Jorge Lorenzo might only be one month into his MotoGP retirement but focus on his future is already dominating the next pivotal move within the paddock.

Earlier this week, Lorenzo confirmed he “will definitely be in the paddock again” speaking on Red Bull’s ServusTV with an announcement expected in early 2020 when he is officially out of his HRC contract on December 31st.

The immediate options open to the five-time world champion would be test riding, TV punditry work and rider management – or a combination of those options – with reports linking Lorenzo to a Yamaha test rider role, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Given Lorenzo’s record with Yamaha, three premier class world titles and 44 Grand Prix wins across nine years, the Spaniard fits the bill and during the team bosses’ press conference at the Valencia MotoGP Yamaha Racing managing director Lin Jarvis didn’t rule out a “non-Japanese test rider” after altering its test group plans for 2020.

After ending its partnership with Jonas Folger, Yamaha had shown an interest in signing Johann Zarco as test rider for 2020 but the two-time Moto2 world champion has given preference to continue racing and duly joined Avintia Ducati.

Currently Yamaha’s test riders Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Kohta Nozane are lined up to test in both Japan and at Grand Prix tracks in Europe. But with Lorenzo available from 2020 it would seem a logical fit if being “in the paddock” included a test rider role.

“Looking at our experiences we decided for our own reasons that we would not run with Jonas Folger for next year because we didn’t have the consensus amongst everyone in the group that it was the right situation for us,” Jarvis said in Valencia.

“It is not said that we will not have a non-Japanese test rider. It is said that it just won’t be Folger.

“I would say just wait, we will look around and we will see. We need a fast rider. We need somebody that can give us the accurate feedback that can bridge that gap between the Japanese testing group and the next level.

“We didn’t fix the plan, the only plan that is fixed is our testing programme. We know that we are going use the bikes and team that will move around the world to do the tests. Hopefully we’ll have an even faster rider soon.”

Jarvis also explained the reasons behind Yamaha’s test programme changes for 2020 with fundamentals on feedback differing between its European-based test team and its Japanese-based operations.

“Next year is a very important year for us for developing certain technologies, especially in the engine,” Jarvis explained with Yamaha hunting vital top speed and traction gains. “One of the problems we found last year was the way we did our testing in Europe was different to the way they did it in Japan.

“So, it was difficult to compare the same information, the same feedback and interpretation because you had different ways of working and different ways to approach it.

“We decided to use the same test team, the Japanese team, they will do the European testing as well. It is a testing team that will travel to European circuits and also work at circuits in Japan.

“We decided in Sepang after our final planning [for the MotoGP test team] what should we do for the other test rider, the non-Japanese test rider.”

Following Lorenzo’s announcement that he would retire from racing, Jarvis paid tribute to his former rider and gave fond memories with the Spaniard securing Yamaha’s most recent MotoGP world titles (2010, 2012 and 2015).

“Obviously we have a really special relationship with Jorge because we were together for nine years, which was extraordinary, very unusual I think for a brand to have nine years of uninterrupted contract with a rider,” he said.

“He joined us when he was very, very young by showing his talent and his promise [in 250cc]. Then he arrived [in MotoGP] with a bang, got three pole positions and won his third race with us and went on to win three world championships.”

If Lorenzo is to return to Yamaha in a testing capacity, it would mark the second consecutive year HRC has seen a rider leave and become a test rider at a rival manufacturer in MotoGP following Dani Pedrosa’s move to KTM last winter.

Reports have also linked Lorenzo to TV work in MotoGP which would make him the first former premier class world champion to be a regular TV pundit since Alex Criville.

 

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