Out of the eight riders that failed to finish the crash fest that was Sunday’s Argentenian GP, Jorge Lorenzo got the least of my sympathy. I wasn’t pleased to see him crash out, certainly not, but once it was clear he was fine I can’t say I was sad to see him go. Despite being one of the most talented riders of a generation and untouchable on his day I only have respect for him and even that is given begrudgingly. I’m not entirely sure why I feel this way but I get the feeling I’m not alone.
If I were a Rossi fan my dislike would be easy to understand. In their eyes Lorenzo joined the Yamaha garage and was gifted a bike developed by the man he was to depose. To make it worse he copied his leathers, logos, and bike set ups and also started to copy his trademark celebrations too only they’ve never been funny, occasionally go wrong and are more likely to make you cringe than laugh. As Rossi became less competitive things may have simmered down but as The Doctor regained form they were soon at it again, finally boiling over at Sepang in 2015 where Lorenzo decided to stick his oar into the infamous clash that did not involve him. While the Spaniard denied arguing with Race Direction immediately after the race his lawyers did file an intervention in Rossi’s appeal to The Court of Arbitration for Sport , hoping to influence the penalty decision and snuff out Rossi’s title hopes before they even arrived in Valencia. Luckily, Lorenzo’s intervention was thrown out but not before it cemented his status as a prize bell end among Rossi fans.
Even if like me, your blood doesn’t run yellow, or any other colour for that matter, and you’re a fan of the racing first and foremost you probably still don’t want to see an on from Lorenzo at the front of the grid. Why? Because that almost guarantees a Lorenzo win and that makes for boring viewing, a race led from start to finish by one man where the only thing that alters is the gap by which he leads. Granted, those performances may be a masterclass in precision and skill but if I wanted to watch something retrace it’s lines with machine like accuracy I’d buy a Scaletrix set. The “Metronome” nickname given to him by commentators could not be more fitting but I don’t mean that as a compliment. A metronome may be consistent and keep perfect time but who wants to watch one when you’ve got the Moto GP equivalent of Keith Moon in Marc Marquez, wild and seemingly out of control yet still keeping the same beat as the metronome. The only time Lorenzo’s racing has had me on the edge of my seat was the final round of the 2013 season. Trailing Marquez by thirteen points he knew his only chance of taking the title was if Marquez made a big blunder so Lorenzo took the lead, slowed the pack and tried to goad Marquez into making a mistake. Even though that race showed a fight in Lorenzo I’d been itching to see I remember not being impressed but more annoyed by his tactics that I thought were a bit underhand, so on that day I was a Marquez fan.
For me Pedrosa is a similar rider to Lorenzo in that he’s successful just a bit vanilla, yet I’m quite happy to see him on the podium and a big part of me would still like to see him win the premier class title he surely deserves. So why the difference in feeling between him and his fellow countrymen? Maybe I need to go back to the start. When I started watching the GP it was 2010, I’d recently passed my bike test and Marco Simoncelli had just moved into the premier class. Like most people I was immediately drawn to him. He was a ruthless racer on track but seemed a likable man off it with warmth, sincerity and a personality as big as his hair. Lorenzo however came across as a completely different character, seemingly void of personality, arrogant and rarely smiling. He was the opposite of Super Sic and the two rarely saw eye to eye. Fast forward six years and Simoncelli is sadly no longer with us and there’s still little sign of Lorenzo’s personality or a genuine smile from him which is odd considering that last year he was paid a reported $7.5 million to be flown around the best circuits on which to race the fastest bikes in the world. I’m not for a moment saying it’s an easy life, I can barely begin to imagine the sacrifices he must have made and the pressures he must face but if that were my job I’d have a smile bigger than the Jokeresque one worn by Marquez and eyes that beemed brighter than Rossi’s. Two men who clearly love what they do and are more likable for it.
With a move to Ducati firmly on the cards he has a golden opportunity to convert some of the haters by lifting a fourth Moto GP title on the Desmosedici and while that would be impressive it still wouldn’t have me rushing out to buy one of his race rep helmets. For me Lorenzo has always been impressive, he’s just never been likeable. Would Jorge be bothered if he read this? I doubt he’d lose any sleep over it put it that way. His job isn’t to entertain people or win a popularity contest, it’s to win motorcycle races and no one can deny he’s good at that, best in the world some might say.
Words: Anthony MacLeod