Lorenzo on pace
Reigning champion finishes ahead of Marquez and Rossi to keep 2016 title hopes alive after fighting hard to keep dominant Ducatis in sight
Jorge Lorenzo celebrated an impressive third place at the Austrian Grand Prix as if he had won the 28-lap race – and admitted afterwards that this epic encounter was a huge step towards retaining his world title.
Finishing ahead of title rivals Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi, the Spaniard was finally able to close down Marquez’s championship lead after a series of disastrous races.
“This third place is almost like a victory. When you’ve had many victories like I’ve had the opportunity to do in my career, third place isn’t exactly the same as a win, but third was our most optimistic position in this race.
“I was really focused on winning and I pushed all race. At the beginning, I think I could even have been a bit faster, but I couldn’t pass Iannone on acceleration. I just stayed calm, didn’t make mistakes and stayed in second place until Dovizioso passed me and they increased the pace.
“I tried to stay with them, but our bike probably destroyed the tyre a little bit more than theirs and I realised that third was realistic. I had to concentrate then to keep my lap times consistent and to stay ahead of Rossi. It took a lot of effort, but I was able to finish in my maximum position.”
And while he knew going into the race that third place was the about best that he could manage against the dominant Ducatis, Lorenzo did admit something that bodes well for next year, when he defects to the Italian outfit.
“I was surprised at the beginning, because I expected Iannone with the softer tyre to pull a gap. Maybe he was saving it for the second part of the race, but I also thought he might be even slower at the end – but I was very wrong, and he was even better at the end!”
Lorenzo was thrilled to bounce back after a run of poor results and instantly hit out at his critics. He stated: “Every time I don’t make great results it’s ‘Lorenzo in crisis’. It’s happened many times, but sometimes this happens in Motogp, and you just have to make sure not to get injured and to just wait for your moment. I did that and demonstrated again that I can be competitive for the win.
“I always believe in myself, and I’ve had some difficult moments in my career but I’ve always come back from them stronger. I knew it would only be a matter of time and I just kept working and didn’t get down. It’s easy to get down when you go to a race and have a bad result, then again… and again. It’s easy to get frustrated, but I knew it would pass.
“We knew that Ducati were in another world here and that third was the best possible, so it feels like a victory. I’m happy with the result, and happy with the effort I put in and the concentration that I held.”
‘I’ve had some difficult moments but always come back stronger’ JORGE LORENZO