, and a two year contract with Ducati is just long enough to make notable change. He could become the "Rossi" of Ducati ... along with Stoner, who I understand is developing the bike. Yeah, Stoner & JLo.  Right. Hmmm.

Can you say DRAMA? Jorge Lorenzo needs a do-over, and as a World Champion that's a pretty pathetic thing to have to say, but courageous of him to do so. I'm not a fan, but I do wish him the best. He's leaving to find himself, and make his mark because being the fastest just didn't do it. 

Total votes: 152