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RideFast Jan 2020

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  • Rossi
  • Honda
  • Yamaha
  • Motogp
  • Ducati
  • Lorenzo
  • January
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winning the world

winning the world championship after Rossi suffered his first major injury, breaking a leg at Mugello, and missing three races. That was the year that Valentino Rossi had enough of being Jorge Lorenzo’s teammate, and departed for an ill-fated spell at Ducati, replacing Casey Stoner, who had moved to Honda. Stoner formed an almost unbeatable combination with the Honda, taking the title from Lorenzo in 2011, though Lorenzo got his revenge in 2012, winning the MotoGP title for a second time, becoming the first Spanish rider to win multiple titles in the premier class. 2013 saw the arrival of Marc Márquez, replacing the retiring Casey Stoner. Márquez made an even bigger impact than Lorenzo had on his debut, winning the championship at his first try. In doing so, Márquez pushed Lorenzo as Lorenzo had pushed Rossi before him, forcing him to extend himself to the limit to try to retain his crown. confidence in the front end, a crucial part of Lorenzo’s riding, didn’t help, and he was constantly afraid of another crash. Though the vertebrae were healing well, the seed of doubt had been planted. Lorenzo had come within a hair of suffering a spinal injury which would have meant he might never have walked again. Spinal injuries and head injuries are the two things riders fear most. Pain, they can endure. Life changing injuries are a different ballgame. Rising Star So comes an end to a remarkable career in motorcycle racing. Jorge Lorenzo was raised by his father to be a world champion, father Chicho even writing a book about how to raise a child to be a champion. Lorenzo entered Grand Prix racing in 2002, at Jerez, the third round of that season, having had to wait until he was 15 years of age to join the Grand Prix paddock. He won his first race the following year, 2003, at the Rio Grand Prix in Jacarepaguá in Brazil. The next year, he won three races, finishing fourth in the 125cc championship. In 2005, Lorenzo moved up to the 250cc class, where soon found success. After a year of adapting to the class, scoring six podiums, he took the 250cc title the following two seasons. Yamaha had recognized his talent early, starting talks with Lorenzo in 2006, the Spaniard moving up to partner Valentino Rossi in the factory Yamaha team in 2008. Yamaha Rivalry That was the start of a fraught relationship. Yamaha had brought Lorenzo in as insurance, after Valentino Rossi had shown an interest in either retiring or going off to race on four wheels, in F1 or Endurance. Rossi resented the presence of Lorenzo, and had actively worked to prevent Yamaha from signing the Spaniard. Even in 2007, Rossi’s then teammate Colin Edwards was telling journalists that Yamaha would be keeping him in the factory team because Rossi didn’t want Lorenzo as a teammate. That Rossi was unhappy with Lorenzo as a teammate was evident from the start. The Italian made the switch to Bridgestone tires in 2008, but demanded that only he would get the Bridgestones, leaving Lorenzo on Michelins, and giving him an excuse to erect a wall in the garage, and stop the sharing of data, as neither Michelin nor Bridgestone would allow data to be shared between the two riders. Lorenzo made a spectacular start to his MotoGP career, in every sense of the word. He took pole position at the first three races of 2008. He was on the podium at Qatar and Jerez, before getting his first win in just his third MotoGP race, at Estoril in Portugal. At the next race in China, he managed to highside himself to the moon, smashing both ankles, but finishing fourth in the race nonetheless. The next race, Barcelona, he had another huge smash, knocking himself unconscious and earning a stay in hospital. It taught him a valuable lesson, and it him some time to find his feet again, only returning to the podium six races later at Misano. Champion at Last In 2009, Lorenzo made his first full bid for the title, finishing second behind his teammate Valentino Rossi. In 2010, he finally achieved his lifetime goal, Man of Steel That year saw what would become perhaps the defining moment in Jorge Lorenzo’s career. At Assen, during a soaking wet FP2 on Thursday, Lorenzo hit a patch of water as he entered the terrifyingly fast right-left kink of Hoge Heide. He landed heavily, and broke his collarbone. Desperate to hold onto his chances of retaining the title, he flew back to Barcelona on Thursday night, had his collarbone plated by Dr. Mir, and then flew back to Assen late on Friday night. Lorenzo was passed fit on Saturday morning, ended morning warm up in eighth, then went on to finish the race in fifth position starting from last on the grid. He had lost only two points to championship leader Dani Pedrosa, and been far more competitive than anyone expected. It was an other-worldly performance. The effort of the race had taken every ounce of grit and determination he had in his body. He had dealt with pain and suffering he never imagined existed, and triumphed over it. “I did something incredible that shows how the mind can push the body to the limits,” Lorenzo said of that race. But the crash came at a huge cost. Two weeks later, Lorenzo crashed again during practice, bending the plate on his collarbone. This time, he did not fly off for surgery and try to race, but instead came back a week later for the race at Laguna Seca. Enter Doubt Since the 2013 Assen crash, Lorenzo lost confidence in mixed conditions. He was still hard to beat in the dry, and fast when it was fully wet, but when grip was low, he suffered. It was partially a testament to his style, his ability to carry corner speed hampered by a lack of grip. But it was also because never found the confidence to push in tricky conditions, to try to put heat into the tires and trust that they would carry him. 2014 was a year of recovery for Lorenzo, coming back from multiple surgeries during the winter. He turned up at Sepang out of shape and overweight, and it took him a season to get back in form. That year stood him in good stead, however, Lorenzo capitalizing on an underperforming Honda forcing Márquez into mistakes, and triumphing over his teammate at the end of the year to take the title. That was also not without controversy. The feud between Rossi and Márquez blew up during the flyaways, and while Lorenzo got on with the job of trying to win races and taking back the championship lead from Valentino Rossi, Rossi got caught up in conspiracy 70 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE JANUARY 2020 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE JANUARY 2020 7 1