Jorge Lorenzo announced his retirement on November 12th, 2019. The flashy Spanish rider has been one of the most consistent MotoGP racers of the last decade, but his 2019 season move to the Repsol Honda team fell completely flat. Lorenzo would blame his poor performance on nagging injuries. In truth, even before his MotoGP accidents he was already having an abysmal year on the Honda. His retirement announcement might be real, but I have a feeling it’s only temporary. Lorenzo could be back riding a MotoGP motorcycle again sooner than you think, and here’s why.
Time with Yamaha
Lorenzo was a “top guy” in the MotoGP world when he was with Yamaha. During this time, he won 41 premier class races, and had a total of 99 premier class podium finishes.
- 2008: First year in MotoGP. Riding Yamaha. Finished 4th.
- 2009: Riding Yamaha. Finished 2nd.
- 2010: Riding Yamaha. Won the MotoGP World championship.
- 2011: Riding Yamaha. Finished 2nd.
- 2012: Riding Yamaha. Won the MotoGP World championship.
- 2013: Riding Yamaha. Finished 2nd.
- 2014: Riding Yamaha. Finished 3rd.
- 2015: Riding Yamaha. Won the MotoGP World championship.
- 2016: Riding Yamaha. Finished 3rd.
The move to Ducati
According to Lin Jarvis, the Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing, Lorenzo left due to ego. Lorenzo knew that as long as he stayed on Yamaha’s factory team, he would be second to the people’s champion, Valentino Rossi. So Lorenzo left his comfort and history of success with Yamaha to be the number one guy on Ducati’s team.
At the time, Ducati’s motorcycle was the height of raw power in MotoGP, but Lorenzo was no longer as dominant as he used to be.
- 2017: Riding Ducati. Finished 7th.
- 2018: Riding Ducati. Finished 9th.
By 2018, Lorenzo’s second and final season with Ducati he did manage to win three races, and be on the podium four times, but one thing had become painfully obvious: even with the power of the Ducati under him, Lorenzo was still no match for fellow Spanish rider Marc Marquez (Team Honda Repsol).
The move to Honda
Lorenzo’s failure to best his rival triggered his ego once again. He let Honda, Ducati, and anyone who would listen to him know, that if he was on the same bike as Marc Marquez, he could do just as well as the world champion. Lorenzo had decided that the Ducati was no longer good enough for him. Big talk for a man who seemed to be wanting to point fingers anywhere but in the mirror. Picking up your bag and shipping out to the next team when things aren’t working out had become Jorge’s Way.
Unfortunately for Lorenzo, his ego-driven decisions seem to always lead him wrong. This time, it was much worse than when he left Yamaha for Ducati. On the Honda, Lorenzo finished 19th overall, his absolute worst MotoGP ever. He made only 28 points, compared to teammate Marquez’s 420 points. Lorenzo’s best finish was 11th place, making him not competitive in a single race all season. It was a complete disaster.
Confrontation and speculation
The Honda, by all accounts, is not an easy bike to ride. It was developed for Marquez, and early on in the season Lorenzo was so frustrated with his lack of comfort with it that he flew to Japan to vent his frustrations. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t seem to help as the second leg of his 2019 season only got worse.
The confrontation, and lack of results, set fire to a rush of rumors about Lorenzo’s future with Honda. Big wigs and riders at both the factory Honda and Ducati teams had the media shoving microphones in their face asking for a comment on Lorenzo potentially being dropped by Honda and returning to Ducati or Yamaha. Honda said they would ride out the second year of Lorenzo’s two year contract in 2020, and Lorenzo proclaimed his commitment to the team with lackluster enthusiasm.
How do you get out of a contract you don’t want to be in when your boss won’t let you go?
That’s easy. You retire. Picking up your ball and going to play somewhere else is textbook Lorenzo. He’s already done it twice before. It’s not hard to imagine, based on his position on a bike that’s embarrassing him weekly, that he’s up to his same old habits.
This time, Jorge’s excuse for leaving a team uh, I mean, “retirement” is due to injuries. He claims he’s no longer enjoying racing, despite how much he still wants to win. But the truth is, even before his accidents this season he was still lame on the Honda. Is it really the injuries that are slowing him down? I don’t think so.
Prediction: Lorenzo’s biggest injury will be healed by 2021
By announcing his retirement, Lorenzo gets out of service the second (and final) year of his contract with Honda. He can spend that time at home looking after his health. Many believe that Lorenzo will make a full recovery from his undisclosed injuries (the biggest of which is a bruised ego), right around the time that his contract with Honda expires. That means we could see him as a free agent, ready to be signed by a team and on a MotoGP starting grid for the 2021 season. I’d put money on it. Why? Because it’s happened before.
It’s happened before
Lorenzo wouldn’t be the first MotoGP racer of the modern era to get fed up and butt-hurt and leave MotoGP only to come back later. Before Jorge Lorenzo, there was another disgruntled MotoGP racer who claimed he no longer enjoyed competing, lamented being under-appreciated, and complained about not being a fan-favorite (does any of this sound familiar?). His name was Casey Stoner and he “retired” from MotoGP in 2011, only to come back three years later.
Jorge Lorenzo has a history of quitting on his team like a bratty teenager “rage-quits” on Xbox Live, so it’s not hard to imagine his retirement can just be a way to save face from his embarassing performance on a Honda he can’t handle. All he has to do to get out of being the laughingstock of MotoGP is sit out one year to stay at home and nurse his little ego “injuries.” He’ll be telling everyone how healthy he feels and how he can’t wait to return to racing the minute that contract is up. You can believe it, or not, I won’t lose any sleep over it… but I’ve made a few predictions that have been known to be right in the past…