Jorge Lorenzo: Can he beat King Rossi and Prince Marquez?
Jorge Lorenzo, with 13 years’ racing experience at the age of 28(!) is eyeing the title at the Mugello Circuit tomorrow. Racing with him, however, is Valentino Rossi – the undisputed King of Mugello. It is not only Rossi’s home track, but the host to his iconic 7 back-to-back victories from 2002 to 2008. The home crowd support he has is legendary, with seas of yellow-clad fans thronging the circuit just to watch Rossi.
Marquez was at pole in Mugello in 2014, his fifth of that year in a row – and also his sixth win. With 12 wins under his belt in the 2014 racing season, he won the 2014 Drivers’ World Championship as well, with his team Repsol Honda winning the constrcutors championship simultaneously. His 2015 racing season, however, has not been as stellar; while Marquez won the MotoGP of the Americas in Texas, he faltered several times during other races, costing him precious leads. Texas saw Marquez’s only podium of the year so far in spite of him being the favourite to win this year as well.
He rides this race nursing an injury sustained during solo practice – a fractured finger that required the insertion of a titanium plate.
Lorenzo has been the MotoGP World Champion two years in a row, in 2006 and 2007. His 2014 racing season started off less than stellar, winning only two podium spots in the first 7 races of the season. Thereafter, however, he finished in 2nd spot in four consecutive races: at the Indianapolis GP, at the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic, the British MotoGP and the MotoGP of San Marino. He also had back to back wins Aragon and Motegi, and ended up turning his season around entirely, finishing in 3rd in the drivers’ championships behind Marquez and Valentino Rossi.
His racing season so far has been successful, with 3 finishes in the top 5, and two wins on the trot at the Spanish MotoGP and the MotoGP at Le Mans. He definitely has a momentum and rhythm, and he will be looking to sustain this as he goes into race day at Mugello. When questioned about his 2014 form, Lorenzo mentioned that he was not in the ‘best physical condition’, and that he was not used to the harder tyres that had been used that year.
Several things are in Lorenzo’s favour this race: with new and improved bikes from Yamaha, Lorenzo mentions being able to ‘feel the difference’, saying there had been a notable improvement in the handling of corners, which had been an Achilles heel for Yamaha last year. A long-standing coldness between Lorenzo and teammate Rossi, who came second behind teammate Lorenzo at Le Mans, also seems to have dissipated or disappeared entirely, and Lorenzo is doubtless on a high after his own two wins. In an interview before the practice sessions, he mentions the two having ‘grown up’ and ‘become more mature’.
Questioned about Marquez, Lorenzo says that it is normal for fortunes to reverse. Last year, he says, Marquez had a “good bike” and was in “good physical condition”, which was the case with Yamaha this year, and they would capitalise on it. Expressing his desire to ride the wave of success, he says he is going into this race feeling “mentally strong”, and “ I'm going to try to keep it for as long as possible."