Jorge Lorenzo has signed for Ducati. So said Suzuki team boss Davide Brivio – a knowledgeable Italian GP insider, whose past portfolio includes luring Rossi to Yamaha from Honda and paving the way for Viñales in MotoGP.
Ducati and Lorenzo remained tight-lipped but according to the rumour mill the deal has already been done, with Lorenzo accepting a big-money offer to switch to the iconic Italian marque. His teammate Valentino Rossi declined to comment, beyond a reminder that the current iteration of the Desmosedici is a much better bike than the one he moved to, when he stomped out of Yamaha at the end of 2010.
Viñales, who is understood to have been approached already to replace Lorenzo at Yamaha, surprised listeners when he welcomed the extra pressure of the speculation and uncertainty. “I think it helps me to focus and be faster,” he said. Tongues were set wagging even more when Ducati failed to renew Andrea Iannone’s contract after his last-corner blooper in Argentina where he took himself and teammate Dovizioso out of a guaranteed double podium. Both of the Ducati pair’s names have been linked to a Suzuki move to replace Viñales, while the experienced and knowledgeable Dovizioso would be a valuable addition to KTM’s new team, alongside Bradley Smith.
Moto2 champion Johann Zarco is also a potential target for both Suzuki and to replace Smith at Tech 3, while Alex Rins is also a strong contender for a Tech 3 seat, with a view to a future move to the factory Yamaha team. Meanwhile, Rossi denied rumours that SKY VR46 was going to bid for the single vacant slot on the MotoGP grid next year. “I have spoken with Carmelo [Ezpeleta, Dorna CEO], but we have no plans. Anyway we hope to have a one-rider SKY VR46 team in Moto2 next year.”