MotoGP

Lorenzo ducks Ducati rumours, insists he had 'doubts about career'

Repsol Honda's Jorge Lorenzo insists he had general doubts about his career as he explains why he approached Ducati about a MotoGP 2020 switch

A rather sheepish Jorge Lorenzo has finally given his first respone to revelations purporting to suggest he was in contact with Ducati over a shock return only six months into his two-year deal with MotoGP title holders Repsol Honda.

The three-time MotoGP World Champion returns to action at the British MotoGP Silverstone round this weekend for what will be his first outing since a crash at Assen in June left him nursing a back injury.

Despite his absence from the paddock, Lorenzo’s influence was nonetheless felt in Austria when it emerged there had been contact with Ducati over a comeback for 2020 at the expense of an unimpressed Jack Miller.

Though the news cycle halted when Miller was belatedly confirmed with Pramac Ducati two days after the event, reporters were keen to quiz Lorenzo about exactly how far the discussions went. 

Lorenzo was evasive in response, framing any potential contact around his general ‘doubts’ about his Repsol Honda future after a lacklustre first half to the season. 

“I started having doubts, doubts about my life, about my career and I think it is human and normal to have these kind of doubts. When I started to feel better in the recovery these doubts started to disappear and the commitment and the challenge that, more or less one year ago, I decided to take I became convinced again about it.”

When pressed again about a timeline of events, Lorenzo remained non-committal but didn’t outright deny it.

“There was a lot of rumours about that even if I wasn’t there. I never told anything because I knew I had two years of contract with Honda. But because the situation became very rare and the rumours were huge I decided to call Alberto to tell him that I wanted to keep my commitment with the factory.”

Lorenzo will race with Repsol Honda in 2020

Indeed, Lorenzo is quick to emphasise he will be riding a Repsol Honda in 2020, insisting he is in fact committed to the ‘challenge’ of turning his fortunes around alongside Marc Marquez.

“The challenge to be competitive with the Honda MotoGP bike, to be able to win with them and to be able to win with three bikes which no rider in MotoGP has done. 

“After recovering and feeling better and knowing that this injury will not create problems in the future for my health I felt commitment to stick with this challenge and I called Alberto and Honda and told them I wanted to be fully committed to the challenge.”

What will Repsol Honda do with Lorenzo?

Whilst it wasn’t quite the infidelity it could have been, Lorenzo’s cheeky cloak and dagger approaches to Ducati (and apparently Petronas SRT Yamaha) were certainly the equivalent of ‘sexting’ behind your partner’s back.

Whether Lorenzo wanted the rumours to come out is unclear – the rider knows well enough this talk spreads quickly, but it is a bold move to try and out-manoeuvre Repsol Honda. After all, it was only two months ago he travelled to Japan to meet Honda’s top brass to discuss ways of making him more comfortable with the bike. This episode is unlikely to have impressed management.

Whilst Repsol Honda will have gone to the effort of reminding him about brand values, one can understand there may be some frostiness in the ranks which could linger for some time.

On the other hand, Lorenzo has become the wild-card of the remaining 2019 MotoGP season. Where s the formbook will remain largely consistent amongst much of the grid, there remains the notion Lorenzo could go from 20th one weekend to pole position the next – and he certainly has the bike capable of doing so.

Expectation has dissipated since his injury, but curiosity certainly remains high

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