Motorcycle racing icon Valentino Rossi expects current Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo to remain competitive when he moves to Ducati at the end of the current MotoGP season.
Three-time MotoGP champion Lorenzo confirmed on Monday that he would be switching from Yamaha to Ducati for 2017, signing a two-year deal and ending his long-running association with the Japanese manufacturer.
Rossi made an identical move back in 2011, but spent two ill-fated years with Ducati that yielded just three podium finishes before he rejoined Yamaha for 2013.
“Difficult to say for me, but more or less the same,” Rossi said when asked about the similarities between his move and Lorenzo’s.
“Different moment in terms of time because I’m older but it’s similar in terms of moment in our careers.
“Looks like that the Ducati in the last two years has improved a lot and is a competitive bike, it’s for sure very different to Yamaha.
“I know the skills of Lorenzo to ride and I think that he will be competitive with Ducati.”
Ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, Lorenzo explained the rationale behind his decision to leave Yamaha.
“I think there are many reasons, but the biggest one has been my motivation,” Lorenzo said.
“The challenge to try and win with another bike and the challenge for me after so many years in the world championship, in MotoGP, to give my maximum effort everyday as I always try to do, because I think I am one of the most professional riders and my focus is 100%.
“I needed, I felt I needed this new challenge to get the motivation to work as hard as I did till now. This is the main reason.”