Ducati's Davide Tardozzi has poured cold water on the claim that Ducati has already offered reigning MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo a contract for 2017, but admitted “everybody will speak to everybody” ahead of perhaps the craziest 'silly season' in years.
The contracts of all ten factory MotoGP riders will expire at the close of 2016, bar Maverick Viñales, who has an 'option' with Suzuki for another year, and although Lorenzo has repeatedly stated his desire to stay with Yamaha beyond the close of his current two-year deal, rumours have continued to link him to Ducati.
Yet the factory team's coordinator Tardozzi told Crash.net
that he was “pissed” at a report that stated the Majorcan had already been offered a deal.
“We are not talking [about] too many rumours too early because some journalist has to write something. Not you but someone! We were pissed about the news that we made an offer to Lorenzo, because it's not true.”
While stating that an offer has yet to be tabled, Tardozzi also said “it's stupid to say we are not interested in Marquez, or Lorenzo, whoever, because they are top riders,” before assuring us that “everybody will speak with everybody” as riders search for an appropriate seat for the following year.
However, more than looking at riders beyond his own stable for 2016, Tardozzi insisted it is Ducati's priority to ensure the new Desmosedici GP is as competitive as possible from the first round, "to show the potential of the bike", and for riders Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso to showcase theirs.
“In this moment no [we are not speaking with other riders], because we are concentrating on doing good things. We don't want to have any rumors around. We are happy about our riders. We think that our riders can be even better than before. But if in the future it will be someone of the other top... I mean, it's stupid to say we are not interested in Marquez, Lorenzo, whoever, because they are top riders.
“Again we are happy about our rider but we will see what the future will propose. We hope that our riders would like to stay with us, but I guess that everybody will speak with everybody. That's normal. It's stupid to be blind to this. It's obvious that it will be like this. But again, for sure we start to talk with nobody.
“I think that as we said with our riders we would like to take some races to show what is the potential of the bike. For both us and them. We show them what we are able to do with the bike; they show us what they will do with our bike. Then we can start to talk.”
Lorenzo has long been linked to the Italian factory, with Casey Stoner citing Ducati's attempts to sign the Majorcan in 2009 as one of the reasons he left for Honda at the close of the following year.
At his Movistar Yamaha team's presentation in February, Lorenzo had reiterated his desire to stay with the factory with whom he has one three premier class titles.
Speaking to the press in February, he commented, “My experience in the last two years demonstrated to me that if I know what is going to happen in my future, I can ride it a little bit better. It's not a thing I have in my mind consciously, but unconsciously it can affect a little bit my riding. But to be honest, I'm not in a hurry, I can wait some races, I can wait until the middle of the year.”
Asked in Qatar whether there had been further developments with his contract situation, Lorenzo said, “No, for the moment we are in the same situation.”