Of Lorenzo’s first Ducati win, Honda and Pedrosa’s divorce, and the biggest news of all - Lorenzo teaming up with Marquez.
After taking his first ever win on a Ducati in Mugello, Jorge Lorenzo looked the happiest in a long, long time. And that was understood because it took him one and a half years, and a lot of hard work, to get on the top spot of the rostrum, wearing Ducati colours. Lorenzo’s win in Mugello certainly silenced critics, for that race was a proof that the Spaniard’s career is far from over. If you give him what he wants – in this case, it was a redesigned fuel tank and a new frame – then he becomes untouchable. He’s still a three-time MotoGP world champion after all!
With Lorenzo and Ducati’s marriage finally hitting the groove, the future of the pair looked promising. But then, everything turned sour at the post-race conference, where Lorenzo suggested that it was ‘too late’ to continue with Ducati and subtly hinted of riding a ‘good bike’ for the next two years. At first, all speculations pointed towards him going to a Petronas-backed Yamaha satellite team. But then Honda dropped the bomb!
End of an era
Two days after the Mugello race, Repsol Honda announced that it’s going to end its 18-year long partnership with Dani Pedrosa from 2019! It was a big surprise for sure, but one that’s been coming for a long time. You see, the divorce between Pedrosa and HRC can be attributed to two main factors – internal politics, mainly his equation with team manager Alberto Puig, and the fact that his performance hasn’t been all that great this year.
Having said that, no one can deny that Pedrosa is one of the most underrated riders in MotoGP. Ever since he entered MotoGP, he’s the only rider in the field to have won at least one race every year – only the great Giacomo Agostini has an equal 12 consecutive wins. In addition to that, he’s only second to Valentino Rossi in terms of total number of podium finishes – 112, to be precise. Since his debut in the premier class in 2006, he has racked up 31 wins and 31 pole positions in MotoGP. And then he has got one record that may possibly never get beaten – the title of being the most successful rider to have never won a premier class championship! Pedrosa was runner-up three times in the last 13 years with Honda, but he never became a world champion. Some may say that his results have always been underwhelming, but those who follow MotoGP regularly will attest to the fact that if it weren’t for countless injuries and bad luck – remember San Marino 2012? – Pedrosa would’ve had a title or two by now.
While Pedrosa and Honda parting ways was a huge surprise in itself, the announcement of his replacement came across as a bit of a shocker to many. After a lot of speculations, it became clear that it was Lorenzo – perhaps, the most unlikely candidate – who’s going to replace Pedrosa!
It’s a huge challenge for sure – be teammates with Marquez at Honda and ride a wild horse of a motorcycle that’s polar opposite to Lorenzo’s smooth style – but then, you can argue that Lorenzo is finally showing improvements at Ducati. For nearly 18 months, the combination of Ducati and Lorenzo was a disaster, but in the last two weeks, Lorenzo has won back-to-back races in Mugello and Barcelona. And he’s riding in a similar ‘metronomic’ style like he used to with Yamaha. If Lorenzo learns to tame the Honda next year, the spectators would be in for some rather exciting racing.
Apart from Lorenzo, Suzuki has confirmed to have signed Joan Mir, who’ll replace Andrea Iannone, while Iannone has been hired by Aprilia for the next two years. Replacing Lorenzo at Ducati will be Danilo Petrucci, from 2019.
Now the biggest question is, what will happen to Pedrosa? There are no factory seats left, and at one moment, it seemed like he was all set to retire! However, rumours are running rife that the Yamaha-Petronas satellite team will happen with Pedrosa as the lead rider. Now, let’s wait and see where the final piece of the silly season puzzle fall . . .