MotoGP

Honda slams claims it wanted to ‘make Lorenzo pay’ in wildcard block

Michele Pirro believes Honda was behind the decision to block wildcard MotoGP outings in 2020 because it wanted to 'make Jorge Lorenzo pay'

Repsol Honda team boss Alberto Puig has hit out at a suggestion made by Ducati test rider Michele Pirro that it wanted to ‘make Jorge Lorenzo pay’ by getting behind a ban for wildcard entries during the 2020 MotoGP World Championship.

Recently the Grand Prix Commission confirmed MotoGP teams will only be permitted to enter its two race bikes when the 2020 season does eventually get underway, a move that means no test riders will be able to wildcard in events.

The decision means Jorge Lorenzo’s proposed comeback outing with Yamaha at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will not take place in 2020, though the sweeping block means riders such as Suzuki’s Sylvain Guintoli and Ducati’s Pirro will also not compete.

However, though the move has been justified as a way of helping to keep numbers present on site limited during the rounds, Pirro suggested there was a more underhand motivation spearheaded by Honda to block its former rider from getting a race outing with Yamaha.

Speaking to Motosprint, he said “Honda maybe wants to make Lorenzo pay for going to Yamaha…"

The comments have drawn ire from Honda’s Puig, who says it ‘hurts’ a rider of Pirro’s experience would think the team could act in such a way.

“Pirro’s comments are a shame and quite inappropriate, I do not understand where it comes from," Puig told Crash.net.

"Honda, like all the manufacturers participating in the MotoGP World Championship have been working extremely hard for weeks to understand the feasibility of this season [due to the coronavirus].

"We have held many meetings during this period to find a consensus with all the manufacturers. We, as Honda, have given up many things that we wanted to do in the future in terms of technical evolution and we have done it for the good of this sport, to maintain equality among all the manufacturers.

“It’s not easy, we are all adapting, from the organisation to the teams, the sponsors and of course also the riders – all with the aim of returning to a World Championship as we know it.

"This is why it hurts us that someone who belongs to a factory team makes these type of comments in such a difficult and critical situation for everyone.

"I believe that Pirro should know, at Honda we have respect for Lorenzo. We ended last year with him in a good and respectful way and wish him the best for his future.”

Lorenzo announced his retirement from MotoGP at the conclusion of the 2019 season, despite being part-way through two-year contract with Repsol Honda.

However, just weeks later he was confirmed to be returning to Yamaha as its test rider with plans to make wild-card outings in 2020 as part of the deal. 

Despite this, Honda has publicly dismissed any notion of it being perturbed by Lorenzo’s change of strategy, with Puig saying during February’s MotoGP test: “"Every person is free to do what he wants with his life. And we respect it. If he had this opportunity [with Yamaha] we are happy for him."
 

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