How The Lorenzo - Honda Deal Would Work: Separate Teams Inside Repsol

Over the past few weeks, the motorcycle racing press has been set ablaze by the rumors of Jorge Lorenzo's future. The talented Mallorcan's contract with the Fiat Yamaha team runs out at the end of this year, and although Yamaha have offered Lorenzo a new contract - rumored to be around the 3.5 million euro mark - Lorenzo has been holding out for more. He has some very serious leverage to help his side of the argument: Lorenzo says that all of the current manufacturers have offered him a contract.

The only realistic prospect for Lorenzo is of course Honda - Ducati is too much of a risk, and the chances of Suzuki meeting Lorenzo's rumored 5 million euro salary demand are very slim indeed, given the somewhat parlous state of the factory's MotoGP program. The elephant - nay, the brontosaurus - in the room in any discussion of a Lorenzo move to Honda is of course the fate of Dani Pedrosa. The two Spanish title rivals have been bitter enemies since a series of incidents during the 2005 250cc Championship season, and the prospect of the two men on the same team has usually been seen as almost impossible.

Things were made a little easier between the two after Lorenzo fired his long-time manager Dani Amatriain at the end of last season, as the rivalry between Amatriain and Pedrosa's manager Alberto Puig was even more intense than that between the two riders. But now, according to GPOne.com, a solution has been found by HRC which would help remove any last obstacles to securing the services of both Lorenzo and Pedrosa.

The idea would be for Jorge Lorenzo to join the Repsol Honda team, but to split the team into two separate parts, each with its own manager. Unsurprisingly, Alberto Puig would manage the Pedrosa half of the garage, but the big surprise comes in the name of person selected to manage Lorenzo's half of the team. GPOne is saying that Aprilia boss Giampiero Sacchi, currently manager of the Aprilia World Superbike racing team, is in talks with HRC to run Lorenzo, as part of a wider cooperation between the two factories. Sacchi and Lorenzo already know each other well, as Sacchi managed the Derbi team that Lorenzo made his debut in at the tender age of 15. With a name like Giampiero Sacchi at the helm, Lorenzo would have faith in receiving equitable treatment inside the team.

Speaking after the race at the Sachsenring, Lorenzo refused to be drawn on his future, saying only, "the most important thing is to be in a good team with a good bike." When asked about Yamaha, he told reporters, "I don't know what Yamaha wants. I know what I want." This saga still has some way to run yet.

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Doesn't the Simoncelli-to-Gresini deal make the prospect of Pedrosa, Lorenzo, and Simoncelli, on "the same bike", pretty untenable?

Which one of them would be "the future"?  Would there be some kind of winner-keeps-the-seat battle in 2010 for the 2011 seat with Simoncelli?  Or is Pedrosa automatically out the door?  Or does HRC perhaps find themselves in the same position they were in 2006?

I would think they wouldn't want any part of this.

There are so many things about this that baffle me.

First, what is going on between Honda and Aprilia? Honda doesn't have a history of being pragmatic about, well, anything, typically choosing to spend or engineer apposition into the ground. Have the spotty results of the past few years humbled them in some way? From the other direction: Honda certainly has something to offer Aprilia but the Italians sell based on their independence from the Japanese and the built-for-purpose-but-lacking-passion designs. I guess the real question is what is going on? Are they just talking nice about each other or are they working together. Maybe I am just freaking out over nothing but if there is anything in this, it will make the MSMA a much more (or maybe less) interesting entity.

On to Sacchi: this is a guy who can build something from nothing. Have Honda recognized that they need help? That they need direction? What could they be offering that would make Aprilia give him up?

Honestly, for me, the least weird part of this is the thought of Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Simoncelli on Hondas. Honda has a history of throwing a wide net. Unfortunately for them, it didn't pay off until they stopped doing it and started to focus on a single rider - Pedrosa. Probably confounding for them though is that the payoff came from Hayden.

lorenzo is contesting 1.5 euro? is that really an issue, when it comes to machinery? really, he can pick up 1.5 in sponsorship with a little hobnobbing, or even to get paid on scale as to where he finishes the year. a 1.5 bonus for beating rossi, or whatever. it make no sense to me when you consider the rossi effect: meaning in the first many chapters of his book, he states that the rider is the key developer of any motorcycle, and with honda and ducati both many years later, in a round about way stating this very fact.

I don't think this is about money. This seems more like it is about being recognized for his talent.

And for the fact that he will probably bring home the title at some point for whoever picks him up.

Money is just the way we keep score. Lorenzo doesn't need the extra cash - as others have pointed out, he can raise it easily enough. He wants what that money stands for - recognition that he is equal to Valentino Rossi.

None of them in MotoGP "need" it. Nonetheless, without it, they're gone. So whatever it happens to represent for any given rider, it still boils down money. They play for pay, glory, respect and the rest are second at best. And I don't even mean it to reflect negatively on Lorenzo personally (or anybody else). It's how all business models work, sport or otherwise.

Not to mention, as great as I think Lorenzo could be... if he wants to be recognized by Yamaha as equal to Rossi, beat him for the championship and all due money and respect will follow.

Marco Melandri is basically riding for nothing. Back in 2006, James Ellison was riding for something not a million miles off minimum wage. Once you get into the 250s, 125s and World Superbikes, people are riding for nothing. Barry Veneman, who has podiumed in World Supersport and finished 8th in the championship, was a full-time employee at the time and was riding in his spare time.

As for Lorenzo being recognized as equal to Rossi, the method you prescribe sounds pretty effective. Interestingly enough, in the press conference after the race at the Sachsenring, Lorenzo emphasized that he needs to beat Rossi. He too knows what he needs to do.

If Melandri's personal sponsorship money is "basically nothing," then I'm walking into my boss's office as soon as I can and demanding that my pay be raised to BASICALLY NOTHING! I'll be waaaaay better off... :)

I get you're what saying though, and I think you understand what I'm saying as well.

As for Lorenzo, aside from his riding, it's why I becoming a bigger fan of his all the time. He's hungry to be the best, and hangs it all out there on the track. He's worth every penny he can squeeze out of Yamaha or Honda.

But I hope he stays with Yamaha. Watching him duke it out with Rossi on equal equipment is motorcycling nirvana. It's made Rossi better too, no convenient excuses if he gets beat.

I'm a big fan of both the Fiat Yam riders and you're bang on here with the reasons that Lorenzo should stay with Yamaha. Rossi has always stated that it's the rider, not the machine, that matters so what better way for Lorenzo to prove his worth than by showing that Rossi can be beaten with the same equipment. If he can do that consistently then his demands will be met for sure. I'm sure that Yamaha don't want him to go. Heck, I reckon even Rossi doesn't want him to go as he's put fire back in #46's belly. There's nothing Rossi loves more than someone to race against!
I don't see the rationale of a trip over to HRC other than for the money. We're now well into the 3rd year of the RC212V and it is still languishing behind the M1 and the GP-9 (well, in the hands of a certain Australian). I can't see how Lorenzo arriving there will make any difference to the development of the bike and its competitiveness, thereby making his chances of getting his dues even more difficult.
If Lorenzo wants respect and recognition of his efforts, HRC probably isn't the best place to go - just ask Nicky Hayden