The worst kept secret in the MotoGP paddock is that current champ Jorge Lorenzo is jumping ship to Ducati for 2017. Several media outlets have already announced the move as a done deal, though as I write this neither Bologna nor Lorenzo have said anything – yet. There’s a lot of risk involved should George make the move, not least of which is utter failure should the move not bear fruit, but I think the switch is a good idea. Here are 10 reasons why.
10. A New Challenge
What’s left for J-Lo to accomplish at Yamaha? He’s placed a check mark next to every important feat to be had on the M1: pole positions, fastest laps, race wins, and most importantly – championships. He’s clearly seen what the Ducatis are capable of and, assuming neither of the Andreas score a victory this season, would love to be the first person to put Ducati on the top step since some Australian named Casey Stoner in 2010. The challenge of breaking a potential seven-year drought could be an enticing one for one of the world’s best motorcycle racers.
9. Numero Uno
Though he may be the owner of MotoGP’s number 1 plate this year, Lorenzo has seemingly always been second fiddle to Valentino Rossi whenever they’ve been on the same team. A move to Ducati will mean a definitive spot as the top dog on the team, no matter who his teammate is. Jorge Lorenzo will call the shots, which will feel even sweeter if/when those shots result in him finishing ahead of number 46.
The opening lyrics of Wu-Tang Clan’s C.R.E.A.M. go: “Cash rules everything around me” (hence the song title. Get it?) In Jorge Lorenzo’s case, the rumor mill is throwing about numbers of Ducati spending upwards of 15 million Euros a year to lure the Spaniard. That much cheese could be enough to rule everything around J-Lo. Lorenzo has never seemed like one who’d value a payday over a championship-winning motorcycle, but having a little extra cash in his pocket surely wouldn’t hurt in the event the 2017 (and 2018) Ducati turns out to be a dud.
7. Legacy Building
Manufacturers tend to idolize and elevate their racing heroes after they retire. Unfortunately for Jorge Lorenzo, no matter what he may accomplish at Yamaha, he’ll be overshadowed by one V. Rossi in company folklore. Assuming he’s successful at Ducati, Jorge will be automatically put on the same pedestal as Casey Stoner as the only two who could tame the Red Beast. And while I don’t know for sure, I’d imagine Lorenzo would get the warm fuzzies should he see a giant picture of him plastered on the side of the Ducati factory in Borgo Panigale – a treat reserved for those special riders in Ducati’s eyes.
6. Red Looks Good On Him
Once the rumor mill gets its wheels turning, it doesn’t take long for photoshop wizards to take action. Hence the photo above. I gotta say, the silver number plate does look pretty trick with the 99 emblazoned across it. And the red Ducati track jacket is pretty fashionable, too. You know, Italians are known for their fashion sense, so maybe Ducati can provide Jorge with a makeover on and off the track.
5. A Chance To Work With Casey Stoner
Should Lorenzo make the move to Bologna, he’d be crazy not to pick the brain of the only man so far who’s been able to tame the Desmosidici – Casey Stoner. Having the Australian around as one of the team’s official test riders will make that job incredibly easy, too. The shared input from two world champions, one would have to imagine, could only make the GP17 (or whatever Ducati’s 2017 MotoGP machine will be called) that much better. Should the bike be good enough for Lorenzo to win another title, it would make him only the sixth rider in the history of grand prix racing to win the premier class title for two different manufacturers. The others? Geoff Duke, Giacomo Agostini, Eddie Lawson, Valentino Rossi, and Casey Stoner.
4. A Chance To Hang With Stoner’s Wife
Then again… being around Casey Stoner will inevitably mean being around his wife, Adriana. And though I wouldn’t suggest Lorenzo would covet another man’s wife, she might have some nice single friends she could introduce him to.
Ok, back to business. There’s no denying the Ducati has some serious speed in a straight line. Meanwhile, the M1 Yamaha usually seems the slowest of the Big 3 (Honda, Yamaha, Ducati) when it comes to top speed. Racers like going fast, it’s in their blood, so when Lorenzo gets his doors blown off down the straight by a red bike it must tick his nerves. Speed is an intoxicating thing, something Jorge might not be able to resist.
Gigi Dall’igna was the mastermind that helped bring Aprilia back to World Superbike glory, and he’s the reason a move to Ducati is no longer considered a career killer (just ask Nicky Hayden, Marco Melandri, Cal Crutchlow, and one Valentino Rossi how the pre-Dall’igna Ducati days were). He’s responsible for Ducati’s resurgence and renewed relevance in MotoGP, and his technical know-how is no-doubt weighing on Lorenzo’s mind. The opportunity to share knowledge and have Dall’igna build a bike to his specific needs is something Jorge must find extremely intriguing.
1. Do Something Even Rossi Couldn’t Do
Jorge Lorenzo surely understands a move to Ducati will either cement his legacy if he ends up winning, or tarnish it if he doesn’t get results. However, he’s a rider with supreme belief in his skills, and he knows all too well that winning races – and especially a championship – on the Ducati would put a feather in his cap that not even his arch nemesis Valentino Rossi can claim. Take away the fame or the money, if he’s successful then the bait of putting one up on The Doctor is something Lorenzo will cherish far after his racing days are over. If he doesn’t make the switch then he might forever wonder “What If I Had Never Tried It?” Which, ironically, is the title of Valentino Rossi’s autobiography.