Let’s say you are in your 20s and you ride motorcycles for a living … and making $10 million a year is something you have already accomplished. Where do you go from here?
The two biggest names in MotoGP racing (leaving aside Valentino Rossi, who has already signed a two-year contract extension with Yamaha) are up for grabs next year. That’s right, Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo need work. Apparently, their current employers Honda and Yamaha would like to retain their services, but at least one other major factory team may have the budget necessary to put one of them on its payroll. That would be Ducati.
At their salary level (and, let’s not forget bonuses for race wins and championship wins which can be in the millions in total), Ducati may be the only serious suitor who could draw Lorenzo or Marquez away from their current employers. Rumors of Lorenzo negotiating with Ducati, and even being close to signing, have already been circulating for months. Marquez has said he would like to stay with Repsol Honda, but it is believed that he has not signed a new contract at this point. Ducati’s MotoGP management has sent some signals recently that they are looking at both Lorenzo and Marquez for 2017.
Of course, many MotoGP riders are unsigned for next year. Marquez and Lorenzo are just the “sure things” … proven race winners and championship winners. They are both still young – Marquez is 23 and Lorenzo just turned 29. Several years left in their “prime”. For reference, Valentino Rossi is still going strong at 37.
The other unsigned rider of interest actually playing into the Marquez/Lorenzo drama, to some extent, is 21-year-old Maverick Viñales. His current employer is Suzuki, of course, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see that change next year. He is so young, and so talented, that he could easily slot into a Movistar Yamaha or Repsol Honda ride next year. This could take the sting out of losing Marquez or Lorenzo. Both factories would undoubtedly love to have Viñales aboard, because he could immediately take podiums on a good bike (he nearly did so on his Suzuki last weekend) and is seen as a future champion. It will be interesting watching for announcements of the signing of these three riders.
See more of MD’s great photography: