MADRID: Three-time MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo will join Ducati from Yamaha on a two-year contract at the end of the current campaign, the two teams confirmed on Monday (Tuesday in Manila)
The move is something of a coup for the freshly-returned team given that Lorenzo is the reigning champion, and rather daring for an Italian team given Lorenzo’s bitter rivalry with his current Yamaha teammate, the hugely popular Italian Valentino Rossi.
“Ducati has reached an agreement with Jorge Lorenzo for the Spanish rider to race the world championship MotoGP for 2017 and 2018,” a Ducati statement read.
The Spanish sports press reported widely that Lorenzo, who won 41 top level races with Yamaha, will be paid 25 million euros ($28 million) for the two-year term at Ducati.
The Japanese team with whom the 28-year-old Mallorcan has spent the past seven seasons wished their champion well.
“Yamaha is extremely grateful for Jorge’s contributions to its racing successes and looks forward to sharing more memorable moments during the remaining 15 MotoGP rounds of 2016,” it said in an official statement.
Twice a champion at 250cc, Lorenzo won the MotoGP world title in 2010, 2012, and in 2015 after a bitter struggle with Rossi, who accused a second Spaniard Marc Marquez of teaming up with Lorenzo to prevent him winning last year’s crown in a story that dominated the sport for months.
As Yamaha extended Rossi’s deal for two years in March, it was suspected that Lorenzo’s deal would be allowed to run out.
Although Yamaha have yet to confirm a new partner for Rossi, Spain’s up-and-coming 21-year-old Maverick Viñales, currently with Suzuki, is tipped to be that man.