"Jorge Lorenzo is a great person with a big heart who behaved like a true gentleman," were Alberto Puig's words after Jorge announced his retirement, which he himself knew of only a few days ago. The team manager was the one who planned Lorenzo's arrival in Honda and, today, he bore witness to his farewell to racing.
"In my career as a manager, I was able to work with many great riders, and Jorge was a true gentleman. It's not often that you meet a champion with certain qualities ," he said. "He impressed me with his fairness and his way of behaving with people next to him. He made a courageous decision. I respect it, but I'm also sad. I'm sorry we weren't able to succeed with him."
Was stopping the best decision?
"I don't know. It's not up to me to say. All I know is that both he and Honda tried everything to improve. From my point-of-view, I hope this was the best decision for him. Unfortunately, we didn't meet during the best moment of his career."
Lorenzo said he disappointed you.
"That's not true, nor is it for Honda. I know the Japanese well, and when I can't help a rider achieve certain goals, they get frustrated. The fact that Jorge stopped is not a liberation. Things between us didn't work, and we have to accept it. If anything, I'm worried because we lost another champion."
Do you think he will be able to return to racing, perhaps after a sabbatical year?
"Those are personal choices. Surely, he'll have plenty of time to think about it. I don't know what to answer. The only thing I want is for him to be happy."
Who will take Lorenzo's place?
"Frankly, I can't answer that. We are logically thinking about the future, but we have not yet made a decision about it."
Not even for next week's tests?
"This is absolutely not a problem. The important thing is that Marquez is able to try the new bike, nothing else. Logically, it would be better if other riders did too, but Stefan Bradl will probably join us."
For 2020, two names are constantly mentioned: Zarco and Alex Marquez.
"They're both on the list, as are other riders, but I don't want to mention names now. We had little time to think, and we're not in a hurry."
Is a team with the two Marquez brothers possible?
"Alex is on the list not because of his last name but because of the results he got. Being the world champion in the Moto2 is an option."