Jorge Lorenzo will return to Yamaha as part of its test team for 2020 the Japanese marque has announced, with wild-card rides for the three-time MotoGP champ a “possibility”.
Lorenzo’s announcement is the latest in a flurry of announcements by Yamaha regarding their future riding line-ups, with Maverick Vinales confirmed as extending his stay at the squad until at least the end of ’22 on Tuesday, while Fabio Quartararo was announced as Vinales’ team-mate from ’21 and beyond yesterday.
The Mallorcan will ride a Yamaha for the first time since ’15 during the Sepang shakedown test in early February, before taking part in a series of official and private tests later in the year.
Yamaha say no wild-card rides are currently planned during ’20, but that they are open to the possibility should Lorenzo want to race again.
“I’m very happy with the decision to join the Yamaha Factory Test Team. 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.
“I’m very motivated to get to work and can’t wait to start riding. I want to do my best for Yamaha’s future, and I hope my riding experience will be helpful to Yamaha’s engineers and riders to bring the title back to Yamaha.”
Lorenzo won three premier class titles with Yamaha in ’10, ’12 and ’15 -having made his MotoGP debut with the team for the ’08 campaign- before flying the nest and joining Ducati for ’17.
He struggled to make an impact early on despite scoring his first rostrum for the Italian manufacturer in Jerez that year, not making a true breakthrough until a change of seat propelled him into the leading action in the early stages of his sophomore year with Ducati.
It was too little too late though, as Ducati had already made the decision to replace him with Danilo Petrucci despite two successive wins-before adding a third in Austria-forcing him to join Marc Marquez at Honda ahead of last year.
He struggled though, scoring a lowly best result of 11th before announcing his retirement from professional racing at the ‘19 finale in Valencia.