Reigning MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo will probably weigh-up a contract offer from Ducati before deciding whether to join Valentino Rossi in re-signing for Yamaha.
That is the opinion of Yamaha racing managing director Lin Jarvis, speaking in the Qatar paddock just hours after Rossi was announced as the factory's first 2017 rider.
Jarvis revealed that both Rossi and Lorenzo had received new two-year contract offers at the same time - but while Rossi immediately signed, Lorenzo is yet to decide.
“[Lorenzo's manager] has confirmed they have the offer from Yamaha and it is the best offer they have had in Jorge's racing career,” Jarvis said. “So we put our best efforts to put a very good contract on the table.
“Am I confident he will accept? You can never be confident because we are not alone. There are other competitors and Jorge is the current world champion and one of the fastest riders in the world. So for sure there will be other teams looking to attract his services.
“I sincerely hope he will decide to go on with us.”
Ducati have made several unsuccessful attempts to tempt Lorenzo from Yamaha in the past and Jarvis suspects they are again pursing Lorenzo.
The difference this time around is that the Desmosedici is now a far more attractive prospect, leading the way in the hands of Andrea Iannone after Friday practice for the Qatar season opener.
“My guess is that it would be Ducati, because Honda already have a top leading rider," Jarvis said. "Ducati have two very competitive riders, but from what I understand they are looking to take a 'top gun' one of the top four, in order to take their programme to another level. So I expect it is Ducati.”
Jarvis also confirmed that Lorenzo has a deadline to accept the Yamaha offer, but did not state when it is.
“From my experience with Jorge over many years he is always wants to try and evaluate and understand all of his possibilities, before making a commitment. He always wants to try stand 100% behind the decision he finally makes.
“So I believe he wants to evaluate: 'OK, I know what I have in Yamaha. I have a good experience here, a good crew, competitive bike and do I now continue for another two years at this important stage of [my] career or is now the moment to change?'”