Let’s put this awkward break-up in a context that we can relate to here in North America. We will go with a hockey scenario. Take one of the handful of premier players in the NHL, one of the top scorers, the game make or breakers. Now imagine that one of those top guys a third of the way through the season announces that he has signed a contract to play for a new team, the current Stanley Cup champions, in the upcoming season. With 55 games left in the current season he announces that he will be playing for a fierce competitor the following year? You have to think that isn’t going to go over so well. The fans wouldn’t be happy, the league wouldn’t be happy, his current teammates wouldn’t be happy, the current team owner wouldn’t be happy. You could draw a circle around everyone everywhere and mark it unhappy. The entire scenario seems so ludicrous as to be unimaginable. But now transfer that scenario into MotoGP racing and it suddenly reality.
At the end of the 2016 MotoGP season Jorge Lorenzo left the Yamaha factory team and scootered his way over to the Ducati factory team. It seemed like a good fit as Lorenzo was only a year removed from winning the third MotoGP championship of his career and Ducati was 9 years removed from their last MotoGP championship. The Ducati race bike was a contender and it now had a past champion aboard. Only good things could come from that pairing. Or so it seemed at the time.
The 2017 MotoGP season didn’t work out that well for either Ducati or Lorenzo as he finished the season in seventh place and only saw the podium three times with one second place and two third places. 2018 seemed to be looking much the same way with the first five races going progressing as such – DNF, 15th, 11th, DNF and 6th. Not hopeful. But on June 3 in the 6th race of the 19 race season, Lorenzo wins on his factory Ducati for the first time. A couple days later he announces that he will be joining Marq Marquez (reigning and four time champion) at the Repsol Honda team for the 2019 season. To rub salt in a wound somewhere, Lorenzo goes and wins the next race on the calendar – two in a row… on the Ducati …. which he won’t be riding next year. All this is going to make for a very interesting final 12 twelve races of the season. Lorenzo is still a long way behind Marquez in points but if he manages to keep up the pace and closes the point gap, what then? It seems to be a situation that was coming together before it all fell apart. But isn’t that the way break-ups often go and there is bound to be some unhappiness ….. let’s draw a circle….
Of course the next question is who replaces Lorenzo at Ducati? Many race fans will be waiting to find out.