Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Jorge and Ducati: how will it go?

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


Jorge and Ducati: how will it go?

Yamaha may have refused to give Lorenzo full early release from his 2016 contract but there are other factors that will have much greater effect on his 2017 form

Who knows why Jorge Lorenzo and Yamaha have had a falling-out – maybe we’ll find out when we get to Motegi, or maybe we won’t.

The factory’s decision to allow its three-time MotoGP champion to test with Ducati just once before the winter testing moratorium suggests that the two have had a squabble and this is Yamaha’s way of rapping his knuckles.

I can’t say I’m that surprised. Relations often sour between rider and manufacturer before the two go their separate ways. As Nicky Hayden said shortly before he left Honda for Ducati a few years ago, “things are getting a li’l salty right now.”

And, in hindsight, I’m even less surprised considering a brief chat I had with a senior member of Yamaha management at Aragon three weeks ago. This was after Lorenzo had reemphasised his dissatisfaction with Valentino Rossi’s Misano manoeuvre. What do you reckon to Jorge’s opinion, I asked the Yamaha man. “It’s ridiculous," he said, raising his eyes to the heavens. At the time I was slightly surprised he had been so open in his contempt; now it all makes sense.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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Comments

I don't think that JL's head is in the right place at the moment. It seems to me that Lorenzo needs all the bits in place to perform. For this reason I think he'll struggle at Ducati. I'd love to be wrong because seeing his flowing syle consistently winning in red would be good for MotoGP

Lorenzo's best days are behind him as long as the tires (from whatever brand) in the future perform like the Michelins.

I would or will not write Jorge off on the Ducati.  I watched people foolishly write Valentino off after Ducati and you see where that got them.  Apologizing, and making excuses.  Jorge is too good of a rider to dismiss.  This isn't the same Ducati when Rossi was there.  They have just gotten better and better with Gigi.  The ship has been righted, and the bike continually gets better and better.  Here is a rule, don't ever, ever,  write off multiple MotoGP World Champions, it's foolish.  I'd be the last one in the world surprised if Lorenzo crossed the line first @ Qatar.  Rossi proved to the world, in 2004, that this could happen.  For all we know, with that straight line speed of the Ducati, that's it is very possible Jorge could storm off with the 2017 championship.  Let's get through a few races, namely after 2-3 races back in Europe in 2017, before we start making an opinion.  That will be. oddly enough, next June, and that round will be Mugello.  The circuit on the calendar, Ducati's native Italy, and the circuit where Jorge could put a dagger in his critics and foes.  

 

Front tires, Michelins, the GP17, meh, Gigi and Jorge have history together, championship history.  

He could very well fail, but in 2016, no journalist, or fan, knows anything yet.  

People used to say VR's best days were behind him too, and then look what happened. Me, I'm keeping an open mind, won't be surprised however it pans out.

The good thing here is that there are at least four genuine contenders for the title next year on at least three marques. That's quite a shift from how it was s few years back when it was, realistically, two plus two.

Lorenzo on Ducati is of the utmost interest. Jorge is an amazing rider. I just re-watched some old battles (last night focused on 2013), he really impresses. I emulate his style on my bike, it is elegant.

If there is any bike that best suits his style it is the Yamaha. But he has never been on anything else after the 250GP, so how can we know really? He adapted to MotoGP really well after his gold helmet high siding stint. He has adapted to the Michelins better than I had anticipated.

Now, with THIS bike, he needs consistent edge grip confidence to thrive. He and the Yamaha DO seem to have run their course a bit. We are seeing Honda coming out of their self inflicted two years of struggle and can expect a strong 2017 bike. With MM93 on it. I think Lorenzo is making a good move at a good time. But this does not mean that I have confidence in the outcome, it could really go either way.

I am excited about what Yamaha can do in developing a bike suited to a more dynamic rider. I have lots of confidence in Yamaha and Vinales. I see Vinales as a better natural fit for the Ducati than Lorenzo, and for 2017 to be characterized by Vinales - Marquez battles.

BUT let's wait and see what Ducati can do developing their bike towards Lorenzo and slalom carving, as well as how Lorenzo can do taking advantage of the Ducati package. He can push himself to learn to block under braking and grab drive power out of a corner. Perhaps the Ducati can gain further mid corner stability. Both are hungry and have plenty to offer, and can benefit from the synergistic adaptation to be a more "all around" performer. It could happen!

Everyone seems to be anticipating a fantastic 2017. Some won't end up seeing it that way, Ducati and Jorge may well be amongst them. What about you?

Lorenzo has won on the old Michelins so it is not impossible for him to adapt to the tyre concept the firm uses.