The story behind his podium and Ducati turnaround
t may have taken a little longer than expected, but on Sunday in Jerez Jorge Lorenzo proved he can tame the Desmosedici by taking an incredible podium at the Spanish Grand Prix – silencing those who said his glory days were over now that he’s riding for Ducati.
His third place behind the dominant Repsol Honda pairing of Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez (see page 82) was the first time the 30-year-old Spaniard has been truly competitive since switching to the Italian marque, after nine years and three world titles with Yamaha.
Before the weekend, the chances of Lorenzo being on the podium looked slim at best. Jerez has historically been a difficult track for Ducati, but on the flipside it’s one of Lorenzo’s favourites, and his strength as a rider shone through as he scythed through the pack from eighth to third.
With many having already writtenoff the Spaniard’s hopes for the season – and with some prematurely suggesting that he could be set to break his two-year contract after only a season – Lorenzo went some way to setting the record straight.
He said: “Some people doubted my mentality, but they spoke too early and now they have to take back their words. You cannot doubt any rider in Motogp because everyone here is very good and can compete at the front – but especially anyone who has won world titles and many races in the past.
“It was worth more than a victory with the Yamaha, because everyone knows the difficulties that we still have with this very special bike, and at a track that has in the past been
Ivery difficult for us. But Jerez is one of my favourite tracks and I had a good feeling all weekend, so I knew that we had the potential for the podium.”
But despite that good feeling and confidence, Lorenzo admitted that it was only during the race itself that he knew he had the pace needed to break his Ducati podium duck, and ease the mounting pressure from his shoulders.
“I realised when I was catching Zarco that I could be on the podium. At that moment, you’re focused on riding but you can still think about where your position will be, and when I started catching up I knew it would be possible. It was difficult to keep believing when I was tired at the end of the race, but at last I made the break and I felt fantastic and knew we could finally make it happen,” said an ebullient Lorenzo.
But despite his impressive change in form, Lorenzo says that there’s been no dramatic single improvement in the bike since they made radical seat alterations at Argentina two rounds ago, and that Sunday’s result was simply a case of increased appreciation of how to ride the Desmosedici.
He said: “It’s a combination of many things, learning this bike and completing many kilometres. When I jumped on to the Yamaha in 2008, the bike was made for my riding style, but in other categories it took me a long time to learn the machinery – and with this bike it’s more or less the same.”
And as the championship now moves to Le Mans, a track where both Lorenzo and Ducati perform well, expect the five-time world champion to not only be on the podium, but eyeing a return to the top step.
‘I made the break and I felt fantastic and knew we could make it happen’ JORGE LORENZO
Just when people had written off Lorenzo’s year as a dead loss…
Motogp’s 3000th race Jerez marked a major milestone for Motogp as the series clocked up race #3000 with Honda coming out firmly on top