On Thursday Jorge Lorenzo was in little doubt. Retirement is not an option for the 32-year old, who confidently proclaimed he would remain in the MotoGP class “for the next two years” despite potentially losing his place at Ducati.

The Majorcan – five times a world champion – was exceedingly confident of his chances of securing “a good bike” for 2019, even though the options on the current grid are extremely limited.

On Thursday the hot rumour was the Sepang International Circuit was prepared to take over the grid places currently owned by Marc VDS. A new team would then be set up, with Lorenzo earmarked as the lead rider. We, he insisted, would know more in two weeks’ time at his ‘home’ grand prix outside Barcelona.

“What I just can say, which I said to the Spanish media, is that I will continue for the next two years,” he teased. “I will not retire. And I will be with a good bike. This is the only thing I can say. I guess in Montmeló you will have more information.”

MotoGP 2019 - Stay or Go?

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A spokesman for Yamaha told Crash.net the factory is awaiting patiently to see the outcome of the current Marc VDS situation.

The Japanese factory was on the cusp of securing a deal with the satellite squad for 2019 and beyond before a fallout between team owner Marc van der Straten and team boss Michael Bartholemy spilled over, resulting in the latter’s separation from the squad.

While the Yamaha spokesman was surprised to learn of Lorenzo’s confidence at securing a place on the ’19 grid, they admitted it was possible he could return to compete for the factory with whom he won three premier class titles, albeit in a satellite outfit.

The factory has a deadline for the end of June to understand whether it will supply satellite machines for 2019. Whether it will supply 2019-spec machines depends on the money the satellite squad is willing to spend.

Lorenzo had struggled for physical strength during the last outing in France, saying the braking power and style needed on Ducati’s GP18 was unique, and fairly alien to his way of riding.

The Majorcan tested at the Circuit of Catalunya between Le Mans and Ducati’s crucial home outing at Montmeló, where he posted the third fastest time after a full morning and afternoon of action.

Asked about the test, Lorenzo said, “Well, unfortunately in Barcelona we just prepared something slightly different but not really big. I didn’t feel much better – a little bit, maybe around one percent.

“Here, instead we have the time to prepare one really different kind of fuel tank to support more the rider in braking. I have a lot of hope for it to work tomorrow so it will be important to test it. The aerodynamics are slightly different. It could be good for some tracks, yeah.”

Ducati Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti told Crash.net at Le Mans that factory bosses would meet with Lorenzo and his representatives after the Italian Grand Prix to finalise his future. If it appeared he was unable to fight for “race wins and podiums” Ducati felt “there is no point to continue.”

So does this race weekend carry greater heft and pressure for the three-time MotoGP world champion?

“This race is important as the previous four or five for my future,” Lorenzo said. “It’s not more important. Obviously I still want to make the best with this bike. Here it’s important for the team and for the fans. It’s a good track for the bike and also for my riding. I will try my best. But for my future… it’s not so important.”

 

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