MOTEGI, JAPAN, OCT 2 – Jorge Lorenzo will stay with Yamaha for two more years, the factory confirmed on Saturday morning in Motegi, in yet another example of a signing that was a mere formality.Once Valentino Rossi decided to move to Ducati, and Casey Stoner to Honda, it was clear that Lorenzo would stay where he’s been the past three years, and now through the 2012 season. The 23-year-old Majorcan will partner with Ben Spies on the official Yamaha factory squad.Lorenzo is having a breakthrough year, with a class-leading seven race wins and a firm grip on the MotoGP World Championship. When Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa suffered a compound fracture to his left collarbone in Friday morning practice, Lorenzo was virtually assured the 2010 MotoGP title. Pedrosa will not return for next week’s race in Malaysia, so that if Lorenzo can finish second or better here in Japan, the title would officially be his as soon as Pedrosa failed to show up for qualifying in Sepang. Lorenzo leads Pedrosa by 56 points and would need 75 points leaving Malaysia to take the title back to Spain for the first time since Alex Criville, the only other Spaniard to win the premier class title, won it in 1999.The holdup in signing Lorenzo may have been down to sponsorship. Italian car manufacturer Fiat will be leaving the team at the end of the season and any number of companies have been rumored as replacements. Among them is Spanish telecom giant Telefonica. There was also the possibility that Lorenzo might bring a sponsor, in which case the financial details would have to be worked out to his liking.As it stands, Yamaha doesn’t have a sponsor and one wasn’t mentioned in the press release touting Lorenzo’s signing.”Jorge will be joined by Ben Spies in the factory team next year and with these two exceptionally talented hungry young riders we will start the 2011 season with the most exciting and competitive team in the paddock,” managing director of Yamaha Motor Racing Lin Jarvis said in a team release.Said Lorenzo, “My first choice was always to stay here with Yamaha and I am very glad that this will happen. I feel happy here; I have good people around me, a strong relationship with Yamaha and a great bike. I want to say thanks again to Lin Jarvis, who has always supported me. Now we are focused on winning the championship but I am already excited about next season. I know that Ben and I can do a great job for Yamaha and I want to thank them for their belief in me.”
Lorenzo and Spies in 2011
Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor
Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.