Jorge Lorenzo’s team manager Wilco Zeelenberg hopes the obvious competitiveness of the latest Yamaha will overcome the reigning champion’s likely temptation to try another MotoGP bike.
Lorenzo made a perfect start to his ninth season at Yamaha with victory in the Qatar season opener, the first event with Michelin as exclusive tyre supplier and a single ECU.
But while team-mate Valentino Rossi has already signed a two-year contract extension, Lorenzo – who received his new offer at the same time – is yet to decide amid rumours of an approach by Ducati.
“This will be his own decision and it won’t be just one factor,” Zeelenberg said in Qatar. “It is true that Jorge [has a strong package at Yamaha] but I can also imagine all competitors at a certain point want to do something else.
“Looking at that, he has been at Yamaha for eight years, there is a possibility he will [leave]. But I hope of course he is clever enough to stay with Yamaha and to win another two titles – maybe three [including this season].”
Lorenzo emerged on top of a close four-rider group to win in Losail.
“The race was tight. I expected Maverick [Vinales] there as well, but anyway it was nice to see a group battling,” Zeelenberg said. “Okay they didn’t battle like Moto2 or Moto3 of course, because the bikes are heavier, every tenth counts and you could see they were riding on the limit.
“When Andrea was in front, he was fast but the pace was dropping two or three tenths. This is the difficult point, to keep ‘55.4-5 lap times. The rest were able to follow, but Jorge set the benchmark and was able to make another step when the fuel level dropped to escape. This is his personality and character.”
Lorenzo – MotoGP champion in 2010, 2012 and 2015 – won the Qatar race by 2.019s from Andrea Dovizioso, with Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi a fraction behind the Ducati rider.
Ducati has not won a MotoGP race since 2010.