Perhaps the longest-running and worst-kept secret contract deal is coming to a head: Spanish sports daily AS.com is reporting that reigning 250 world champion Jorge Lorenzo will officially sign a deal with Yamaha very soon. Lorenzo's manager, Dani Amatriain, confirmed to AS.com that a verbal agreement has already been reached, and the only detail left to discuss is the small matter of which team Lorenzo will run. The one thing which is absolutely non-negotiable for Lorenzo is access to the same machinery as Valentino Rossi, which ultimately means that the only real option for Lorenzo is the Yamaha Factory team, in some guise or other. The Tech 3 Yamaha team, which had earlier been mooted as a possibility, looks like being ruled out due to a lack of competitiveness. Herve Poncharal's team could, however, be the destination of Valentino Rossi's current team mate, Colin Edwards.
The Lorenzo saga has been going on for a very long time, with reports as early as the middle of last year that Lorenzo would move to MotoGP with Yamaha. Yet despite the entire motorcycle-racing-mad world being aware of the Lorenzo-Yamaha tie up, Motorsport 48, Lorenzo's management team, have desperately tried to keep the deal a secret. The reason, Amatriain reveals, is out of respect for Aprilia and the Piaggio group, who helped Lorenzo get where he is in the first place.
However the Lorenzo deal comes about, it should liven up an already interesting MotoGP paddock with a fair few personality clashes. Apart from the question of whether the Yamaha garage (or ANY garage, come to that) is big enough to hold the egos of both Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, there's also the small matter of the intense rivalry and personal animosity between Amatriain and Alberto Puig, Dani Pedrosa's manager. In 2008, we should see plenty of fireworks, and occasionally, the odd nuclear explosion, just to spice things up.