PARIS (AFP) - Honda unleashed a thunderbolt in the MotoGP paddock on Wednesday (June 6), when they announced that three-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo would be joining them in place of another Spanish star, Dani Pedrosa.
"Honda Racing Corporation is pleased to announce the signing of three-time MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo," the team said in a press statement. "The Spanish rider will join the Repsol Honda Team for the next two years."
Lorenzo will form an impressive duo with a third Spaniard, Marc Marquez. Pedrosa revealed on Tuesday that he was leaving Honda.
"From 2019, Lorenzo will become team-mate to four-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez: two great champions with great talent and high hopes that will make a stronger team and contribute to the development of HRC," the team said.
Media reports say Lorenzo's Honda contract is worth €4 million (S$6.3 million) a season.
Lorenzo enjoyed great success in a decade with another Japanese team, Yamaha, winning 44 races and was world champion in 2010, 2012 and 2015.
The 31-year-old has been less triumphant since moving to Ducati at the start of last season. His victory at Mugello on Sunday was his first for the Italian team in 24 races and came amid rumours that Ducati were thinking of discarding him.
Lorenzo is only 10th in the MotoGP standings after six races, 54 points behind leader Marquez. Pedrosa is 12th, 12 points further back.
Pedrosa, who is 32, has won 31 Grands Prix and finished championship runner-up three times.
Ducati immediately announced that Danilo Petrucci would replace Lorenzo.
The 27-year-old has raced for the satellite Pramac Racing team since the 2015 season and will partner fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso at Ducati for 2019 on what is currently a one-year agreement.
"It goes without saying that for me, being part of the factory team is a dream come true," said Petrucci.
"It's a great honour to become an official rider for the Ducati Team, especially for someone like me who started in Ducati as a production motorcycle test rider."
Meanwhile, the Tech 3 team announced that it was extending the contract of 24-year-old Malaysian rider Hafizh Syahrin, who is 16th in the standings, for a season.