Jorge Lorenzo starts a new chapter in his illustrious racing career, in Qatar this weekend, when he will race in Repsol Honda colours for the first time.
The triple MotoGP champion, who won 44 races with Yamaha and then 3 for Ducati, has signed to partner reigning five-time champion Marc Marquez for the next two seasons.
The head-to-head between Marquez and Lorenzo is a mouth-watering prospect, with Jorge’s father Chicho Lorenzo explaining to Tammy Gorali:
“The move from Yamaha to Ducati was very emotional because it was the first change for Jorge in the top category. But when we look at this move into the Repsol Honda team it’s a completely different challenge.
“Here are two great champions, with the same equipment, same motorcycle, same team and this time the feeling is different because if at the end of the season Jorge succeeds to be at the top that will be equivalent for more than a title.
“It is a very unique situation to have two such champions in the same team. It will be interesting not only for me but also for the fans, the professionals at the track, and even other riders.
“Everyone is following this closely and there are many expectations, this is something we have not seen in many years.”
There’s just one problem; neither Repsol Honda rider is fully fit at the moment.
Marquez underwent major shoulder surgery in December, while Lorenzo broke the scaphoid bone in his left wrist in January and only returned to action at last week’s final pre-season test.
Three nights was nowhere near enough to get through a normal pre-season programme, let alone the wrist restrictions. But Lorenzo finished with the sixth fastest lap time, showing he is already quick over one lap with the RC213V. Marquez was fourth fastest and top Honda.
“Lining up on the grid in Qatar is something I have been picturing during the entire off-season,” Lorenzo said.
“It’s a new era for me and for the team, it is a special moment to be riding for the Repsol Honda Team. I am ready to give everything to achieve the best results I can on the Honda.
“Unfortunately I am not yet at my maximum with the bike, but I still believe we can achieve a good result here in Qatar.
“As with every year, MotoGP is looking very competitive and we certainly have the package we need to fight with the best after some more time. I know we can achieve greatness.”
Lorenzo – a six-time Qatar winner – finished second on his Yamaha MotoGP debut at the circuit in 2008, but only eleventh on his Ducati debut in 2017.
A victory at Honda would make Lorenzo only the fifth rider in history to win premier-class races with three different manufacturers.