Jorge Lorenzo has crushed intense speculation that he would switch to Honda next season to replace Casey Stoner by signing a new two-year deal to remain with Yamaha’s factory squad.
The Spaniard has agreed a new deal after his management repeatedly claimed there had been no big money approach from HRC.
Lorenzo’s new deal will serve as a massive relief to Yamaha management, who have been desperate to sign the 2010 world champion since the start of the season.
He was offered a new deal as early as the second race in Jerez but delayed a final decision, and many thought he would wait a while longer after Stoner announced his retirement from MotoGP at the end of 2012.
That shock decision put Lorenzo in control of the rider market for next season but throughout the early part of the season he has always maintained his number one priority was to remain with Yamaha.
He currently leads the world championship by 20-points from Stoner after winning three of the opening five races and in a statement released by Yamaha this morning he said: “I am extremely happy to have signed with Yamaha for two more years.
"They’ve made great efforts to retain me in the factory team so I want to thank all those involved at Yamaha for this. I’ve been treated like part of the Yamaha family since 2008 and I love working with them.
"It has always been my first option to stay here and so I’m happy that this important negotiation has finished with such a positive outcome.
"Now I can focus on the championship and I’m looking forward to paying back Yamaha’s trust in me starting at Silverstone this weekend.
"I look forward to winning many more championships together; my dream to finish my career with Yamaha is now closer to becoming a reality.”
Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis was naturally delighted to have secured the services of Lorenzo for 2013 and ’14 having recently expressed concern that the Japanese factory could be dragged into a bidding war with HRC.
He told MCN at the last race in Catalunya: “We won’t go into a battle with Honda on money. I expect they will make a proposal to him but it depends what Jorge wants.
"Is it a struggle for money? If that is the main target above all else then it gives him more negotiating power but I think a rider should balance the offer of what he gets in terms of the technical support, the hardware, the crew, the staff and his position within the team.
"Money and conditions are an important factor but every rider has to consider the whole package.
"If Casey had stayed we would have needed Jorge even more and it doesn’t really change anything for us because we need a top guy capable of winning the championship.”
Having captured Lorenzo now on a two-year deal, Jarvis said in a statement: “This is excellent news for Yamaha and for the Yamaha Factory Racing Team. Jorge has been with us since 2008 and achieved superb results in the first four years, the highlight being his world championship victory in 2010.
"He’s currently on top form having won three of the first five GP races and finishing second in the other two.
"Jorge’s contract extension allows both him and Yamaha to concentrate 100% on this year’s championship challenge without any distractions and also to make future plans together to further strengthen the winning partnership.”
Lorenzo’s decision to remain with Yamaha leaves HRC now likely to push for the rookie rule to be scrapped so they can accommodate Moto2 star Marc Marquez. At the moment he is barred from moving straight to a factory team by the rookie rule that was introduced in 2010.
Valentino Rossi could also be a target for HRC if the rookie rule remains in place to join Dani Pedrosa. Or if the rookie rule is scrapped, Honda might see Marquez as the future star and pair him with Rossi given Pedrosa’s long-running failure to capture the MotoGP crown.
He has been with the factory team since 2006 but hasn’t yet win the title, while Stoner won the crown in his first season with Honda last year.