Yesterday the shock news from the MotoGP paddock was that Dani Pedrosa was to leave the Repsol Honda team, after 18 years with HRC and Honda.
Now, the news continues to astound, as HRC has confirmed that is has signed Jorge Lorenzo to a two-year contract with its MotoGP program, which will see the three-time MotoGP world champion join Marc Marquez in the factory Honda team.
The terse HRC announcement confirms reports that were published yesterday, almost immediately after Dani Pedrosa’s departure from Honda was made public.
A bit of a surprise to paddock pundits, who had widely tipped Lorenzo as headed to a satellite Yamaha effort, Lorenzo’s jump to Honda is certainly an interesting one.
It has been no small secret that the Spanish rider has been unhappy with his home at Ducati Corse, finding the GP17 a miserable bike to ride, and only this past weekend coming to terms with the GP18 – finding his first race win on the Ducati, in the process.
Ducati’s efforts have proven too little too late, however, especially with the war of words that has been exchanged by both his teammate Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali, both of whom had made less than flattering comments about Lorenzo recently in the media.
Today’s news should make the 2019 season one of the most anticipated, with many words already spent dismissing the chances of Lorenzo adapting to the Honda RC213V race bike, which many believe requires a riding style too different from Lorenzo’s own.
We can naturally expect Lorenzo eager to take up the challenge, not only to prove his naysayers wrong, but also to prove a point to his past employers who have questioned his talent and his worth.
For Honda, today’s news promises to be the start of the daunting task of managing the talents, and the accompanying egos, of both Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez, a task that will primarily fall on the sophomoric shoulders of Alberto Puig, a man who is also known for his talent and ego.
This all creates a powder keg of excitement inside the Repsol Honda garage, and undoubtedly we are all eager to see what it translates into, in terms of on-track action and results.
Has Repsol Honda just become an unstoppable force? Or, will signing Lorenzo be the undoing of Honda’s string of MotoGP Championship titles?
For now, all we know is that a major piece to the silly season puzzle has just been placed on the board. Expect many more announcement from the GP paddock to follow shortly.
Photo: Ducati Corse