MotoGP’s two year rider deals

The future of Jorge Lorenzo was finally decided in early June when it was announced that he would be switching from the factory Ducati team to the factory Honda team, alongside Marc Marquez.

There will undoubtedly be a lot of analysis over the years as to how successful Lorenzo’s stint at Ducati was and what could have been achieved had he stayed for longer.

Manca solo Jorge Lorenzo tra i piloti Ducati per l’appuntamento con la vittoria” by MotoGP Italia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

However Lorenzo’s time at Ducati does raise an interesting point about MotoGP currently, as does Andrea Iannone’s time at Suzuki. Due to only two year deals being signed and how early in a season some of these deals are confirmed, it leaves riders who have moved from one team to another very little time to settle and then also make an impression in their new team before potentially being┬ácast out of not just said team, but MotoGP entirely.

Taking Lorenzo as an example, he has had a season and a quarter at best to settle in the Ducati team and, more importantly, to get accustomed with the Ducati bike, which has a reputation of being a difficult bike to master. However, having seemingly now managed to get to grips to a certain extent with the bike, Lorenzo will be leaving the Italian team for Honda at the end of the season.

This is a similar fate that has befallen Iannone. Although you could say his attitude has contributed to his departure, the Suzuki bike is a lot better in 2018 compared with 2017 and Iannone has reaped the benefits of that, only to find himself being forced, to a certain extent, to move to Aprilia for 2019.

It is a warning to the likes of Johann Zarco who is moving from Tech3 to the KTM factory team, or even Joan Mir, who will be moving from a solitary season in Moto2 before taking Iannone’s ride at Suzuki. Especially when it comes to Zarco, he has shown he has the ability to win in MotoGP but there is always the possibility that may not happen with KTM and he could easily find himself in a similar situation to Lorenzo in a season and a quarter.

Some may say that Zarco and Mir will be different, but many would have expected Lorenzo to have got to grips with the Ducati bike sooner, and despite his undoubted talent and ability to deliver at the highest level, Lorenzo was to a certain extent on the verge of having to settle for a factory Yamaha but with a satellite team and there were even questions whether he would be forced into retirement. That despite the success he has had in the series, including winning the MotoGP championship as recently as 2015.

It’s a very sharp reminder that in high level competition, there is no guarantee of staying at the top for long, and as Lorenzo has shown, even the very best in a given sport can very quickly find their sporting careers thrown into doubt.


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