Jorge Lorenzo confirms Yamaha, Aprilia negotiations | MotoGP

by Nov 2, 20200 comments

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Jorge Lorenzo has confirmed rumours that he is speaking to Aprilia about a MotoGP test riding role in 2021.

But the retired triple MotoGP champion insists it is currently only a ‘Plan B’ and that his ‘first option’ is to continue as a test rider for Yamaha, the factory with which he won his premier-class titles, despite only making two test appearances this year.

“I want to continue as a test rider and my first option is still Yamaha,” Lorenzo told AS.com. “Because I have won with them and I feel very good on the bike, but there are other options as well… The other option is Aprilia, yes.”

Doubts have been cast on the continuation of the Lorenzo-Yamaha testing partnership given his rare track appearances, use of 2019-spec bikes and lack of competitive lap times during the recent Portimao test.

But the Spaniard explained the Portuguese outing, the first time Lorenzo had been on a bike since Sepang in February, had come as a last-minute surprise:

“The reality is that I only did two days of testing in Sepang… And recently I had a day and a half in Portimao.

“In June, when we were in ‘full Covid’ [lockdown], I was informed from Yamaha that there would surely be no more tests [this year] so I lowered my training pace…

“[Then Yamaha] told me that there was this test in Portimao and I started training as best I could. There was little time left and I did not arrive in the best shape, and above all I had not gotten on a MotoGP bike for eight months, which is a super extreme motorcycle.

“You lose your rhythm, your reflexes, your reaction time and to get all that back you need a few days of acclimatisation – whether your name is Lorenzo, Rossi or Marquez.

“If you add to that a circuit as difficult and strange as Portimao, with a team [put together] at the last minute, plus an old [2019] motorcycle, it is difficult to be competitive.”

Lorenzo feels a true reflection of his pace remains the 1.3s gap to the best of the MotoGP race riders seen at Sepang.

“And that was without being able to mount the last soft tyre because it started to rain. Riding the soft would have made me stay half-a-second or seven-tenths off first,” Lorenzo said.

“I would like to continue, but if Yamaha decides not to count on me it will be a real shame for both parties. Honestly, I think it will be impossible for them to find  [another] rider who adapts so naturally to the style that Yamaha requires and has the same sensitivity to detect the right direction for the evolution of each piece.”

On the other hand, the #99 confirmed the attraction in joining back-of-the grid Aprilia would be to try and bring the project to new heights, as former rival Dani Pedrosa has done at KTM, and “complete a circle” that began when he raced for Piaggio’s Derbi/Aprilia brands in 125 and 250.

Lorenzo would also like to help coach fellow Lugano resistant Andrea Iannone, if the Italian is able to race for Aprilia next season, pending the outcome of his CAS appeal, and didn’t rule out wild-cards (as had been planned for Yamaha this season, prior to Covid).

Current Aprilia test rider Bradley Smith has been dropped as a replacement for Iannone for the final three rounds, a surprise decision that many believe also points towards the Englishman being replaced as the factory’s main test rider in 2021.

Should Lorenzo leave Yamaha, Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso is a rumoured alternative, although the Italian is also being linked with a Honda test deal.

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