After spending 24-years in the grand prix paddock, there are not many rumours that come as a surprise to Valentino Rossi.

But even the Italian was caught off-guard by speculation that triple MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo could quit Repsol Honda after just one season and make a shock return to Ducati via Jack Miller's place at the Pramac team.

Miller himself now believes it is more than just pure gossip. "After some feedback I heard, for sure there's some truth behind the rumours," said the Australian.

So what does Rossi, who was team-mate to Lorenzo at Yamaha from 2008-2010 and again from 2013-16, make of it all?

"For sure it's a surprise for everybody to hear about the Ducati," Rossi said.

"If you look at the results, it has some sense because Jorge has a lot of problems with the Honda and looks like last year he was strong with the Ducati. He some crashes, bad luck or injuries but he arrived at a good speed. So from this point of view it makes sense. But I don’t know if it's true.

"Anyway, Lorenzo is in factory Honda and I think he can ride this bike in some way, maybe he has to modify something and I think he was also very very unlucky because especially the first injury with a flat track bike before the first test was a disaster for him, because he arrived already injured and that moment of the season is crucial because you can have six days for ride the bike without the pressure of a race weekend.

"So he missed [the Sepang test] and after that, when you arrive at the race weekends, everything is more difficult because you don’t have time, you have to push. Then every time he did some mistake he crashed and was injured more, so it's a difficult situation at this moment.

"But he is in the factory Honda team and with a bit more time a bit more luck he can be competitive."

Lorenzo, yet to take a top ten finish for Repsol Honda, has been absent since Assen due to fractures of his vertebrae but hopes to return next time at Silverstone.