The one major decision that all the other riders with expiring contracts this year were waiting on was announced today, with Yamaha announcing that Jorge Lorenzo has signed on for another year with the Fiat Yamaha squad. Much of the Spanish media were already stating that the “deal was as good as done” for Lorenzo to switch to Ducati for a contract rumored to be in the $4 million range, but the man from Majorca (the largest island off the eastern coast of Spain) apparently decided that it would be better to go with a known quantity than the unknown world of getting the Ducati dialed in to run up front—which no one other than Casey Stoner has been able to do so far.
"I am very happy!" said Lorenzo. "Today is a good day because I have decided to remain with the Yamaha Factory Team in 2010. It was a very important decision and that's why I have had to take the last few weeks to make it, but I think that this is the best decision for me in this moment. I want to thank Yamaha because they have always done everything that they have promised, and I especially would like to say thank you to Lin Jarvis and Masao Furusawa."
Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing, can obviously breathe a sigh of relief knowing that his company will have two of the best riders in MotoGP (and possibly three, if Spies makes a move to the Monster Tech 3 squad as some rumors suggest) next year. "We are obviously delighted that Jorge has decided to stay at Yamaha for the next season and we hope that he will remain at Yamaha for many years to come,” said Jarvis. “Jorge has shown his talent, his ability to learn and to compete at the highest level with many excellent performances in 2008 and 2009. We have no doubt that he has the ability and drive to become MotoGP World Champion and we are proud that he has decided to remain with Yamaha, despite having received some very serious approaches from some of our competitors. This timely decision now allows us to focus on the present championship, where our riders are currently first and second, and to make definitive plans for our 2010 MotoGP program."
Lorenzo’s decision to stay put settles some of speculation on other teams, but still opens up a lot of others. Ducati’s future with both Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden is questionable, with a lot of hope resting on Stoner recovering from his mystery illness that resulted in an unusual three-race sabbatical from the series. Hayden’s future with Ducati is even more tenuous, as he has struggled to get the Ducati working the way he’d like, and only has a fifth place finish to show for his efforts so far. Repsol Honda was basically out of the picture after new HRC director Tetsuo Suzuki announced that an “agreement” had been reached with both Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovisioso. With Lorenzo staying at Fiat Yamaha, the possibility that Colin Edwards would be called to return as Rossi’s teammate is gone, so it’s increasingly likely that he will stay at Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, although in the political world of racing these days, nothing is too likely.