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|09-23-2015, 12:40 AM||#1|
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MotoGP: Jorge Lorenzo—"I have a good hand to play"
Although he trails nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi by 23 points with five races left, Jorge Lorenzo knows that anything can happen between now and the end of the season.
An Italian newspaper recently published a response Jorge Lorenzo gave to the phrase “Jorge Lorenzo is…” He finished the phrase with, “I am a happy guy, calm and in a nice moment in my life in all aspects. I am missing nothing. Because we all make mistakes, a perfect life doesn’t exist. Therefore it makes no sense to have regrets. It is more important to appreciate the present moment."
Compared to the exuberant Valentino Rossi and the fresh-faced Marc Marquez, Lorenzo has a much more opaque personality. From the outside, he may seem like a difficult character, with little spontaneity and difficult to approach. But the truth is, what stands behind this visage is a shy young person with a tendency to distrust, the consequence of harsh life experiences.
One on one, Lorenzo is a very amiable person. When you sit down with Lorenzo to have an informal chat, you notice that he likes to listen and that he thinks about what he is hearing. He usually takes a little while to answer or to give an opinion.
"The desire he shows is incredible," said Lorenzo of his teammate Valentino Rossi. "His wish to grow, his determination to work and the ability to learn from other riders…this humility is an example for me, for (Marc) Marquez, (Dani) Pedrosa…for all of us. Historically, a rider at his age has never challenged for the championship.”
As a rider, Lorenzo doesn’t need any PR; the results of his racing career do all the talking. For the moment, his sport résumé includes four world championship titles: the 250cc title in 2006 and 2007, and the MotoGP crown in 2010 and 2012. I say “for the moment” because this 28-year-old Spaniard born on the island of Mallorca is contesting for his third MotoGP title. An achievement only reached by the one rider who now stands between Lorenzo and his theoretical third crown, Valentino Rossi.
Having been teammates for long time—from 2008 to 2010 and from 2013 until now—the two know each other extremely well. I have heard Rossi say that he knows Lorenzo “down to the bones.” Similarly, Lorenzo knows how Rossi works psychologically and what he will do on track. In the past, especially when a young Lorenzo arrived in MotoGP with the intention of dethroning the “old champion,” the relationship between them was…well, let’s just say “tense.” Today, while you can’t say that they are good friends, they do respect each other.
Although it's obvious that Lorenzo needs to finish in front of Rossi in all five remaining MotoGP races to win the title, the simplest strategy is to win all of them; thus, even if Rossi finished second in all of those races, Lorenzo would still win the championship.
Lorenzo isn’t really surprised with the performance of his 36-year-old teammate. “I think he believes the opportunity of winning his 10th title is here, so he will do everything to make it happen. The desire he shows is incredible. His wish to grow, his determination to work and the ability to learn from other riders…this humility is an example for me, for Marquez, Pedrosa…for all of us. Historically, a rider at his age has never challenged for the championship.”
To race for the championship having Valentino Rossi as a rival means that three-quarters of the world, if not more, are rooting for the Italian to win. Even in Spain, Rossi has far more fans than Lorenzo. But it doesn’t bother Lorenzo. Perhaps in the past it did, but by now he is used to it. “Valentino’s career is incredible; there is no comparison with anyone else in history. Media-wise, he has known how to handle it very well. He has so many fans, and not just in Italy, that it is obvious to many people it would be very important for him to win the championship. But every rider has to think about himself, to improve on and off the track, and that is what I am trying to do.”
“What will be the deciding factor in who wins title?” This is the question Lorenzo and Rossi will listen to hundred times in the coming weeks. Lorenzo’s opinion is clear: “A mistake, bad luck—like I had in Qatar with my helmet—an engine failure, a rider that makes you crash…but also consistency and speed. There are many factors that can decide on which side the balance will fall. Ah, and don’t forget the rain!”
I’m up against one of the best, if not THE best of all time. At 36 (years old) he is still at the highest level. I have said it before and I’ll repeat it: Valentino is an example for everyone.Ah yes, the rain. Lorenzo looked like he had the field covered at Misano during practice, with a race pace that no one likely had an answer for. But when the rain fell during the race, it caused all that to be thrown out the window when he crashed out of the race on his first lap out when switching back to his slick-shod M1 as the track dried out. “Yes, it was shame, I was hoping it would stop raining when we were on slicks. But it started raining and when we changed (to the rain-tire shod bike), to be honest I felt strong when the rain was heavy. But then when it started to dry up, Valentino had a quicker pace and he overtook me. My pit crew told me to come in, but I didn’t feel it was safe because it was still spitting rain a lot, so I needed some laps to be sure. I just made one lap with the slicks. I didn’t have the patience to wait until the rear tire was fully warmed up.”
“We have to take the positive (from the day) that I’m OK, I didn’t break any bones. And that was important because the crash was very nasty. And Valentino didn’t finish on the podium. If he would’ve won or finished in second place, I will almost (surely) lose the championship. Now it’s more difficult than before, but still there is five races to finish and everything depends on ourselves.” For Lorenzo, the sure-fire strategy is that he must win all of the five remaining races; if he accomplishes this, no matter where Rossi finishes, Lorenzo will be crowned world champion.
Both being riders of the Yamaha Factory Team, Lorenzo and Rossi share a team box, which adds additional pressure. “I don’t feel it,” denies the 28-year-old double MotoGP champion. “I don’t feel the pressure because I’m up against one of the best, if not the best of all time. At 36 he is still at the highest level. I have said it before and I’ll repeat it: Valentino is an example for everyone. But I have confidence in my chances in terms of speed, concentration and consistency. I know I have a good hand to play, there is no other way than giving it all, on every track, in every turn.”
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