/Jorge Lorenzo The Comeback Kid

Jorge Lorenzo The Comeback Kid

Jorge Lorenzo is back with a vengeance and three successive MotoGP victories proves the Majorcan is back to his very best form.

So what’s changed? Well let’s start from the cause of Lorenzo’s dip in form. We need to go back just under two years to a very wet practice session in Assen where Lorenzo suffered a huge crash doing in excess of 150mph. The resulting accident required immediate surgery for a severely damaged shoulder that was ultimately pinned in place. The mental toughness of Lorenzo was demonstrated however with a flight back home to Spain to have medical assistance only to return on the Sunday to finish 5th, which left the Spaniard in tears due to the pain he was in after the race. However the damage was already done Marc Marquez was enjoying his debut season with Honda and we all know what happened there and the race at Assen saw a first victory for Valentino Rossi since his return to Yamaha. 

Lorenzo’s luck took another turn for the worse at the very next GP, at the Sachsenring, the Yamaha man crashed again and had no choice but to pull out of the race having damaged the titanium plate that was inserted a few weeks prior as a result of the Assen crash. It was quickly becoming a season to forget for Lorenzo who was the defending champion after all. His teammate was beginning to string a run of podium finishes together and had become a little more comfortable with the M1 once again. 

The man from Majorca is a complex figure and once there are doubts in his mind it is difficult for Lorenzo to let go, he was clearly uncomfortable and riding with a clear lack of confidence, well who wouldn’t two huge accidents requiring surgery and metal plates inserting any man would be rattled the next time they hop on the bike especially a MotoGP one.

It took six races to see Lorenzo step back on the top step again recording back to back victories at Silverstone and Misano. Whilst all this was happening Marc Marquez was starting to take the limelight and was fast becoming the poster boy of MotoGP with his stellar performances and his all or nothing approach to riding a MotoGP bike on the very limit of what these machines could do. 

The 2013 season was one to forget for the defending champion Lorenzo he just never got into his stride as a result of the two incidents, which cost him the chance to retain his title. Let’s not doubt the man’s resilience Lorenzo finished the season strongly but just couldn’t get back on terms with the youngest ever MotoGP champion Marc Marquez taking the title in his rookie season. You couldn’t take anything away from Marquez he rode his luck at times throughout the season but was a deserving champion.

What do we do with Marquez?

Nothing is the answer. Nobody could do anything with Marc Marquez at the beginning of the 2014 season the Spaniard was full of confidence from his debut season in MotoGP having taken his first title. In fact he was that confident he went and won the first 10 races of the season to equal Mick Doohans previous record from 1997.  

Let’s not forget Lorenzo went under the surgeons knife three times in the close season to rectify problems from the incidents suffered in the 2013 season. Lorenzo is a fitness fanatic and it was clear Jorge was struggling to put a training regime together around his operations, the result meant he came along to the winter tests not in the best condition.

The start of the season for Jorge was a disaster with a nasty crash in Qatar within the opening few corners of the first lap not the ideal start the Majorcan envisaged. Many reporters and riders alike were now looking at Lorenzo with interest debating whether Marc Marquez had got “into his head”, which was the comment from Kevin Schwantz. At the next fly away meeting in Austin Lorenzo came home in 10th after the most bizarre start you will ever see. The riders lined up with the lights on and Lorenzo in a moment of madness decided to hit the throttle to the surprise of everyone, this just wasn’t the Lorenzo everyone knew.

The interesting thing about the start of the 2014 season was a resurgence in Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi with a clear change in riding style the “Doctor” was clearly in no mood to be Lorenzo’s number 2 or let Marquez take all the limelight. In the opening 7 races Rossi was within the top 3 five times and delivering some of his best performances since returning to Yamaha.

The interesting thing about Lorenzo was at the Le Mans GP, the race was run in wet conditions and clearly Lorenzo was uncomfortable in these conditions many suggesting that his confidence was rattled and thoughts of Assen were still at the forefront of his mind, who knows but he was clearly ruffled.

We then returned to the scene of Lorenzo’s worst incident Assen and once again the rain came and damp conditions saw Lorenzo fade rapidly from the contest, he was clearly scared and openly admitted he felt nervous with the situation, it was clear to see cracks were appearing in Lorenzo’s armour for the first time.

By the time half the season was done Lorenzo had accepted that he needed to adapt to the issues that were causing him problems such as the new heat resistant layer on the Birdgestone tyres limiting his high speed corner entry. Many personal trainers came and went until he was satisfied with his fitness, he worked hard with Yamaha to solve the bikes issues and actually helped develop the new exhaust we see on it today. 

Lorenzo finished 2014 strongly but it didn’t stop Marquez retaining his world title or his Yamaha teammate taking second in the championship with a clear shift in who was now the main rider in the camp. Although doubts appeared again at the season finale in Valencia again in wet conditions Lorenzo pulled out of the race altogether after changing machines to try and take 2nd in the world championship.

Lorenzo actually outscored Marquez in the second half of the season with Lorenzo stating “When you analyse from Sachsenring to this race it has been one of my best periods in MotoGP, probably not better than 2010 because I finished almost all the races on the podium”.

What now?

2015 started slowly for Lorenzo with his teammate Rossi yet again taking two early victories to cement his place as the number one rider in the Yamaha camp with clear change in order visible to see. Rossi actually leads the current standings dreaming of a 10th title and riding at his best again. However in the last three races Lorenzo as reminded everyone who he is with some stellar performances putting him within touching distance of his teammate. We return to Catalunya next weekend with both Yamaha riders eager to win, fans thoughts will drift back to the race from 2009, which saw the two men exchange positions at will in the closing laps with Italian Rossi finally taking victory with one of the most audacious last corner moves we have witnessed in MotoGP.

There’s no doubt Lorenzo is back he is leaner and more determined than ever having lost over 5kg in the close season there are many now placing their bets on Lorenzo taking a 3rd world title such is the form the man is in. He may be the most complex character in MotoGP and not the most well received rider in the paddock with fans, but from a riders perspective there aren’t many if any better than Lorenzo on is day. We’re in for a cracker of a season and we can’t wait to see the final outcome.

 

Shaun Woodward is a keen bike enthusiast and loves anything that involves 2 wheels. He has followed all categories of bike racing since he can remember from the days of Rainey, Schwantz and Gardener. A fitness enthusiast and a person with a keen eye to detail he will provide many useful insights into the world of MotoGP throughout the coming season and beyond.