That this Silly Season – the (bi)annual round of rider contract negotiations – was going to be remarkable has been obvious for a very long time.
Only very rarely have the contracts of nearly every rider on the grid ended at the same time, leading to a frenzy of speculation and rumor about who could and will be going where for the 2017 season.
That this year is special was made obvious at Qatar, where both Valentino Rossi and Bradley Smith announced they had already signed two-year deals for 2017 and 2018 before the flag had even dropped for the first race.
Jorge Lorenzo has been the key figure in this year’s Silly Season, however. Of the four current MotoGP Aliens, he is the most likely to move, and to be offered big money to do so.
Valentino Rossi is nearing his retirement, and his long-term future is tied up with Yamaha, so re-signing with the Japanese factory was a no-brainer.
Marc Márquez may leave Honda at some point in his career, but at the moment, he has too many ties binding him to HRC.
Dani Pedrosa may be a proven winner, but he is the only one of the four not to have won a championship. It is Lorenzo who is attracting all of the interest.
It now appears that Lorenzo’s future may already be settled. Well-informed sources inside the paddock have told me that Jorge Lorenzo has already signed a deal with Ducati, and perhaps at a record price.
Certainly at a price which Yamaha would be unwilling – and probably unable – to match.