After strong speculation linking Jorge Lorenzo to a test role at Yamaha, the retired five-time world champion has officially joined its test team for 2020.

Lorenzo made a dramatic call to quit racing at the 2019 MotoGP finale in Valencia just one season into his two-year deal at Repsol Honda, but insisted he would remain a familiar face inside the paddock. The Spanish rider was quickly linked to a test role at Yamaha, where he clinched his three premier class world titles, as Yamaha axed Jonas Folger from its test team.

The 32-year-old will make his official return to Yamaha duty at the Sepang shakedown test on February 2-4 riding the 2020-specifciaiton YZFR-M1 and will also take part in official and private tests for Yamaha this year.

Lorenzo will work with Valentino Rossi’s former crew chief Silvano Galbusera who joins Yamaha’s test team for 2020. Galbusera has been replaced by David Munoz as Rossi’s crew chief for 2020.

Yamaha also confirmed no wildcard outings are planned in 2020 for Lorenzo but the Iwata factory is “open to the possibility, should he decide to race again.”

Securing Lorenzo’s signature to become its MotoGP test rider completes a headline-grabbing three days for Yamaha after announcing Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo as its factory team riders for 2021 and 2022, while retaining Rossi as he takes time to decide on his racing future beyond the end of this year. If Rossi opts to continue racing he will have a full factory-spec Yamaha and crew for 2021.

The rapid run of agreements effectively secures all of Yamaha’s major rider spots for the immediate future and sees the Japanese manufacturer retain both its young stars in Vinales and Quartararo, its most experienced rider in Rossi while also reuniting with its most recent world champion in Lorenzo.

“Of course, we are delighted to welcome Jorge back at Yamaha. When we knew that Jorge would stop his active racing career, we immediately started to consider making a proposal for him to join us,” Lin Jarvis, managing director of Yamaha Motor Racing, said.

“The statistics of his achievements with us in those nine years together speak for themselves. He is a vastly experienced MotoGP rider, who is closely familiar with the M1 and the people at Yamaha. We have come to know Jorge as a very precise and motivated rider, with flawless consistency and good technical insight: all the qualities you need in a test rider at this high level.

“Combining Jorge’s experience, knowledge, and riding speed with experienced Crew Chief Silvano Galbusera is an important element in Yamaha‘s strategy to strengthen the Test Team, which aims to bridge the gap between the engineers and test riders in Japan and the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team.”

Since leaving Yamaha at the end of 2016, Lorenzo has endured a multitude of highs and lows. In his two years at Ducati he secured three wins but was dropped by the Italian manufacturer just when he appeared to be clicking with its bike.

Lorenzo then suffered a series of serious injuries which curtailed the end of his time at Ducati and also stalled his adaptation at Repsol Honda. After suffering fractured vertebrae in a nasty crash at Assen Lorenzo began to seriously consider his future in the sport.

At just 32, Lorenzo confirmed he would retire from racing after the final round of the 2019 MotoGP season and duly leave the factory Honda team after one season together.

Having spent the winter recovering from his various injuries Lorenzo is naturally delighted by the Yamaha test deal and is confident of overseeing Yamaha’s 2020 developments in its bid to battle for its first MotoGP world title since winning with Lorenzo back in 2015.

“I’m very happy with the decision to join the Yamaha Factory Test Team,” Lorenzo said. “I was always planning on staying involved in MotoGP and returning to the paddock, and I think this is a suitable role for me. I know the team and the M1 well. The Yamaha really suited my riding style, and it will be very interesting to ‘meet up with my old bike again’

“Returning to Yamaha brings with it some good memories. We secured many podiums and victories, and three titles together, so we know where our strengths lie. I want to thank Yamaha for this opportunity, because this allows me to do what I love – riding motorbikes and pushing the limit – whilst enjoying a slightly calmer lifestyle than I did in previous years.

“I’m very motivated to get to work and can’t wait to start riding. I want to do my best for Yamaha’s future, and I hope my riding experience will be helpful to Yamaha’s engineers and riders to bring the title back to Yamaha.”

 

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