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GP Week : Issue 60
>>Moto GPFEATURE DoUBLE DIPPERS Switching horses has produced mixed results in MotoGP history. MICHAEL SCOTT investigates One of the biggest Who-GoesWhere upsets in racing history is in full swing. With a question mark over Casey Stoner’s return, Ducati has put a multi-million dollar deal on the table to tempt Jorge Lorenzo (left) from Yamaha. Everyone is waiting for the other boot to drop. And to see if this brilliant new talent will change horses in mid-stream. Jorge may or may not be studying racing history for precedent, as he ponders the options. If he does, he will find that he would be joining a small but elite group, including some of the greatest names in racing. One of them still active. Valentino Rossi made the switch himself, from the all-conquering Honda to then-underdog Yamaha. His classic win in his first Yamaha year of 2004 made it a little more historic: he became only the second rider in the premier class to win titles back to back, on different makes of motorcycle. His predecessor in this was Eddie Lawson, the Californian four-times champion between 1984 and 1989; and Steady Eddie’s defection from Yamaha to Honda to win the last one caused as much sensation at the time as Lorenzo’s does now. Especially since Eddie himself had kept absolutely silent about it. His shock switch stunned everyone in racing, especially Yamaha, because the week before he had visited the factory race department for a first look at the bike he was supposedly riding the following year. There are a lot of similarities between the two, at least in the way they ride, though Lawson crashed very seldom, and Lorenzo does so rather too often. It’s the consistency that matches up: lap after lap within tenths and even hundredths of one another. The other two to win the championship on different bikes were also very big names. The first was Geoff Duke, master of the smooth style that suited the tyres of the time, and inventor of onepiece racing leathers. He won on the single-cylinder Manx Norton, fast becoming obsolete except at the more technical tracks like the TT, in 1951; but had to wait another year before the first of three back-totitles on the four-cylinder Gilera. The other is Agostini, who took the crown seven times in an unbroken run from 1966 to 1972 on the MV Agusta. After two more relatively lean years on the same machine, he switched to Yamaha to win his last crown, Yamaha’s first in the class, and the first ever for a 500cc two-stroke. Others tried the two