The biggest piece of the MotoGP rider puzzle fell into place this morning with the announcement from Yamaha that it had signed 2010 World Champion Jorge Lorenzo to a contract extension for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
The move ends any speculation that Lorenzo would move to Honda to replace the retiring Casey Stoner at the end of the season.
"I am extremely happy to have signed with Yamaha for two more years," Lorenzo said in a statement from Yamaha. "They've made great efforts to retain me in the factory team so I want to thank all those involved at Yamaha for this. I've been treated like part of the Yamaha family since 2008 and I love working with them. It has always been my first option to stay here and so I'm happy that this important negotiation has finished with such a positive outcome. Now I can focus on the championship and I'm looking forward to paying back Yamaha's trust in me starting at Silverstone this weekend. I look forward to winning many more championships together. My dream to finish my career with Yamaha is now closer to becoming a reality!"
Lorenzo, who is currently leading the 2012 MotoGP World Championship, has been with Yamaha since 2008. The Spaniard finished fourth in the championship in his rookie season in '08, was second in 2009 and then won the title for Yamaha in 2010. Last year he finished second to Stoner and this year he's leading the title chase by 20 points on the eve of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone this weekend. Lorenzo has won three of the first five races of the 18-round series.
"This is excellent news for Yamaha and for the Yamaha Factory Racing Team," said Lin Jarvis, Yamaha Motor Racing's managing director. "Jorge has been with us since 2008 and achieved superb results in the first four years, the highlight being his World Championship victory in 2010. He's currently on top form having won three of the first five GP races and finishing second in the other two. Jorge's contract extension allows both him and Yamaha to concentrate 100 percent on this year's championship challenge without any distractions and also to make future plans together to further strengthen the winning partnership."
The 25-year-old Lorenzo, who won two 250cc World Championship prior to arriving in MotoGP, has 41 total Grand Prix victories - 20 in MotoGP, 17 in 250cc GP and four in 125cc GP.