A Star is Born : Jorge Lorenzo
Pedrosa was heralded as the man to beat Rossi when he moved to the 990cc Honda in 2006. But Dani has often lost out in the head to head battle’s with Rossi leaving many wondering where the next challenge will come from. Nicky Hayden and Casey Stoner have managed to stop Rossi from winning the championship for the past two seasons, but with both riders suffering in their defending season it has left many questioning whether they could take the mantle as the next big thing in MotoGP.
One man who is clearly comfortable to step up to this position is the latest buzz around the paddock and Rossi’s team mate, Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo is far from an undiscovered talent. It is now five years since he made his debut in the world championship as a fresh faced fifteen year old competing in the second day of the 125cc qualifying at Jerez. Jorge had to wait until the second day of qualifying as he wasn’t fifteen until the Saturday. Five years and two world championships later he finds himself leading the points standings in the premier class, with three pole positions and three podiums one of which was a fantastic victory at Estoril. Jorge’s impressive form in the premier class also appears to have sparked a fire within Dani Pedrosa. I’ve never seen Pedrosa so fired up at the beginning of a season. It’s appears like Pedrosa has finally found a reason to take it up to the next level. Visibly upset with his efforts in Estoril, Pedrosa slammed the tank of his RC212V with his fist. Pedrosa like many of the riders before him had broken records on his accent to the top of his sport, erasing many of Valentino’s records which he had set. Now barely two years later Jorge Lorenzo has re-written the record books erasing his compatriot and bitter rivals name from the history of the sport. Jorge like Dani is a two time 250cc world champion, but Jorge managed to become the most successful Spanish rider in the history of the 250cc class by taking his sixteenth victory at Misano in 2007, which is one more than Dani Pedrosa or Sito Pons.
Another record which Jorge has managed to re-write was becoming the youngest rider in MotoGP to score three podiums, a record which he took again from arch enemy Dani Pedrosa by one day. Clearly Dani is not pleased to see his compatriot performing so well and taking all the media limelight and plaudits from the crowd, but Jorge is willing to give the media the quotes that sell and play up to the crowd and we all love an entertainer.
No one was quite sure how things would work in the Factory Yamaha garage in 2008, with two larger than life personalities there was bound to be a conflict of interest. As it turned out the two riders wouldn't have to co-exist in the same garage in 2008. After Valentino’s decision to move to Bridgestone there is a dividing wall between the two factory riders to stop any tyre data from being exchanged. Lorenzo has therefore been working closely with Edwards and Toseland to provide feedback for the three Michelin shod Yamaha’s while Valentino is forced to develop his own package with only the help of Yamaha test riders. Would Rossi have been able to compete with Lorenzo for the victory in Estoril had he been on Michelin’s? Well that’s a question we will probably never know the answer to.
Valentino Rossi was critical in his comments at the end of 2007 about Yamaha’s decision to sign Lorenzo to the factory team. Rossi clearly felt that Yamaha were not concentrating on the job at hand. The M1 required development for the championship and Rossi instead felt that Yamaha had been attempting to woo the services of a new champion, a new contender, perhaps a replacement. Rossi was justifiably upset that Yamaha had decided to ignore the wishes of the seven times champion, after all Yamaha hadn’t been championship contenders over recent seasons before Rossi’s switch in 2004. However it was also suggested in the media, that Rossi saw Lorenzo as a potential threat. Looking at the two riders from a external view they appear very similar, They both take their sport extremely seriously, they like to have a laugh, they are both not backward in coming forward for the press and providing a quote for the media to get excited about and they both enjoy playing up to the crowd with after race celebrations, all the more reason for you to expect the two of them to get along. Well one sticking point is that it would appear that Lorenzo was a Biaggi fan, which I’m sure doesn’t sit too well with Rossi.
Lorenzo is never short on confidence, but then champions never are. He appears to have been playing a clever game with the media over pre-season dismissing his chances of success, claiming that he needs to learn the new class. However it is more than likely that he has been plotting his rivals downfall all winter, hence the fact that the LorenzoLand flag was present after the race on Sunday. He clearly now three rounds into the championship considers himself a championship contender, fitting in surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome in the three week break before the teams resume their campaign in China. Lorenzo has a stranglehold on the championship and over his rivals. Don’t expect him to let it go with out a battle.
Love him or hate him, Lorenzo is something that MotoGP has been missing, something we haven’t seen since in my opinion a young Rossi made his way into 500cc Grand Prix. Someone who can beat his opponents into submission on the track and then will enjoy rubbing their faces in it.