It has been three years in the making. Ducati have been chasing Jorge Lorenzo for a very long time, almost since the moment Gigi Dall'Igna took over as head of Ducati Corse. Dall'Igna came to Ducati with a master plan. "Ducati had a plan when we started with Gigi at the end of 2013, which was to develop a competitive bike and - once the bike was competitive - to attract one of the top riders," Ducati MotoGP boss Paolo Ciabatti told a specially convened press conference on Thursday.
The candidates who qualified as "top riders" (for the linguists, this is the English phrase the Italians use where English speakers would use the term Alien) are few and far between. Ciabatti made it perfectly clear what he meant. "With all due to respect to all the other riders, including the two Andreas, there are a few riders who have been showing their potential. They are able to win championships. Obviously if you look at history in the last six years three times Lorenzo, twice Marquez and once Stoner. So obviously to be sure to be in a position to fight for a world title we needed to aim for one of the two riders which are Lorenzo and Marquez."
Picking an alien
One interesting detail: before talking to Lorenzo, Ducati had first asked Casey Stoner if he would like to make a full-time return to racing. "No," Stoner replied. "I am fine like this." He is happy as a test rider. That opened the door for Lorenzo.
Here’s a special MotoGP request ahead of this weekend’s Jerez GP
I’m often a bit mean about Dorna, because they’re the people in charge of MotoGP, so they’re in the firing line. But they are big enough to take it. I fully realise that much of the time they do great work, but I’m only a journalist, so, as Pavarotti once said, “when a journalist write about the positive he write fives lines; when he write about the negative he become a poet”.
Dorna’s greatest act over the past year or so has been to admit that MotoGP is too expensive to survive entirely on outside sponsorship, so it has wisely and kindly decided to underwrite the poorer end of the grid for the foreseeable future. This is in stark contrast to Formula 1 and top-level football, where those in charge only seem to care about the headline teams.
MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Why did Lorenzo do it?
Why Rossi’s failure on the Ducati could be Lorenzo’s biggest reason for going there
Anyone who tells you they know why Jorge Lorenzo quit the manufacturer that’s won five of the past 10 MotoGP titles for a brand that hasn’t got close to winning the championship for the past eight years, is making it up.
But let’s take a look at the possible reasons behind the defection.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the races at Assen:
WorldSBK Race 2: Roll the Dice
Rea completes the pair as van der Mark gets the crowd back on their feet in a tense game of chess at Assen
KRT rider Jonathan Rea took another incredible win in the Netherlands in Race 2 as a half-wet half-dry race saw tyre decisions play the key role. Joined on the podium by teammate Tom Sykes and local hero Michael van der Mark, Race 2 was characterized by nervous glances at the sky as the riders dealt their cards.
And here is the second part of the Lorenzo announcement. Ducati's terse press release announcing that the Spaniard will be racing for them for the next two seasons:
Jorge Lorenzo teams up with Ducati in MotoGP for 2017 and 2018
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.
As widely predicted, Yamaha have officially announced they are parting ways with Jorge Lorenzo at the end of 2016. Though the press release speaks of "new racing challenges", the press release from Ducati announcing Lorenzo will be racing for them from next year should arrive within the hour.
The Yamaha press release appears below:
YAMAHA AND JORGE LORENZO GO SEPARATE WAYS AT THE END OF 2016
Gerno di Lesmo (Italy), 18th April 2016
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.
World Superbike standings after the second race at Assen
Championship standings after the fourth race of the season