When celebrating his first Ducati victory at Mugello on Sunday, Jorge Lorenzo spoke of the importance of self-belief and determination to power through the difficult times.

"Now it is very easy to talk, but before was the tough part," he said. "Not so many people believed in Jorge Lorenzo when the results were not good.

"So to win in MotoGP after one and a half years and a lot of difficult moments, working harder and harder but the results still don't come, then a lot of criticism and people saying you can never win with this bike.

"This is an example of how with your mind and determination, proudness and never giving up, finally you can achieve it."

It is probably that same mental tenacity that has steered Lorenzo away from the easier option of a (satellite) Yamaha return to take on another Ducati-style challenge at Repsol Honda.

That means going head-to-head with reigning champion Marc Marquez, at a team centred around the four-time MotoGP champion, on a bike considered unrulier than the Ducati with which Lorenzo slogged for 23 races without a victory.

"We've won a few races this year, but the others can see that the Honda is not an easy bike and you must push a lot," title leader Marquez warned on Sunday, when asked to comment on the number of riders apparently turning down the chance to be his 2019 team-mate.

"I don't know how many crashes I saved this weekend. You must ride [the Honda] on the limit and that is difficult."

Yet Lorenzo - still the textbook example of Yamaha smoothness - looks to have accepted the daunting Honda challenge before Sunday's breakthrough victory, when his best result of the season was a mere sixth place.

That's self-belief, perhaps mixed with an element of the proudness he spoke about after his Mugello win, in turning down the safer opportunity of a Yamaha return.

Jorge Lorenzo

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But what would Lorenzo have proven if he went back to Yamaha anyway?

He's already won 44 races and three titles on an M1, the bike looks to have lost its way since he left and there isn’t even a satellite team in place for 2019 yet. Rossi rebuilt his career by returning to Yamaha from Ducati, but would he have chosen to do so if the only option was a satellite team?

Speaking of self-belief, it would be incredible if Marquez wasn't consulted on the identity of his team-mate - especially a rider as high profile as Lorenzo - and he clearly didn't veto the deal.

"I always say I want to have the strongest team-mate," Marquez declared at Mugello.

That will certainly be the case, with Lorenzo's record making him the strongest team-mate Marquez has ever faced in grand prix.

It'll be a new situation for the #93, but Lorenzo can call upon seven years of battle-hardened experience alongside Valentino Rossi.

The Marquez-Lorenzo partnership is also a significant coup for new Repsol Honda team manager Alberto Puig, who took over from Livio Suppo at the start of this year.

Doubts were raised over whether the Spaniard was the right man for the job, yet he has now put together a rider line-up that can boast every MotoGP title since Casey Stoner in 2011.

The last time a rider still on the grid beat Lorenzo or Marquez to the title was Valentino Rossi back in 2009.

The icing on the cake is that both are Spanish, meaning fewer objections from title sponsor Repsol about letting Pedrosa go.

Indeed, Marquez and Lorenzo are the most successful MotoGP riders Spain has ever produced and the outcome of the next two seasons will be pivotal in shaping their places in MotoGP history.

Marquez has the most to lose in that respect, having blown away all previous challengers on the same machine. But Lorenzo has less pressure and much more experience.

It'll be fascinating to watch…



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