Yamaha has announced that it will retain Jorge Lorenzo for at least the next two seasons, having finally concluded a new deal with the MotoGP championship leader.
Lorenzo had always been expected to stay with Yamaha, particularly once Valentino Rossi completed his Ducati switch and Honda signed Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner. Now Lorenzo has committed to staying at Yamaha until at least the end of the 2012 championship, alongside a new team-mate in Ben Spies.
"My first choice was always to stay here with Yamaha and I am very glad that this will happen," said Lorenzo. "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 [Yamaha racing boss] 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."
Jarvis added: "We are extremely happy that we have reached an agreement with Jorge to remain a Factory Yamaha rider for 2011 and 2012. Since he joined three years ago he has made great progress and has improved himself every year to go from fourth place and 'best rookie' in 2008, to second place in 2009, to challenging for the MotoGP championship title in 2010.
"I am particularly pleased to finally get the agreement in place here in Japan because it will now enable Jorge to focus all of his efforts and concentration in the coming weeks to try to secure his first MotoGP class rider's title. Being only 23 years old I believe Jorge has a long career ahead of him and hopefully he can win many world titles with Yamaha."
Lorenzo has spent his whole MotoGP career to date with Yamaha, joining the team in 2008 after winning the previous two 250cc titles. He took pole position on his debut, but only finished fourth in the standings after an incident-packed first year. He calmed his style for 2009 and pushed Rossi hard for the championship, then established himself in the points lead this year even before Rossi sustained his broken leg.
Since then, Lorenzo has dominated the season, leading the standings by 56 points at present. With his last remaining title rival Dani Pedrosa having been injured in a practice crash at Motegi yesterday, Lorenzo is now all but certain to win this year's championship.