Yamaha has continued its sensational week of MotoGP contract announcements by revealing three-time champion Jorge Lorenzo will return to its fold as a test rider.
Lorenzo retired from racing at the end of an injury plagued 2019 season with Honda, with which he had originally been contracted through 2020 as well.
Yamaha’s statement revealing its new deal with Lorenzo left the door open for him to make a racing comeback, saying: “so far, no wildcard rides are planned for Lorenzo in 2020, but Yamaha is open to the possibility, should he decide to race again”.
The 32-year-old spent the majority of his MotoGP career with Yamaha, riding for it from 2008 to ’16 and winning the 2010, ’12 and ’15 titles and 44 races.
“I was always planning on staying involved in MotoGP and returning to the paddock, and I think this is a suitable role for me,” said Lorenzo.
“I know the team and the M1 well. The Yamaha really suited my riding style, and it will be very interesting to meet up with my old bike again.
“Returning to Yamaha brings with it some good memories. We secured many podiums and victories, and three titles together, so we know where our strengths lie.
“I want to thank Yamaha for this opportunity, because this allows me to do what I love – riding motorbikes and pushing the limit – whilst enjoying a slightly calmer lifestyle than I did in previous years.”
Having left Yamaha at the end of 2016, Lorenzo moved to Ducati where he initially struggled to gel with the bike before scoring three wins in his second year.
Ironically those all came after it became clear that Ducati was unlikely to retain him for 2019, prompting Lorenzo to do a deal to join Marquez at Honda. Injuries and a lack of affinity with the bike meant he endured a miserably uncompetitive season before announcing his retirement.
Yamaha MotoGP managing director Lin Jarvis said he had wasted no time in trying to re-sign Lorenzo after his retirement decision.
“When we knew that Jorge would stop his active racing career, we immediately started to consider making a proposal for him to join us,” said Jarvis.
“The statistics of his achievements with us in those nine years together speak for themselves. He is a vastly experienced MotoGP rider, who is closely familiar with the M1 and the people at Yamaha.
“We have come to know Jorge as a very precise and motivated rider, with flawless consistency and good technical insight: all the qualities you need in a test rider at this high level.”
Valentino Rossi’s former crew chief Silvano Galbusera will work with Lorenzo in the test team.
Lorenzo will begin his programme immediately, taking part in the official shakedown test at Sepang on February 2-4.
Yamaha had already announced this week that it would be replacing Rossi with current Petronas SRT rider Fabio Quartararo in its 2021 works line-up, and also extended Maverick Vinales’ works contract.