Yamaha hints at Jorge Lorenzo MotoGP wild card return in 2020

Jorge Lorenzo could be back on the 2020 MotoGP World Championship race grid if he wants to explore the possibility of wild-card outings

Jorge Lorenzo - Yamaha

Jorge Lorenzo has expressed his delight at securing a return to the MotoGP paddock just months after retiring from the sport, while Yamaha says it would be ‘open’ to wild card outings for its former champion.

The Spaniard, who clinched his three MotoGP World Championship titles (in 2010, 2012, 2015) with Yamaha, returns to the Iwata marque ahead of the 2020 season having called time on his MotoGP race career in November following a year beset by injury woes.

Describing it as a chance to ‘push the limit’ without the intensity of competing in a full season, Lorenzo is enticed by the prospect of developing a machine that suited his smooth riding style.

“I‘m very happy with the decision to join the Yamaha Factory Test Team. I was always planning on staying involved in MotoGP and returning to the paddock, and I think this is a suitable role for me. I know the team and the M1 well. The Yamaha really suited my riding style, and it will be very interesting to ’meet up with my old bike again‘.

"Returning to Yamaha brings with it some good memories. We secured many podiums and victories, and three titles together, so we know where our strengths lie. I want to thank Yamaha for this opportunity, because this allows me to do what I love – riding motorbikes and pushing the limit – whilst enjoying a slightly calmer lifestyle than I did in previous years.

"I‘m very motivated to get to work and can‘t wait to start riding. I want to do my best for Yamaha‘s future, and I hope my riding experience will be helpful to Yamaha‘s engineers and riders to bring the title back to Yamaha.”

Getting his first outing on thee Yamaha M1 at the IRTA Sepang MotoGP test on February 2-4, it will be his first Yamaha role since he left the team for Ducati at the conclusion of 2016.

Could Jorge Lorenzo return to MotoGP grid as a wild card?

While Yamaha says there are currently no plans for Lorenzo’s role with the European test team to include wild card MotoGP race outings, it says it would be ‘open to the possibility’ should the Spaniard want to.

“So far, no wild card rides are planned for Lorenzo in 2020, but Yamaha is open to the possibility, should he decide to race again,” read the official press release.

Yamaha has often offered up outings for its Japanese based test riders in the past – often at Motegi – but refrained from doing so with its last European appointment Jonas Folger.

However, third rider wild card outings are becoming increasingly common for some teams with Michele Pirro (Ducati), Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki) and Bradley Smith (Aprilia) often appearing on third factory bikes at a handful of events in 2019, especially if there was a post-event test.

It’s worth pointing out Petronas SRT Yamaha was one of Lorenzo’s targets midway through 2019 when he was scouting for potential rides post-Honda.

Whether it creates friction in the factory team between Lorenzo, Maverick Vinales and – especially – Valentino Rossi remains to be seen…