It’s Tuesday so that means it’s the third and final day of the MotoGP pre-test test session at Sepang, and it’s the first day back on a works Yamaha for five-time World Champion Jorge Lorenzo.
Out of retirement to take up the official role of development rider, Lorenzo will spearhead the rapid development of the Yamaha M1 for the current factory team of Vinales and Rossi. So far, so pretty normal for the role of a test rider on a factory’s development programme.
However, there’s a bit more to this than might appear at first and the rumours are building about what might happen in the near future – especially after Yamaha effectively ‘retired’ Valentino Rossi from the factory team in 2021. Read more about that HERE.
Not long after the news about Rossi being out of the Yamaha factory set-up broke, there was the statement from Yamaha about Lorenzo’s development duties as test rider for the MotoGP Yamaha M1, and in it was one sentence in particular that caught the eye. Yamaha said: “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.“
So what does this mean? Well, it certainly sounds like either side of the equation could have hinted that they might enjoy a return to racing by Lorenzo this season. You can bet a lot of that will rest on whatever pace Jorge can find in the coming days, if he’s fast enough then expect him to cherry pick the odd race here and there.
But what’s more interesting than that is what happens in 2021 – but it relies on a couple of big ‘ifs’. Now, Rossi has already said that he’s going to wait until round seven or eight this year to see how his pace is, if he’s still competitive and if he thinks it’s worth carrying on in GP with Yamaha. This has come about after Yamaha’s decision to drop the nine-time World Champ from it’s 2021 line-up.
So, if Rossi is fast enough and feels the fire by the middle of the season AND if Lorenzo is fast enough and feels the fire during the test sessions and (possible) hand-picked races in 2020, then what.
Yamaha has already said that it will make factory bikes and support available to Rossi for 2021 if he decides to contest that season. Yamaha has already said that it’s open to Lorenzo racing for them again, should he want to.
Could we see two very serious Yamaha teams in 2021? One with the title-threateners of Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quatararo to take on the Marquez brothers on Repsol Hondas (although the Repsol money is very likely to be gone at the end of 2020 so let’s just call the 2021 bikes Hondas) – the other Yamaha team an ‘old boys’ pairing of Rossi and Lorenzo with 14 world titles between them?
Yeah, we could. Strongest ever game play by Yamaha. Providing Rossi and Lorenzo are up to it.
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