Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Lorenzo and Honda: will they win?

Jorge Lorenzo’s shock move to Repsol Honda caught pretty much everyone by surprise. What are the precedents and how will the deal work out?

In December 1988, a letter from Rothmans Honda chattered through fax machines of editorial offices around the world, announcing that reigning 500cc world champion Eddie Lawson was quitting Marlboro Yamaha Team Agostini to race Rothmans Hondas the following season.

Editors and journalists stared at the letter in disbelief.

A few days later their befuddlement was complete when a fax arrived from Marlboro Yamaha Team Agostini, announcing that Rothmans Honda’s former world champion Freddie Spencer would ride YZR500s in 1989.

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2018 Brno WorldSBK Preview: What To Expect At Brno

Round seven of the 2018 WorldSBK season will see the paddock head for Brno in the Czech Republic. The fast and flowing circuit is a firm favorite with MotoGP riders and fans and is sure to be well received by the Superbike riders when they return to action in the hills and valleys for the first time since 2011. That season saw Marco Melandri do the double for Yamaha but will that past form matter this weekend?

Yamaha seek to maintain momentum

Yamaha will certainly hope that their previous form, three Brno victories, is a good indicator that the Japanese firm can expect a strong showing this weekend. At Donington Park, Michael van der Mark delivered the first victories for Yamaha since their return to WorldSBK, and the Dutchman's confidence will be high this weekend. After claiming the first ever Dutch wins in WorldSBK history his stock is higher than ever, and it couldn't have come at a better time with contracts set to be signed for 2018.

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The Comprehensive Silly Season Update: Mugello Madness Sees Lorenzo Go Repsol, Petrucci To Ducati, And More

Secrets are hard to keep in the MotoGP paddock. When it comes to contracts, usually someone around a rider or team has let something slip to a friendly journalist – more often than not, the manager of another rider who was hoping to get a particular seat, but lost out. It is not often that real bombshells drop in MotoGP.

So the report by Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport that Repsol Honda were in talks to sign Jorge Lorenzo came as a huge shock. The assumptions which almost everyone in the paddock had been making – that Lorenzo would be riding a full factory Yamaha M1 in a Petronas-funded satellite team operated by the Sepang International circuit – turned out to have been nothing more than a useful smokescreen. Instead, Lorenzo has signed a two-year deal with HRC to partner Marc Márquez. The announcement was originally due at Barcelona, but the publication by La Gazzetta forced Honda to make a hasty and brief announcement..

The Petronas rumors had plenty of fire to provide the smoke. In an interview with Crash.net, Sepang International Circuit CEO Dato' Razlan Razali openly discussed the possibility of running Yamahas with Lorenzo and Franco Morbidelli. Everyone I spoke to – including other team managers, rider managers, riders, journalists – believed that Jorge Lorenzo would be riding a Yamaha in 2019.

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Press Release: Marc VDS And Michael Bartholemy Settle Differences

The Marc VDS team issued the following press release today, stating that the dispute between team owner Marc van der Straten and team manager Michael Bartholemy has been settled:


Statement: Marc VDS Racing Team

Mr. Marc van der Straten and Mr. Michael Bartholemy have today reached a mutual agreement to end their association which is solely due to differing strategic approaches.

"The past few weeks have been difficult for everyone in the Marc VDS Racing Team, with the uncertainty surrounding our future distracting from our main aim, that of winning races. With this agreement we can once again focus solely on adding to the successes that we've enjoyed in the past," said Mr. van der Straten.

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Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 74: Talking Mugello, Silly Season, And Being Overtaken By Events

The latest episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast comes to you from the balcony of a Tuscan villa overlooking the city of Florence, and comes complete with an acoustic backdrop of birds, motorcycles, and rather fittingly for Mugello, a chainsaw being fired up. Gathered around the table to discuss the events and fallout of the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello were Neil Morrison, David Emmett, and special guest Adam Wheeler, editor of the excellent On Track Off Road.

We start off with a discussion of Jorge Lorenzo's stunning victory at Mugello, and how it came about. We talk about his new fuel tank, and the tension in the Ducati squad, and how the situation affected Andrea Dovizioso. We then go on to talk about Marc Marquez, and what his crash did to the championship. We have a quick discussion about the booing of Marquez, and its place in MotoGP.

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Danilo Petrucci Joins Andrea Dovizioso At Ducati Factory Team

After Jorge Lorenzo's departure for Repsol Honda was confirmed this morning, the factory Ducati team announced that Danilo Petrucci will be moving up to take his place for the 2019 season.

The move had been widely expected, as the factory had an option on Petrucci's contract which expired at the end of June. After Lorenzo's decision to leave, Petrucci was the obvious choice to replace him.

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Jorge Lorenzo Signs With Repsol Honda For Two Seasons

In a shock move which emerged in the Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday, Jorge Lorenzo is to partner Marc Marquez in the Repsol Honda team for the next two seasons. As he had confirmed after his victory at Mugello on Sunday, Lorenzo is to leave Ducati at the end of this year and join his third manufacturer in four seasons.

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Dani Pedrosa Out At Repsol Honda

Dani Pedrosa is to leave Repsol Honda at the end of this season, HRC have confirmed. After 18 years together in all three Grand Prix classes, including 13 in MotoGP, Honda will not be renewing his contract for 2019 onwards.

The move had been widely expected. Rumors that Pedrosa would be leaving Honda have been circulating since Alberto Puig joined Honda as head of the Repsol Honda team. Puig is believed to have wanted to replace Pedrosa from the moment he joined the team.

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2018 Mugello MotoGP Sunday Round Up: The Prodigal Son Returns And Wins

A circuit as magnificent as Mugello creates a certain level of expectation. The crowds pack the banks and grandstands expecting their favorite riders to triumph. The riders expect to be able to use skill and bravery to make up for some shortcomings of their bike, but they also expect to suffer on top speed if they are down on horsepower. The manufacturers expect to showcase their engineering prowess, at a circuit which demands the utmost of their machine in almost every aspect. The bike has to brake well, turn well, accelerate well, and be so fast it takes your breath away. Something which the front straight at Mugello does quite literally at MotoGP speeds.

Were expectations fulfilled this year at Mugello? Some were, perhaps. The massed sea of yellow spectators who made the pilgrimage to Mugello were not disappointed, though their joy was not unalloyed. They came to see a race which featured Valentino Rossi as a protagonist, one in which he would emerge triumphant and vanquish his rivals (especially those from the Iberian peninsula), and they got some of what they wanted. Rossi was involved in a thrilling battle for the podium for most of the race, there was an Italian victory to celebrate, and the failure of Rossi's arch rival to take pleasure from.

The weight of expectation lay heavily on Rossi's rivals, too. Marc Márquez came to a track where he has struggled in the past, knowing that the tire allocation would mean he would struggle. Andrea Dovizioso came to the place where he won last year, but on the back of crashes in the last two races, risks were even less of an option. Maverick Viñales came to Mugello after a successful test at Barcelona, where he believed the team had solved the problems he had suffered through the first part of the season. And Jorge Lorenzo came to Ducati's home track for his 24th race on the Ducati, one for every million his contract paid him, without having lived up to reasons the Italian factory had signed him: to win races, and contend for the title.

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