The worst kept secret in MotoGP history was finally confirmed on Monday afternoon as Yamaha announced the departure of Jorge Lorenzo from their ranks at the end of the 2016 season.
It took Ducati just ten minutes to confirm the news that the Spaniard had in fact signed a deal with the Bologna-based outfit and to anyone who follows the championship it was no real surprise.
The truth can be a funny thing. Although it was public knowledge that the deal was signed, sealed and delivered after the Argentine Grand Prix it didn’t really hit home until the move was officially confirmed.
Yamaha have won five out of the last ten MotoGP world titles – what are you doing, Jorge?
Gracias a todos por los mensajes recibidos. Nos vemos en Jerez! / Thank you for all your messages. See you in Jerez! pic.twitter.com/LadpBCP1bu
— Jorge Lorenzo (@lorenzo99) April 19, 2016
After the initial reaction of bewilderment, shock and in some cases awe, the deeper you dug the more the Spaniard’s switch began to make sense.
Lorenzo is a three-time MotoGP World Champion, throw two more into the mix at 250cc level before making the jump to the premier class and you start to see the shape of a man born to ride a motorbike.
Yet, even still, the 29-year-old remains in the shadows at Yamaha. In any other team he would be top dog, king of the hill, number one, but he isn’t and never will be.
Valentino Rossi is a global icon and has been the poster boy for motorbike racing for the past two decades – but more importantly – he is a nine-time World Champion; in other words, Rossi is racing royalty.
The Italian’s popularity knows no bounds and Yamaha know that, but for Lorenzo the move to Ducati represents a chance to do something that Rossi never did and maybe that was the Desmosedici’s winning card.
Lorenzo knows that to be considered among the best you have to match their accomplishments and if he does win Ducati’s first world crown since Casey Stoner’s departure in 2007 he will move up into elite company.
Winning the Championship with two manufacturers has only ever been accomplished by a handful of riders but for Lorenzo, it goes deeper, an obsession deeper.
When Valentino made the move to Ducati it was big news in his home country, but Rossi’s efforts on a bike that was poor from the outset were disastrous and the dream never became a reality for Rossi or a nation – step in Lorenzo.
The one thing that has beaten Rossi in his career has now been presented to Lorenzo on a silver platter. To not only match the achievement of winning the title on two different bikes but to do the one thing that the Italian couldn’t – make Ducati great once again.
Lorenzo, whether he admits it or not, has an inferiority complex when it comes to the Italian and it is something that he has never gotten over, it is an obsession of sorts.
Even with the three World Championships sitting in the cabinet the Spaniard still has that will to defeat Rossi at every turn and nothing more would please him than doing the unthinkable.
Ducati test rider Casey Stoner’s lap times prove the bike is quick, but of course there is an element of risk in the move. Lorenzo will have to spend a vast amount of time fine tuning and adapting to the Desmosedici’s demands but he is a competitor and what do competitors do? They find a way.
Only Lorenzo could tell you the real reasons for his career defining move, but a chance to defeat the almighty Valentino Rossi, well that, that is just something that is too good to turn down.
An obsession? Almost definitely.