Valentino Rossi admits he was taken by surprise following confirmation that Honda had signed Jorge Lorenzo as a replacement for Dani Pedrosa.

Lorenzo will leave Ducati at the end of this season to team up with Marc Marquez in the Repsol team for 2019.

The announcement stunned the MotoGP paddock, with few expecting Lorenzo to consider the Honda a match for his smooth riding style.

Rossi said: “A little (surprised), yes, because there were no rumours around. They are very good, both sides, to keep the secret and essentially I was not sure that (Dani) Pedrosa would continue with Repsol Honda but it was just one idea and I did not expect Lorenzo in the Repsol, so it was a surprise.”

Britain’s Cal Crutchlow had been mooted as a possible future Repsol Honda rider but the LCR flag-bearer said the manufacturer had ‘played a very good card’ in signing Lorenzo.

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“I think Honda have played a very good card there because they have taken on a great champion and a guy with a lot of speed, but I’m the same as probably everyone else in the paddock: the riders, the media and the fans, I’m as interested as anyone to see if he will be able to adapt to the style of the Honda,” Crutchlow said.

“As Marc said, it will be great to have another guy in Honda who has ridden another manufacturer of bike because for the last four years all the guys in Honda were always Honda riders, except me.

“So to get some more information from someone who has ridden the same as me, from Yamaha and the Ducati, he will be able to bring some input to the table and hopefully make Honda faster over the season.”

Asked if he had any advice for Lorenzo, he added: “He’s a champion, he’ll figure it out himself.”

Reigning champion Marc Marquez said Dani Pedrosa’s departure would bring about a big change in the team, although he feels he will be able to learn some new things from Lorenzo.

“It will be a big change inside Honda with another team-mate, another riding style. I learned many things from Dani when I came here in 2013 – he was riding the Honda so good and I learned many things from him,” he said.

“Now, Honda decides to change my team-mate and Jorge is another strong team-mate. It will be in the future but for sure we will try to learn many things from him because he has a completely different riding style.”

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