The Silly Season log jam is getting close to being breached. Reports from two of the most respected sources in the MotoGP paddock - MCN's Matthew Birt and GPWeek's Michael Scott - are suggesting that Jorge Lorenzo has decided to bite the bullet and accepted Yamaha's offer. Lorenzo had been openly flirting with a switch to the Honda team - a move which would have seen Dani Pedrosa instantly departing from the Repsol squad - and had insinuated that Yamaha were not offering what he felt he was worth.
However, Lorenzo's results at the Sachsenring and Donington undermined the Spaniard's bargaining position sufficiently that he is believed to have caved in and signed back on with Yamaha again. After the race in Germany, where Rossi beat Lorenzo by just 0.099 seconds, Lorenzo was brutally frank about his prospects: "I have to beat him [Rossi]" Lorenzo replied in a tangential answer to a question about his contract negotiations. Lorenzo was in position to do just that at Donington, but his eagerness to win saw him brake on the white line and lose the front, crashing out of the race, hurting his negotiating position even further.
Just how serious Lorenzo's approaches to Honda were are open to question. There is no doubt that the Yamaha is the best bike on the grid at the moment - the Fiat Yamaha duo lead the riders championship, the team leads the team championship, Yamaha lead the constructors championship and the Tech 3 Yamaha team is the first satellite team and ahead of the factory Suzuki team in the team standings - and Honda has struggled to produce a truly competitive bike since the switch to the 800cc formula. The RC212V has clearly improved recently, but it is still lacking in both corner entry and engine response in comparison to the Yamaha M1. Lorenzo will have been all too aware of these facts, and if his ambition is to beat Valentino Rossi and become world champion - which it surely is, despite his denials earlier this year - then having the best machinery at his disposal is his best chance of success.
However, as reliable as the sources are suggesting that the deal has been done, it is neither official nor certain. So far, no word has been forthcoming in the Spanish press, which is unusual to say the least. Speculation in Spain had passed well beyond fevered and was verging on the delusional, and at Donington, members of the Spanish press spent much of their time either rushing from the Repsol Honda garage to the Fiat Yamaha hospitality, or else huddled in corners discussing the latest developments in conspiratorial tones. On at least one occasion, as I stood chatting to Dennis Noyes, a respected journalist in both the US and Spain, he was dragged off for hushed exchanges by other Spanish journalists, prefaced by the words "we don't want anyone listening in ..."
So for there to be no word at all in the Spanish media is strange to say the very least. Even the normally garrulous Italian press has had little to say on the matter, other than the usual "will he or won't he" stories. The only concrete reporting on the matter is on the Spanish Motoworld.es site, which is quoting Marcos Hirsch, Jorge Lorenzo's personal trainer and manager, as saying that Yamaha remains Lorenzo's priority.
Despite the radio silence from Spain, the chances of Birt and Scott being correct are very strong indeed. But until there is an official announcement - most likely at the Brno Grand Prix in two weeks' time - Jorge Lorenzo will continue to hold up the riders market, and keep MotoGP reporters everywhere on the edge of their seats.