Signing Jorge Lorenzo on a new contract will be a key priority for Yamaha at the start of the 2012 MotoGP world championship campaign.
The 2010 world champion is out of contract at the end of next season with Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi, and Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis has conceded it is essential for the Japanese factory’s hopes of future success that the Spaniard signs an extended deal.
Lorenzo was the only rider in 2011 to consistently take the fight to Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner before his title challenged was ended by a serious left hand injury picked up during a warm-up crash for the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
Even though he didn’t start the final three races of the campaign, the 24-year-old still comfortably secured second place in the final standings behind dominant Aussie Stoner.
Jarvis told MCN: "Keeping Jorge is key. Contract negotiations will open up for all of the top riders next year, so having one of either Jorge or Casey is very, very important."
The desire for Lorenzo to stay is likely to see Yamaha push for an early conclusion to negotiations and Jarvis added: "There is no reason to wait, so we might as well move early. I think Jorge is comfortable in Yamaha and as long as we can see eye to eye on the terms I don't expect he will be itching to go elsewhere. One key factor will be if our new 1000cc bike is competitive and I'm very confident about that."
For the full interview with Jarvis, which includes his thoughts on Valentino Rossi’s prospects of a future return to Yamaha, the expectations of Ben Spies in 2012 and the chances of Andrea Dovizioso moving to the factory squad in 2013, see today’s (December 21) issue of MCN.