Honda will approach Jorge Lorenzo about forming a Spanish super team with new MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez in 2015.
With all top riders out of contract at the end of this year, speculation on Lorenzo’s 2015 future has kicked off, with the Spaniard already linked with an unlikely Ducati transfer.
HRC Vice-President Shuhei Nakamoto is a long-time admirer of Lorenzo, who has won two world titles for Japanese rivals Yamaha in 2010 and 2012.
HRC made a failed attempt to lure Lorenzo off a factory YZR-M1 for last season, but Nakamoto has made it clear he would like to get back round the negotiating table again with the gifted 26-year-old, who missed out on a third premier class crown to rookie sensation Marquez by just four-points.
Nakamoto told MCN: “He (Lorenzo) is a very strong rider and I like him a lot. I like his approach to racing."
Asked specifically if he planned to approach Lorenzo for a 2015 ride on a factory RC213V 1000cc machine, Nakamoto added: “Why not? He is a number one rider. I will speak to him about the future, like I will with all riders including Marc and Dani (Pedrosa). Many people ask me if we are interested in Jorge and I say of course. “
Pedrosa’s failure to capture the world title in eight previous attempts with HRC clearly puts him in a vulnerable position, but Honda is refusing to admit that 2014 will be his last opportunity.
Yamaha certainly won’t be letting Lorenzo depart without a fight, even though it won’t be able to match the financial muscle that Honda can if a bidding war ensues for his sought after signature.
Lorenzo has become Yamaha’s talisman and his incalculable value to the Japanese brand was blindingly obvious again last season.
With eight wins, he was the standout YZR-M1 rider and his final tally of 330-points was a record for a rider that finished runner-up in the world championship.
His huge importance to the Yamaha cause was emphasised again by his team boss Wilco Zeelenberg, who said: “It is very important to keep Jorge. We are so impressed with his performances. We show him a lot of respect and he knows we have him at the top of the list and we know other manufacturers can see he has special skills. But I would hate to see Jorge leave Yamaha."
Lorenzo has always been steadfast in his loyalty to Yamaha and he has forged a close relationship with MotoGP boss Lin Jarvis and Zeelenberg.
He seems adamant at wanting to stay at Yamaha beyond his current deal, but only if the 2014 YZR-M1 is a bike he can challenge Marquez and Pedrosa on.
Speaking exclusively to MCN at the end of last season about his future prospects, Lorenzo said: “Obviously to have a very competitive bike is the main thing because we are all trying to win the championship. And it is even more important when you are a winning rider and have a competitive spirit like me, Valentino, Marc or Dani. We want to have at least a bike as competitive as the others. I would like that when it is time to decide for my next contract I will have a competitive bike and if this happens I would like to continue my career in Yamaha. My dream is to finish my career in Yamaha."
With Yamaha boss Jarvis conceding he fully expects a fresh bid from HRC, Lorenzo gave his thoughts on the potential for renewed interest from Honda and he added: “This is one way to take a rival from your main competitor and in theory if this happens then for Yamaha it would be more difficult to win. But the theory does not always match reality. For my past couple of contract negotiations I have received offers not only from Honda but also from other brands. I expect that not only me but that Dani, Marc, and Valentino will have offers from other brands. Anything can happen. Maybe I will be seventh or eighth and either Honda or Yamaha will want me for 2015. Maybe Suzuki will want me, you never know. Maybe Suzuki will make an unbelievable bike and be the strongest one in two or three years, or maybe Ducati. Everything can change quickly."
Lorenzo finished third fastest in this week’s Sepang test and for eight pages from the Malaysia showdown, see the February 12 issue of MCN.