Had everything gone to plan, Jorge Lorenzo would have spent the recent Sepang test preparing for his second MotoGP season at Repsol Honda.

Instead, the five-time world champion made his debut as a Yamaha test rider, giving his feedback on the M1 and offering assistance to race riders Maverick Vinales, Valentino Rossi, Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli.

An agreement to return to the factory where he had enjoyed his greatest success was made shortly after Lorenzo announced his retirement at last November's Valencia finale.

If the rumours are true, the #99 might even race an M1 later this year, as a wild-card at his home round in Barcelona.

HRC could have barred Lorenzo from any such test or wild-card activities until the end of 2020 in return for ripping up the second year of his contract and the 32-year-old thanked Repsol Honda team manager Alberto Puig for choosing not to do.

"I have to say Alberto was always very smart and always very loyal. I always got good support in the year I spent in Honda," Lorenzo said. "I’m very grateful they didn’t put any clause to stop me to riding another bike this year. They could have done, but they didn’t.

"For that reason I can work in this role [at Yamaha]. I didn’t receive any call from Alberto [about it] but I’ll always appreciate his help in 2019 and for not putting this clause after breaking my contract with Honda for 2020."

Puig insisted there were no hard feelings from Honda over Lorenzo's sudden switch to Yamaha.

"We had a two-year contract, but when the rider comes to us and says he wants to stop, that he wants to take care of his physical condition because he didn't want to hurt himself anymore, that he didn't find the motivation to ride his bike because he cannot find the feeling. Of course, we can only say 'okay, if you really want to stop, then stop'," Puig said.

"I am happy because Honda did what was 100% correct. He told us he was not ready [to ride] and we respected him. Honda will never push a guy to go on a bike at 300km/h if he doesn't want to. This is 100% clear.

"We know that during the period of time that Jorge was with us Honda tried maximum. Maybe the maximum was not enough for him, clearly. I mean we didn’t match his expectations, but we are happy because all the engineers, all the people in Japan, the staff here, the team, even myself, we tried our best. It didn’t happen, but we tried.

"Then when he said [that he wanted to stop], we were happy with how it ended up, he was grateful to us and the way he stopped was in a correct way.

"In Valencia it was his clear intention to stop. That's why he made an official retirement. Then, for whatever reason, he decided to continue.

"What we have to say from a Honda point of view is that every person is free to do what he wants with his life. And we respect it. If after some months he decided to change [his mind] and he had this opportunity [with Yamaha] we are happy for him.

"We are not going to interfere in that. I think every person has his own life and you have to respect it. And this is our position.

"So if he decided this, Honda respects it and we hope he's happy in his life."

Lorenzo said that while he had initially planned to make a complete retirement from MotoGP, he had enjoyed his return to the M1.

"My first idea when I retired was to retire completely. I think I spent 18 years of my life fully committed to winning and competing and working really hard to get my mission. Now I’m in a different stage of my life," he said.

"But I have to say I enjoyed a lot riding the Yamaha. I felt again the happiness I didn’t feel for a long time. Maybe the last time I felt a professional happiness was when I won three in four races [for Ducati] in 2018.

"Unfortunately, with injuries and bad results I couldn’t feel the same in this last year and half [at Repsol Honda]. But the last three days were very happy for me. If I said in Valencia there was a 99% chance I don’t come back [full time], now it can be 98%!"

Yamaha Racing managing director Lin Jarvis said that a wild-card appearance is "optional for Jorge and for us. If he feels he’d like to do it, and if we have the capacity to do it, then we’ll do it.

"His contract is to develop the bike. We are more likely to select a GP where it makes good sense for us to do the wild-card and then do a test, rather than just pick a race out of the blue.

"It’s a matter we’ll discuss together. Jorge needs to feel comfortable that he’ll be up to racing speeds. But why not?"

After riding a 2019-spec M1 on the last day of both the Shakedown and Official Sepang test, Lorenzo was 21st fastest, but only 1.348s behind Quartararo.

 

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