Author: Oli Rushby Pics: Gold & Goose Posted: 19 Apr 2016
With news that Jorge Lorenzo will make a not-so-shock switch to Ducati now out, a major piece of the puzzle that is the 2017 MotoGP grid is now in place.
Lorenzo’s decision means the other factories can work on finalising their line-ups. Yamaha can decide who will join Rossi, Honda can decide who will join Marquez and Ducati can firm up who they want alongside the Spaniard on the Desmosedici.
Prior to the 2016 season’s start, it was widely assumed that should Lorenzo move to Ducati it would be Dovizioso making room for the Mallorcan. However, after Andrea Iannone has proved himself to be nothing but a loose cannon so far this year, falling early doors in Qatar before taking his team-mate out on the final corner in Argentina, Corse bosses are thought to be considering their options.
Dovizioso would be a perfect fit alongside Lorenzo as a number two. He’s shown in his time with both Ducati and Repsol Honda that he lacks that last little bit that makes a rider a consistent winner in the premier class, but he’s more than capable of consistently finishing on the podium.
It’s widely thought that Ducati should have won at least two races since the introduction of the GP15 last year – Qatar in both 2015 and 2016 – and that’s exactly why they went after a rider of Lorenzo’s calibre rather than continuing with the Dovizioso-Iannone pairing.
Iannone is undoubtedly the faster of Ducati’s current line-up, but how would Lorenzo react to an incident similar to that in Argentina? Being fast isn’t everything.
Whoever should make way for Lorenzo, there will be plenty of options for them. Suzuki could well be on the look out for a new factory rider, KTM have only put one bum on their two seats so far and there’s at least one bike free at Tech 3 Yamaha.
Maverick Vinales is hot favourite to join Valentino Rossi at Yamaha, although it’s rumoured Suzuki are looking at exercising an option in the Spaniard’s contract to keep hold of him for another year. If he wants to go however, they could be best closing that book and starting a new one. A rider working with a team he doesn’t want to work with will never end well.
Vinales’ smooth, corner-focused style is remarkably similar to Lorenzo’s so in theory he could go well on the Yamaha. Factory boss Lin Jarvis has made no secret that he’s interested in the Spaniard who has been tipped by many as the next big thing.
While there’s nothing on paper, it’s now certain Marquez will remain at Honda for the next two years. Before Lorenzo’s signing, there was the smallest chance the youngest ever world champion could have jumped switch to Ducati but this week’s news means he’s sure to stay put. After all, he isn’t going to go and join best mate Valentino at Yamaha, is he?
It’s all quite interesting, but what we’re all forgetting is that there are still 15 races left of the current season! There’ve been a lot of questions about whether Lorenzo will be treated any differently at Yamaha now he’s decided to leave, and the answer is yes and no. He won’t get to test any of the 2017 parts but it’s in Yamaha’s own interests to give him the kit to win a fourth title this year.