2015 Motegi Sunday MotoGP Round Up, Part 1: Pedrosa, Rossi, Lorenzo - Joy, Exhaustion, Frustration

Saturday at Motegi had offered the mouthwatering prospect of the battle we have been waiting for all year. Valentino Rossi had cracked his qualifying jinx and lined up on the grid next to Jorge Lorenzo. The pair were close in qualifying times and in race pace, and with 14 points separating them in the championship, there was a lot at stake. Finally, we might get to see Rossi and Lorenzo go head to head in the struggle for supremacy, and to seize the momentum in the MotoGP title race.

As has so often been the case, the hopes of the fans withered on the vine on race day. The rain wrecked any chance of a straight and open battle between the two protagonists in the title chase, throwing the day's schedule into disarray, and turning what could have been an all-out war into a cagey battle of tactics.

We may not have been given what we hoped for, but there was still plenty for the fans to get their teeth into. Jorge Lorenzo looked to have the race sewn up by the halfway mark, but a slowly drying track blew the race wide open. There were very few direct battles, at least not up front, but an increasingly dry line radically changed the dynamic of the race. There was tension, there were surprises, myths and shibboleths were shattered. The championship took on a new impetus, and the strain of the fight going down to the line started to take its toll. This is going to be a tough year for the men who would be champion.

Man on a mission

Valentino Rossi's qualifying strategy – using other riders to get up to speed, then launch his own time attack – paid off handsomely at the start. For once, it wasn't Jorge Lorenzo who was first into the first corner, but rather his teammate. On the outside of the track, Lorenzo took a slightly slower and more cautious line, allowing Rossi to get past underneath him. Rossi's lead lasted precisely two corners – the first long right hander is counted as two separate corners, rather than a single turn – before Lorenzo rocketed past Rossi and into the lead ahead of Turn 3.

Lorenzo was a man in a hurry, and pushed hard in the opening laps, his superior speed translating just as well to fully wet conditions as it had been in the dry. Stung by claims that he had lost his touch in the wet, Lorenzo showed just what he was capable of, quickly opening a gap of over three seconds over his teammate. By lap 6, Lorenzo looked to have the race in the bag. Wilco Zeelenberg's words held true: when the track has predictable grip, either fully wet or fully dry, there is no rider faster.

A change of pace

But Zeelenberg's words would only hold true for two more laps. The track was slowly starting to dry, and Lorenzo's push had taken its toll on his tires. Lorenzo was forced to slow up just a little, his pace leveling off, but his lead over Rossi holding steady. Further down the field, Dani Pedrosa's tires were just starting to come into their own. He had equivocated on the grid about choosing the hard or the soft wet rear tire. He had not liked the feel from the hard rear on his sighting lap, and so switched to the soft rear on the grid. Off the line, that tire hadn't felt great either, so he had treated the first few laps with great caution, losing a lot of time to the leaders, and Ducati man Andrea Dovizioso who had slotted into third.

That caution, and the Spaniard's lighter weight, would pay off handsomely further down the line. "I took a lot of care at the beginning, because I couldn't really push," Pedrosa said in the press conference. "I knew towards the end it will be important, so many first and second gear you must accelerate hard from this points. Our machine is quite aggressive on the engine, so you must control a lot." Though his lap times were decent, the gap to the front grew to nearly nine seconds. He had almost resigned himself to taking fourth, when he saw the gap started to close.

Pedrosa's lap times were constant, holding in the mid to high 1'55s, but the riders ahead were starting to suffer. Where the front tires of the Yamahas and the Ducati were going to pot, Pedrosa's was holding steady. His lap times were declining slowly, while those of the mean ahead were going downhill rapidly. Andrea Dovizioso's times dropped off a cliff, and Pedrosa quickly reeled the Ducati in and took over third. By now, the difference between Pedrosa and the Yamahas was growing fast. On lap 12, he was over half a second faster than both Rossi and Lorenzo. Two laps later, the differential was getting on for a second a lap, then a second and a half, and then two seconds.

Rossi was Pedrosa's first victim, the Italian's worst nightmare. Sitting in second to Lorenzo, he was giving up 5 precious points to his teammate, his lead potentially cut from 14 to 9 points. With Pedrosa between him and Lorenzo, the gap fell to just 5 points. With three races left after Motegi, that would have blown the championship wide open. Rossi tried to grab the wheel of the Repsol Honda, but he hung in there for less than half a lap, gaining just three tenths on Lorenzo with Pedrosa's help.

Rossi was fearful indeed at that point. "When Dani arrived, I was very worried, because he beat me, but I don't know if he's able to go to Jorge," Rossi said. "Losing another 9 point like in Aragon is difficult for the championship." But Rossi's fears were short lived. Pedrosa disposed of Lorenzo with the same ease he had done with Rossi, passing him easily yet carefully on lap 18. That cut Rossi's losses by 4 points, leaving him with a 10 point lead. By then, though, tires were completely shot, and both Movistar Yamahas were slowing fast.

And then there were four...

Pedrosa was still fast, and left the Yamahas as if they were standing still. The Spaniard went on to take his 50th Grand Prix victory, moving him closer to Phil Read (52) and Mick Doohan (54) in the all time standings. The victory came not just as a relief, but also a source of great joy. It had been over a year since his last win, which came at Brno in 2014. Yet he had not savored that win as much as this, as the Brno victory had come amidst a year of suffering in silence with arm pump. "That Brno race I really didn't enjoy it, because I was suffering so much on the bike," Pedrosa said. This was different. "More than the victory today, the thing is I enjoy a lot in the race. I was feeling quite good, and this is the good part in MotoGP, like last race with Valentino." A Pedrosa relishing riding, relishing the battle is a dangerous Pedrosa. Sure, the wet weather meant the track hadn't stressed his arms as much as a dry race might have, but Pedrosa was immensely strong last time out at Aragon as well. Dani Pedrosa is a real threat again.

Pedrosa's joy in riding was evident in everything he did, the way he rode and the way he celebrated his victory. Behind the Repsol Honda, there was a lot less joy. The mental stress of riding was taking its toll on both riders, the stress of managing shot tires. Jorge Lorenzo's had the harder job, his front tire totally gone. So bad was it that on lap 19, he found himself unable to get the bike stopped into Turn 3, and ran wide, right to the very edge of the track. At the same point he had passed Rossi on the first lap, Rossi, who had closed the gap to Lorenzo, took over second spot.

Lorenzo needed all of his balance and ability to stay inside the white line and not run off into the gravel. He had lost 2nd to Rossi, but it could have been a lot worse. If he had crashed, or run off into the gravel, he could have found himself falling back much further, and losing more than just four points.

At that point, the race was settled, Rossi battling a busted Bridgestone to come home in second, Lorenzo crawling home in third. Lorenzo entered the pits in deep frustration, suffering most of all because he had seen a chance to dominate and seize control of the series back from his teammate and rival. When he got off the bike, the first thing he did was look at his front tire. The tread on the edge as pretty well mashed up, but so was the tread in the center, a sign that braking had become very difficult indeed. In comparison, Rossi's front was bad, both edges shot nearly as badly as Lorenzo's, while the middle of the tread was in better shape. By contrast, Dani Pedrosa's tires looked remarkably good. They were badly worn, but nothing in comparison with the two Yamahas.

The art of management

How had Pedrosa managed his tires better than the two Yamahas? Firstly, he had been more cautious in the opening laps, as he struggled to get some feel with the rear. As the race went on, his much lighter weight stressed the surface of the tires much less, creating less load on the tires. In the dry, this can be a real disadvantage, Pedrosa often having to work hard to create grip to prevent the bike from spinning and wheelying. In the drying conditions, Pedrosa's weight had worked in his favor.

But Pedrosa, like Rossi, had also worked harder at keeping his tires cool. Every chance Pedrosa got, he ran off line and through the wet part of the track, using the water on its surface to help cool the tires. Rossi did likewise, though the more sweeping lines the Yamaha needs made it a little more difficult for him to do so. Lorenzo, by contrast, seemed to remain on the drying racing line throughout, his tires overheating and losing rubber and grip. In the dry, Lorenzo's precision is his strength, able to hit exactly the right line lap after lap to extract maximum performance from the tire. That precision worked against him in the wet.

Rossi must have been thrilled to gain points over his rival at a track where he had expected to lose out, but he couldn't show it. It was a drained and exhausted Italian that climbed off his M1 in Parc Fermé, the struggle of keeping the bike upright having sapped all of his energy. Even in the press conference, it was clear that the battle with the bike and with the conditions had taken a lot out of Rossi. "It was very difficult, because mentally it was a big stress, especially at the end, because it was difficult to control the bike," Rossi said. "When the track is drying up, the tire give up a lot and every time become more difficult."

The effort expended had been worth it, though. Rossi's advantage over Lorenzo is now up to 18 points. With three races left, the championship is no longer completely in Lorenzo's control. Even if he wins at Phillip Island, Sepang and Valencia – difficult, but far from impossible – he still needs someone to get in between him and Rossi at one race. Rossi, on the other hand, only needs to finish behind Lorenzo to be champion.

Rossi dismissed that suggestion out of hand at the press conference. "For me this is quite impossible," Rossi said. "Is very difficult that from now to the end, me and Jorge arrive always first and second. Because the two Hondas are very strong, because in three races we will have completely different conditions, and the typology of the three tracks are very different. So I never do this type of calculation, because in 99% of times it doesn't happen." Rossi took a very different approach than merely following Lorenzo round. "I need to concentrate on Phillip Island, and try to arrive in front of Jorge. This is the target, more than making the calculation arriving behind."

When fastest isn't fast enough

Lorenzo could not hide his frustration at the situation. He felt that fate and the elements were conspiring against him. "I didn't have the luck of the circumstances like in some other races this year," he told the press conference. "In Qatar, I have the problem of the helmet, but in some other races I was the fastest on the dry, and it rains, so I couldn't take profit of my speed in the dry to get two or three races. And today I was the fastest one ion the dry and the wet, but it dries up after a wet beginning and I couldn't win the race I believe I could have won. So yes, I believe in this moment of the championship especially, and in general, I am the fastest one this year, because the bike, because the speed, because my concentration, but circumstances don't help for the moment, and maybe it helps in the next rounds."

Is it really bad luck which has held Lorenzo back? The problem with a loose helmet lining obscuring his vision is down to poor preparation, though that is not directly Lorenzo's fault. He can't be blamed for catching pneumonia on his way to Austin, which made it hard for him to be competitive. The weather is also a factor outside of Lorenzo's control, but at least the weather is the same for everyone. Being fastest in the dry counts for nothing unless the race is also in the dry, and it has rained often enough this year for that to become a factor. Coping with changing circumstances is just as much a part of racing as being able to go as fast as possible. If Lorenzo is to put his points losses down to bad luck with the weather, then you could make the case that his wins in the dry have come as a result of good luck with the weather.

His frustration is understandable, however. Lorenzo has turned up at most races and been fastest in practice, and often also in qualifying. He has started from pole four times, and been on the front row for twelve of the fifteen races so far this year. He has six victories, which have come as a result of leading into the first corner and punishing the rest of the field with his pace. It must be galling to come to a track like Motegi, dominate in the dry from the first practice, show excellent pace in the wet in warm up, and destroy the field in the wet in the race, only for your tires to turn to chewing gum as a dry line develops, and see your rivals leave you standing, and nothing you can do about it. But perhaps Lorenzo's mistake was to believe that the weather would not change, and to apply his usual tactics of dominating from the start, without worrying about his tires. The weather is a fickle mistress, and she serves no man. Like a wayward husband, Lorenzo took her far too much for granted, and was punished for his sins.

Valentino Rossi took a dim view of Lorenzo's appeal to luck. "I think it is disrespectful to me to blame fate," Rossi told the Italian press. He could not resist taking a dig at his teammate when asked about tire preservation. "You could say I was more intelligent," Rossi answered. "But let's say that I am more lucky." Though the atmosphere in the Movistar Yamaha garage has been largely cordial throughout the year, now that the title is coming down to the final few races, the knives are coming out.

There were, of course, more than just three riders in the race at Motegi. But as the title chase reaches a climax, what transpires between Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi becomes increasingly portentous. There were many stories to tell of what went on behind the podium battle, but they must wait for tomorrow. The fight for the title is important enough to deserve a chapter of its own.

Where does Motegi leave the 2015 MotoGP championship? Valentino Rossi is firmly in control now, but the fat lady is still very much in her dressing room. A lot can go wrong for either rider in the last three races, and a single mistake can turn the championship on its head once again. Jorge Lorenzo looks certain to win one race, maybe more before the season is over. But it is looking more and more like that won't matter. Mat Oxley wrote recently that for Rossi to win the title, he needs "stuff" to happen. After the events at Motegi, Rossi no longer needs help from outside. The tenth title is now within reach. But the old rooster will not be counting his chickens just yet.

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Great season. I believe it's shaping out to be the Ali vs Foreman of racing. The young and unstoppable vs the old and experienced fallen out of grace. Intelligence and will vs sheer power, of two of the most talented of all time.
Dennis Noyes has noted that if Rossi wins, this season will be legendary (I think he said "the best since 1959"). Let us all hope for that.
I do think it stills needs a great direct battle between the two. If it happens at valencia this will be the best season ever, i think.

There have already been multiple direct battles. Rossi has won some, Lorenzo has won some. On balance, Valentino has done a better job so far. Why does a direct battle not count if there is a decisive winner by 4 or 6 seconds? Why does a direct battle only count if the final margin is 0.5 seconds or less?

I cant wait for the weekend. I will be down at the ISLAND and hoping for a god almighty showdown between the top four. ( Vale, Jorge, Dani, Marc). I don't care about the result much, all I want is good racing. We have not seen a proper dog fight between the top four for the win. It has always been between one another separately.

As for the championship, Jorge might decry his luck all he wants. But as Vale had put it precisely, If he believes it is luck working hard against him and not the talent of the man behind - He is missing the plot.

This might be the best season of motogp in a long long time. The rookie year of Marc was good because of the gaffes him and his team had inflicted on themselves but it wasn't entirely a good straight fight for the championship.

All i can hope is Vale comes out this season as the champion and sticks it to the 'young guns'. If he does that - he would have seen through four different generations of racers starting from - Melandri, Sete, Nicky, Dani, Stoner, Jorge and most recently Marc.

I will have to make a pilgrimage to Tavulia after this championship. End of rant.

Jorge is entitled to say that events have conspired against him lately I think. He's been clearly the strongest in dry conditions but has had mixed conditions for 3 of the last 4 races, precisely what he struggles most with. That said the title is still wide open. Jorge will need to win races but he's very strong at Phillip Island and Valencia, and it's possible Marc or Dani could take points off Rossi at those races also. On the other hand Sepang has always been one of Rossi's best tracks.

Jorge is entitled to say that events have conspired against him lately I think

Yea, except events have no will and are incapable of doing any conspiring. Events are what they are and have no favor toward one rider or malice toward another. At then end of the day, all of the riders have to deal with the same events. How they deal with those events is what decides championships.

As has been discussed on this site both in articles and comments numerous times, there is no room for "ifs" in racing. Or in life for that matter. Folksy wisdom double edition: "If my Aunt had a penis, she'd be my Uncle" or, "Try crapping into one hand and wishing into the other; see which one fills up first."

As David so rightly pointed out, if you want to blame misfortune for Lorenzo's woes, you can easily credit good fortune for him being in his current position.

Of course it would have been good fortune if the rain stayed away? For Jorge luck was with the weather. if it stayed wet bad luck if the sun came out good luck as its his prefered conditions and he cant control whether it rained or not. Man people always want to make this guy the bad guy. I thought straight after the race jorge was fantastic. Said he pushed to hard at the start. Congratulated dani and was chatty with vale. Something i dont think we would have seen from him a few years ago. Im not the biggest jorge fan in the world but it seems after every race no matter what he does people are out to judge him a littlw harshly. Any way well done dani hope this guy carries this form into next year, has a good crack and wins the 2016 championship :)

Especially here in Japan Jorge got somewhat unlucky but I don't by the .5 sec faster than Rossi. He has often been the faster, especially in training but not so much in the races. Besides, Rossi's actual race pace has been much closer to qual times. Going by those stats Rossi would have been faster in the race if it was dry on Sunday as he has been on many occasions this year.

Speed=Distance/Time, and in that equation the only distance that matters is race distance. By that standard, Lorenzo was not, as he claims, fastest today. There were two men faster. And if one of those two claims his tenth world title in the coming weeks, no one will question whether he earned it.

#99 states he's the fastest but bad luck is costing him. I beg to differ, you play the hand you are dealt which is the same condition for everyone. The fact that Rossi and Pedrosa were able to manage their tires better in the changing conditions is not down to luck but rider skill.

If the races were run on Saturday he would almost win them all but alas that is not the case. JLo used those winglets in the race which put extra downforce on the front tire at speed which increased the wearing of the front tire but he wants to blame bad luck.

Everytime he loses it's a different excuse such as visor fogging, helmet problems, tires not having edge treatment in Assen or rain falling when he is fast in the dry. Lorenzo is undeniably fast but speed isn't the only factor in a race, tactics play an important part.

Neither Rossi nor Lorenzo believe the winglets played a part, given their comical responses in the press conference.

It came up during the broadcast, and it has a certain logic to it, but I think "to blame" might be an overstatement. That said, Dovizioso's bewinged bike cooked the hell out of its front tire too, and he was never seconds ahead of the rest of the field.

I suspect that the winglets gave extra down-force early in the race which helped JLo get such good lap times. Conversely from the middle to the end on the drying track those same winglets were a hindrance providing too much downforce which caused excessive tire wear.

I always thought higher speed = higher downforce.

Speed is higher on a dry track than a wet track therefore wings would have less of an impact early in the race?

Athorn, you hit it on the head.

The race distance is however many laps there are in a race, not the first half or third of the race. The race does also not care about practice or qualifying.

The race winner is determined by the guy who completes the race distance in the shortest amount of time and Jorge was third best today. And being that Rossi is leading in points, you would have to extrapolate that into Rossi being the closest man to the winning position over the course of the year and in turn making HIM the fastest.

So where Lorenzo gets he's the fastest, who the heck knows. Probably from the media sensationalizing things when he is on. All I read is how he dominated practice this weekend, but if anything, it looked like Rossi would've been able to go with him in a dry race. Even Wilco's comments were farcical. "Fastest when grip is predictable"? Really? So it wasn't predictable in Assen, Germany, Argentina, Qatar, Austin? How convenient.

I don't even think he had the fastest lap today......

I've been thinking about that the past few rounds. Dani rode a hard but clean race in Aragon. Didn't take any overboard chances (IMO) to alter the championship.

Marquez makes me most nervous about this, but I'm sensing he too is a bit different, though his lack of patience in Aragon leads me to still worry about him a little.

I mean, if he had just waited a lap or two, he would've passed Lorenzo and cleared off.......kinda scary his impatience could've taken Lorenzo down.

Well Dani did run completely off track pushing Rossi off track as well when he passed him. I have heard folk scream for Rossi to be disqualified/banned for less, but I love Dani as well so all is forgiven.

I believe he's talking about 2006 (and it wasn't Vale but Nicky) :D :D :D :D :D

In fact Rossi let him go immediately. He knew it was smarter not to put a fight.

This was a fantastic write-up. And I suspect that Rossi has a determined focus following Lorenzo's preposterous remarks! Lorenzo is very fast, as I've said many times and would say to his face - if everything is set in a certain way. But races have many variables, and being great at a time trial is not being great in a race. So far this year, Rossi has been the fastest racer, from Qatar on.

If Lorenzo wants to talk about luck - to a man that using a harder front tire qualified .08 behind, which is not measurable by humans in the moment - he should be thanking his stars that Marquez rode like a petulant child for half of the season. Consider for a moment if Marquez hadn't crashed at various places (e.g., Argentina) while chasing Rossi...Lorenzo could easily be down 30 points or more, not the 18 that has been a righteous gift to him from the front of the Honda garage.

Lorenzo is quick, no doubt. But he's not as quick as he thinks he is (nor was he ever), and his attitude is really wearing. I think that there is a solid chance that he crashes at PI or Malaysia a la Marquez. Marquez has matured somewhat in adversity this year; I'm not convinced Lorenzo is capable at this point of that type of growth.

The championship right now seems to be 80% Rossi / 20% Lorenzo at this point.

An EPIC season whoever ends up on top, though. This one will be remembered.

Always gracious - whether in defeat or victory - Rossi shows all riders a path to peace after the flag. It is this mastery of conditions - rain, sun or press - that make every race a home race for Valentino.
Watching so many others skittle off in treacherous conditions (especially Turn 11) just emphasized the expertise of the leaders in simultaneously staying upright, managing tires, calculating lap times to within a few tenths of a second, and metering grip on a drying track.
It is indeed a season for the ages.

Everybody was on the same piece of pavement. Lorenzo fried his tires trying to run away right from the start. He said so in very clear English at the presser. Rossi was smarter and saved his tires for the rest of the race.

And remember, Rossi went to extra pains to be on the front row, with the intention of taking the fight to Lorenzo right from the start without interference from other riders. I won't say categorically that Rossi planned it all out in his head from the start, but I do believe he thought Lorenzo's pace at the beginning was too risky and Rossi believed in the long run, for the championship's sake it was better to come in 2nd than to crash in the first 5 laps.

Rossi categorically stated that he tried but could not run Lorenzo's pace early in the race. No one knew what the tires or the weather would do later in the race and sure as hell Rossi wasn't being a tactical mastermind by saving his tires. He was prepared to maintain the gap to Lorenzo and come home second if JL didn't make any mistakes.

dude, you don't seem to understand that it is not politically correct for Rossi to confess his strategies! You need to read between the lines!

People just wouldn't accept anything insulting to rossi. If you say rossi didn't had the pace to fight for first, it'll be "he was saving his tyres for the second half". If you say rossi was lucky to increase his lead because jorge destroyed his tyres, it'll be "rossi knew it beforehand that it would stop raining and jorge would get into trouble". If you say lorenzo is faster then it'll be "he is faster because he has his tyres" (in fact similar to 2013 and earlier ones). If you say rossi is lucky because in 3 races where jorge was clearly faster the race took place under mixed conditions which played to his strengths, it'll be "lorenzo is more lucky coz it has been more sunny races than wet" (max races are held under sunny weather which are NORMAL conditions but in occasional mixed conditions some are strong & some are weak).

Rossi is a better orator than jorge and more like a politician, who can win hearts whereas jorge is a blunt fellow and doesn't hesitates in speaking anything controversial. Whatever rossi does it can be justified and if he does something worth criticizing, then it is interpreted in such a way that he seems to be a holy person, not capable of wrongdoings. And jorge if he wins and simply expresses his joy. HE is "arrogant, haughty, etc".

Whatever points are stated above are not my thoughts, its the words of the largest army of fans carrying yellow flags in motoGP who are just not able to see their hero getting accused of anything. There is no objection in fandom or even blind fandom, but the hate and derogatory statements vented against others is where it gets wrong.

Rossi has admitted to Jorge just being better at Brno and a couple other rounds this year, how is that being a better politician? It was the truth and he admitted it.

Whereas, whenever Jorge does not win, he has an excuse. If you support that, then that seems to be blind fandom.

The problem is that all these racers losing to Rossi come up with excuses. Biaggi did it, Gibernau did it and now Lorenzo is doing it.

Jorge's play on luck is crazy. He has NOT been faster this year.

There is no luck over an 18 race schedule unless you are the ONLY ONE having multiple mechanical or tire failures. And 3 mixed condition races over 18 races seems pretty normal. Where I live, it rains on average about once a week, so 1 in 6 races being mixed conditions seems pretty normal to me.

I never remember Doohan, Rainey, Schwantz, Lawson or Spencer complaining about being fastest and unlucky that it rained.......Jorge's appeal seems rather pathetic truthfully.

Rossi is not being accused here, you see. The point was rossi is more like a politician who has a powerful ability to attract the masses. Many agree with them when they give thier speeches. So it was like that.

Jorge, if he is not faster then how come he has more race wins this year than rossi. He was faster than him in silverstone, misano until the race day chaos and also in the rain in motegi. Just because he is 1st means he is faster ? (Nicky hayden won 3 races and rossi 5 during 2006, still nicky won the championship and that was so because he was faster ?).

Anyways coming to luck, as you said 1 in 6 races is normal, i agree it is, but imagine if you are racing on that very day against a rider who is weaker in dry but stronger in mixed conditions than you yourself. Won't you say that you are unlucky that it rained on that very day as the race as it could have rained earlier or after and your results got hampered by the weather. Its not that rossi won the race because he was lucky, i disapprove of anyone who says so. In fact he won coz he was presented with an opportunity in which he knew he was stronger than his main rival. He was lucky with the weather

Lorenzo's statements, i do not support. I know he's a bit demented. The excuses in reality were his problems that hampered his results. Mistakes were not using breath deflector and here not managing the tyres. But at this very moment he is frustrated with having the most part done brilliantly but making silly mistakes that ultimately blows his results. If he can't calm himself he will be doing another motegi.

My abiding memory of Mick (and Foggy, same era) is that they complained even when they won, which was most of the time.

... the 'Rossi fans' thing got old about 15 years ago.

The bias comes from all fans of all riders, they (we?) are all as bad as one another and to throw a blanket over one consortium of fans and not another is probably the blindest action of them all.

You got some points, I agree that Jorge in no way cooked his tires because of his pace in the first say 5 laps. It was still (close to) all wet and the tires would have taken that for another 20 laps. And Rossi got lucky to pass him in this race.
However, that Lorenzo is much faster is a myth created by him and the journalists including David. When you look at race day times he is not. Even if Lorenzo have had 5 runaway victories he is not faster than rossi when you look at fastest laps over the season. Or at least he wasn't last time I saw the numbers.
Another thing is that Rossi is able to maintain a race pace much closer to his QP time than Jorge. With .08 in difference in QP between the two, who do you think would have been the faster one on a dry race?

You put way to much into practice times. That Lorenzo was faster there means in no way that he is faster come race day.
For every time you see Jorge being called arrogant I'll find a dozen where Rossi is called the same. The matter of fact they all are to a certain degree, maybe except Hayden.
Jorge don't have any charm, even in Spain he is unloved, while Rossi got tons of it. But they are both arrogant, and I like that in a multi WC.

One thing you must consider if you say such things like "rossi is able to maintain his race pace close to his QP times". That is rossi's QP times are good for 2nd & 3rd row majority of times, and jorge's times are far more closer to the best lap of the circuit, and in fact he has the record in many circuits. So according to you rossi's race pace is close to his QP times, and that is why he is faster than JORGE. Now imagine if jorge's race pace is close to his QP times, then he will be winning every race with a 8 to 10 sec margin. Impossible to run that Qp times in race. Rossi can do so simply because his Qp times are slow enough to closely match in the race.

If you compare race fastest laps then both rossi & lorenzo has had 4 fastest laps each. Jorge does not require the fastest lap of the race to win races. As dovizioso said after mugello his fastest laps are not amazing but he can keep up the same lap times very easily and that makes the difference. Many journalists including our DAVID EMMETT believes jorge is faster in the dry than valentino and that is true if you simply see the dry race victories. Race wins speaks the true story and are rarely down to luck.

I'm not sure your first paragraph really made any sense if we're basing things on imagination?

Believe what you want, but there is no luck this year for anyone.

But, there is an 18 point lead. Believe in that, it's there for a reason. And luck has nothing to do with it.

It was for someone else who made a point and according to his point i replied in the same manner stating the same circumstances which was logical. By the way, there was nothing said about luck. What i said was to describe his point, its not that i am imagining things first-hand myself and putting it here.

Lorenzo is going on about luck.

He's done. No champion talks like that, only the first loser does.

The video repeatedly showed Dani and Valentino getting off the dry line when they could to keep the tires cooling, Lorenzo never did.

That's smart racing.

You got beat by smarter people, kid.

Precisely. To his credit, Lorenzo has to bring up 'luck.' He has to explain away the fact that he is getting beaten. He has to come up with a reason other than himself for losing. Conceding defeat is a mental end game that he can't afford to play.

But, seriously - when he brought up 'luck' in the press conference, I thought - how classless? What a sore loser. Want to talk about luck? How about 2010? Rossi suffers a shoulder injury, followed by a broken leg. What about 2012? Stoner injured at Indy, followed by Dani crashing out after starting from the back of the grid due to a stuck tire warmer on the sighting lap, followed by a crash in PI. Luck!?!?!?! Racing is racing. I have heard Nicky Hayden talk about how Toni Elias is his boy for unwittingly managing to take Rossi out of an early race in 2006. Elias would then 'luck upon' a set of race special tires in Estoril that Dani Pedrosa didn't want to help him pip Rossi to the line. Then Rossi crashing in the final race of the season crowning Hayden the champion, having only won 3 races that year. I have never once heard Rossi on the contrary say that he 'lost the championship because Hayden was lucky.' Champions are champions. End of story. They won more in that season. Period. They did better than the rider in second. Period. In an ideal world... bla bla bla. I'm the fastest rider with my tires, in the dry, with an unobstructed track... bla bla bla. 'The line was drying'... I'm an armchair racer and I know that even beginning level racers are conscious of the need to leave the dry racing line whenever possible to cool deteriorating rain tires. Tire conservation is every part of racing just as pulling a gap in the first 3 laps of the race and flexing the fastest single race lap time.

But Jorge HAS to come up with a reason. He HAS to. Otherwise he will have to start to doubt himself and he can't afford to do that. Honestly, for the sake of the last 3 races, I hope that he keeps this 'unlucky but I'm clearly still the fastest' narrative up (in his head that is - it's all worthless if he is just selling a story to the press). He has to believe it.

Rossi's and Stoner's injuries in 2010 and 2012 had nothing to do with luck. They crashed and hurt themselves because of their own doings. This also applies to Lorenzo 2013, when he broke his collar bone twice, missed a race and still came within 4 points of winning the championship. Same with his training accident a few weeks ago where he hurt his shoulder.

External factors such as weather and visor however ARE a matter of chance (or luck, as some call it), with the rider having no say in it.

Regarding 2006 season, Rossi was the fastest. But the fastest doesn't always win the championship. Just like Lorenzo is the fastest this year but might not win the championship.

Being fastest and being the champion are not always the same thing, although the fastest mostly wins the championships (Rossi in most of the 2000s, Stoner 2007/2011, Lorenzo 2010/2012, Marquez 2014 etc).

Totally agree with you ayush. You know one thing that people are forgetting here. Rossi is the hero and lorenzo is the villain. So whatever be the case, people always cheer for the hero, no matter how much the villain tries to be the hero. He will be criticised, however, at this point of time being the fastest every now and then and just coming short of the goal seems to be irritating a lot lorenzo. With the flyaways to decide the title and the changing topography, extensive travel, conditions, and the pressure of championship with lorenzo doing the hardest part right, but making a silly mistake on the way is costing him a lot. This is the main reason that often humble lorenzo is giving such statememts. Its not totally correct, but when you lose everytime because of a silly mistake and a little bad luck with the hardest part being done perfectly. It freaks you out. I hope he relaxes and just takes a calm approach to the next race as being aggressive with anger will surely cost him again.

Quite conveniently, you've left out that the visor fogging up is NOT a matter of "chance" when you've chosen not to use a breath deflector.........I mean seriously, he was the ONLY rider to have the problem. His own doing as you say.

Also, there is a huge difference between 2006 and 2015. In 2006 Rossi was taken out by Elias in the first race. He also had a few mechanical DNFs and a tire chunk as I recall.

Now that is bad luck. Regardless, he came back to lead in points and then binned it in Valencia.

Jorge has none such "luck" this season.

Sorry Beaufort it was the year before then he had 3 or maybe 4 wins... Th funny thing about all those 2nds is that he was only racing Dani. Rossi was on the duke and casey injured so for the most part they were the worst possible result for an alien. I also don't remember him being able to see Dani in the distance in any of them so he was hardly putting up a fight, though maybe I got one wrong. The numbers can be just as bad even when their right :-)

However I do think there is an element of luck even when a rider causes their own crash. All riders will crash by pushing too hard at some stage during a season, they wouldn't be racers if they didn't. But the consequences of the crash can be small or drastic, even very similar accidents can have opposite results. 2013 was a good example of this. Marquez crashed around 15 times throughout the season with no injury, Jorge crashed about 4 times and broke his collar bone twice and ended up losing the title by 4 points.

External factors like visor? How is that, is the wisor something god hold in front of the rider so to not get rain and wind in their face or is it something the rider and his team maintain and prep for all different wether conditions.
External factors like weather? Is this an indoor sport where the roof sudenly blew off and expose the riders for the unknown factor "weather"? If not what is "lucky" about it?
You could just as well argue that the tires had changed rapidly and become extreemly sensitive to heat and a "slow" lap (10 sec faster than what anyone here could do) caused so much loss of heat that they lost their grip. Was it not more or less coincidental that Rossi had to be one of the few that had to learn this the hard way before they all realized this.

Before you answere, no I don't think it was pure unluck, but sure as hell Jorges visors werent either. In fact it got absolutly NOTHING with chance to do. It was all up to him to get a breath deflector and a pinlock in there, not a single strand of chance there. I would rather claim that most accidents have a strong factor of chance in them. Handling visors and weather are much less up to chance. You can prepare for both.

Besides, I doubt Lorenzo is the fastest. Last time I saw numbers he wasn't the one with the most fastest laps in races over this season, Rossi was.

I guess I'm inhabiting an alternate multiverse to you and 99bunny. Hayden was only victorious at Laguna Seca and Assen in my universe. Where did his third victory occur in yours?

Nicky has 3 victories but that year (2006) he had 2, just forgot that. Thanxx

Another brilliant write-up!! The metaphors just get better and better David! :-)

Keep up the great work. Motomatters.com is the definitive motogp online resource. No longer do I have to bother with translating Italian media when the MM write-up tells me everything I need to know week in, week out.

Bravo Sir, bravo!!

Good job David, I have a small remark though concerning Dani's weight and its effect on the tires. In your pod cast the other day you guys were defending the no combined weight limit stating there were no real significant advantages. I disagree I think larger riders are at a definite disadvantage do to fuel restrictions and other things like tire wear. Why doesn't Moto GP have a combined weight as does Formula one and everyone else. It seems so logical I don't get it.

I think a fairer option would just be to give them sufficient fuel for the heavier riders. Given no one is running out, it seems that is the case, they're also getting more fuel next year?

Sure, more weight = marginally more fuel consumption, but more weight also means that the rider can adjust the weight distribution better to try prevent wheelie, keep the bike more upright, etc.

David wrote multiple excellent pieces on this subject over the years. If you look at the stats, there is no reason to believe smaller/lighter riders have an advantage since over the years they simply have not won any more than bigger riders. Part of this probably has to do with the fact that the weight bigger riders are carrying is not dead weight, for a big part it is muscle. Their taller statures and more muscle make it easier tho wrestle a MotoGP bike around. This could balance out the disadvantages.
Ofcourse there is a point when weight does come into play. A 35kg midget will never be competitive, neither will a 120kg body builder. Where the limits are we don't know, but probably the scale of competitiveness lies somewhere between Dani Pedrosa and Loris Baz ;)

If dani had to carry extra weight he'd have a heavier bike to manhandle than Marquez, which surely can't be fair. And what would be the right approach for the big lads like Baz and Redding? The diet of a supermodel?

I think its fine as it is. What dani gains through lightness he loses through lesser strength and mass.

In the podcast, I was trying to give the official explanation for why there is no combined rider/weight limit. My opinion is slightly different, in that I agree that the situation is complicated by the imposition of fuel limits. Personally, I would like to see the fuel limits lifted, but it has always been a demand from the factories to have them, providing them with a technical challenge to pursue.

The one thing you have to bear in mind when thinking about a combined weight rule is that currently, the MotoGP bikes can't even use all of the power they have at their disposal. They simply do not have the mechanical grip to be able to get the power on the road, and so they have to cut power during acceleration. Although heavier riders suffer from greater fuel use, they do have an advantage in creating grip.

Motegi is perhaps the one circuit where lighter riders have a real advantage due to the fuel regulations. The track is the heaviest on fuel, and uses some of the softest tires, meaning it is not particularly aggressive on tire use. Being light at Motegi makes a difference. I would like to see either the bikes being allowed an extra liter of fuel, or the race shortened by a lap. They did that at Sepang a couple of years ago (not to save fuel, but to prevent the riders from heat exhaustion in the tropical climate), and since then, that has improved the racing, and made the field fairer. 

Next year, everyone gets 22 liters of fuel, and so it changes again. It will be interesting to see how everyone handles it, especially given the fact that there will be spec electronics. It should not be a real problem, however.

... maybe i'm just getting jaded, but that reads to me as "a technical barrier for less well funded teams".

I don't think anyone wants to see bikes running around on fuel saving at the end of the race.

I think it's just the factories wanting to find a way to guarantee they are more competitive than satellite or privateer teams. Due to so many other regulations, the number of ways they can guarantee a competitive advantage is being reduced.

Personally i can't wait until the fuel limit is raised, as it will give teams with less massive ECU/tuning budgets a bit more of a chance.

And yeah, when you've got way more power than you can put to the ground like they do, fuel consumption is probably the only real disadvantage to extra rider weight other than perhaps increased brake wear/stress.

Great write up. Lorenzo rode a blistering pace first half of the race that Rossi had no answer for. Championship is far from over, but it sure is better for VR to be 18 points ahead than 5 or 9 or 10.

The stress certainly does seem to catching up to both riders. MM is going to desperately want to win another race this year, and Pedrosa is in top form. I will be surprised if JL wins more than one of the last three races, and who knows VR may pull another victory out of the hat.

What a Cinderella season for VR. Part of me thinks if he wins this championship he should retire on top, but a bigger part wants to see how he will do with the new tires next year and if he can win 11.

With the exception of some comments or actions that deserve to be criticised I hope that the general consensus of fans doesn't become anti-Lorenzo. (Or any more if it already is?)

When Stoner was having brilliant seasons there came a point that every article, every commentator and pundit would constantly say "Who is finishing second?" It was repeated over and over that no one could get near him and it magnified a lot of things he would say. He had a focus on negative's when interviewed for whatever reason anyway but the comments became overblown amongst general fans. I think this was a contribution to his unpopularity with the bigger audience.

As people who watch the races we know that no rider is going to dominate every single weekend and we know that the race is what counts regardless of practice and qualifying, they give a very good idea but no guarantees.

I used to find myself tired of Stoner without having seen anything of him on some weekends and it was nothing to do with him. Hearing over and over that Lorenzo is unbeatable in the dry when it isn't true of this season starts to grate in a similar way.

The difference for me between now and seven years ago is that I mostly tune the commentators out partly for this reason. It becomes annoying hearing the same inaccurate comments and sometimes the name most being mentioned becomes the face of the frustration.

This isn't a comment about this article, just something I've been thinking about as Lorenzo is starting to throw some questionable remarks out there and how it can bring up frustrations from other sources and change peoples perception of some one.

... on the whole people will have already made their mind up on Jorge by now, he's been on the MotoGP grid what 8 years?

You can see it in the journalism on all the top riders to be honest... each one has a generic template you see on nearly every site.

"Imperious/Untouchable Lorenzo..."

"The experience of Rossi..."

"The natural talent of Marc/Casey..."

"Dani Pedro... Who? Ah... Lorenzo/Rossi/Marc/Casey did this..."

It's all very predictable and predetermined as we have had the same guys at the top for so long now, it isn't a criticism of anyone, but I don't see people turning on Jorge now any more than they did in the past.

I find it incredible that every comment made by Lorenzo is taken with a huge negative bias and everything that Rossi says is interpreted in the best possible way by most of the "fans".

What Lorenzo said : "Also in the rain I was very fast, but unfortunately the track dried up and my push at the beginning of the race probably made my tyre a bit worse than Valentino‘s and Dani‘s."

- He was fast in the rain (fact, backed up by laptimes).
- Track dried up (also fact, could be seen visibly)
- tire worse than the two in front (also fact as seen at the end of the race)

"When the track was almost dry, my front tyre was destroyed and I couldn't ride like before."

- Acknowledging his own shortcoming.

Lorenzo demonstrated that he had a stronger dry running and wet running pace than the others (FP4, QP and race) and acknowledged his inability to keep up with changing conditions (which is out of everyone's control). He said nothing which was not factually correct and admitted his weaknesses. AND STILL, I see people grilling him left, right and center.

All in the meanwhile where Rossi gets credit for "saving his tires" at the start, when he said he was pushing at the start but Lorenzo was a bit faster and he couldn't go with him.

I'm not asking people to become Lorenzo fans and leave the Rossi camp, but some level of impartiality would be nice.

You can pick parts out of his interviews that are indeed fair and balanced, but on this occasion, he has said a lot more than just your little snippet.

The comments regarding luck and data sharing on this occasion seem to come in poor taste and are actually pretty disrespectful towards Rossi's 2015 campaign.
It's not about being bias here, it's about etiquette and decency, Lorenzo seems to have lost that at this stage of the season, that is what people are talking about, it is far from a crucify Lorenzo situation.

Personally I understand Jorge's frustrations, but he is venting them in the wrong manner IMO.

As for data sharing, Lorenzo said that Rossi is currently benefiting more with it than him, which is a bad deal for him. BUT he also mentioned that he still thinks that data sharing should continue because it's better for the team. That is the part of his statement that people forget (or choose to ignore?).

Rossi then said that Lorenzo benefited from it more in 2008/2009, which is also completely true. However, rather than letting it continue back in the day, Rossi put up a wall, threw a tantrum and showed way more disrespect than "Rossi benefits more than me" can ever imply.

I saw the Yellow army defending Rossi then and I see the yellow army doing a 360 and defending him now while making Lorenzo the villian. I mean, I absolutely agree that Lorenzo's complaints sound like whining some of the times, but most of the times he is absolutely on point. His only mistake is that he voices his opinions more freely than people are used to and that he's not Rossi.

People always forget about rossi's wrong acts but is always searching for lorenzo's to criticize and to extol rossi. At motegi whatever lorenzo adopted as his strategy was paying off until the conditions began to change and there only lorenzo forgot to change his strategy to suit the conditions. This wrong costed him heavily. And he vented his frustration. So if you judge on his statements, he was moaning unnecessarily, but if you see the whole story its not wrong, its human nature. Many others would have said the same if they were in their situation.


I hear you. When listening to JL for a long time I thought he was just an arrogant SOB, but I believe now he just states what he thinks goes on in the race from his point of view and really no filter. I doubt he realized he was disrespecting VR with the luck comments. If one can step back a bit and view it like a friend venting, it's actually informative and refreshing. No need for us to be hard on Jorge, he is is own harshest critic.

After a race VR is generally a happy man, in his element. That is his appeal. He loves being a motorcycle racer. That he is GOAT is just icing on the cake. Jorge needs to find the joy in racing again. I wish him well.

Rossi gets credits for
- not moaning about the circumstances, they were the same for everyone
- admitting he was not able to run with Lorenzo's pace in the beginning but that was partially because of Lorenzo's shortsightedness on not accommodating for the change in weather
- being humble about his 2nd place finish (he was gracious in defeat even at Aragon) which Lorenzo is generally not. Remember Lorenzo lamenting about Rossi's hard racing style in Motegi 2010 and actually taking it up with YAMAHA management post which YAMAHA issued a warning to Rossi. Can you believe that? Can you think of Rossi doing the same?
- and finally, finishing ahead of Lorenzo in the race!

Why was Lorenzo's tire worse at the end? Circumstance? I guess not.
- perhaps his setting
- perhaps his riding style
- his outrageous pace at the beginning and lack of foresight (which is amazing for a rider of his experience in MotoGP)
- not being able to cool off the tire during the race by modifying the line to cover some wet patches which Rossi and Pedrosa were trying to do
- winglets (just kidding)

People are grilling him because he is blaming luck for the championship. Changing circumstance is out of his or any other rider's control but managing that changing circumstance is as much in his control as any other rider's and that is what makes a complete racer. He has further raised concerns about sharing data in the team and that it has benefited Rossi more than him. How does he know? Maybe it is the other way around? There are no ifs and buts in racing, there are circumstances and you have to be the fastest rider in managing those. Not just being able to smack out perfect few fast laps in perfect dry conditions. Which rider says, "I am the fastest one this year but the circumstances don't help at the moment".

I would love to see a rider who has all the characteristics (and character) of a true champion like Rossi. MM shows that promise but JL does not, he definitely has improved though though the years. And when (if) he does become a champion of the stature of Rossi, he will get the same level of respect.

dude, Lorenzo has its own merits and a personality which is very different from that of Rossi. If people love Rossi and cheer more for him it is because he makes us feel good; even when he's losing he is charismatic and fun to watch.

Rossi is very smart when it comes to speaking and commenting, Lorenzo is not! Lorenzo wants to fight the world and he is a perfectionist...

For sure Valentino Rossi preserved his tyres. Rossi knows Jorge Lorenzo better than anybody else and if Rossi was 28, he would make sure that Lorenzo is not going to win another GP again!

If you look at the difference between QP and race times they have in average this year, Rossi should clearly be the faster in this race if it was dry. Practice is not race and neither you, Lorenzo or 99% of the journos make the "Jorge is the fastest" more true as long as it is just theories based on practice.
I'm among those that defend Jorge as his pace was the strongest at the start and everyone else tried but failed to keep up with him. Absolutely no tire management there. But if David is right about Pedrosa and Rossi trying to go for wet patches while Lorenzo stayed on the dry line when drying up he kind of created his own misery and that could not be called bad luck.
His talk about sharing data, being fastest bla bla bla is just frustration shining through as he obviously had a shot at the top spot on these races and not at all reaching that goal. These guys are very seldom good losers and IMHO they should not either. The exception is Hayden and Rossi if he had a really good fight for a spot.
Lorenzo without Rossi's charm will always come out sour and a lot of people dislike him for that. Thats racing ;)

Say bad luck is due to frustation and just a figure of speech. With 3 race to go, lorenzo must be feel the heat.

..... or did Rossi look as worn out as Lorenzo's front tyre?!? can't remember having seen him look like that after a race before, and certainly looked more worn out than the Dani or Jorge.

It may have been just those couple of minutes after removing his helmet, but absolutely. He looked pretty shagged.
Does seem like a longer race though, and with all the goings on with the track and bikes. Maybe the tiny injury just had a slight effect over the race distance.

One thing I did notice was the steel discs glowing in the daylight. I was wondering if that was where Dani was making up lots of time compared to the rest. Lighter weight meaning he is a bit easier on brakes, especially as they had the reduced diameter steel discs (in comparison to the big carbon ones) and the track was drying out. Seems like a recipe for brake issues, especially at this circuit.

Based on his voice and his eyes, I'm thinking maybe he's coming down with something. I hope not!

....the problem with a legend going for his 10 WC and another champion blaming luck (!) ... is that it doesn't put the spotlight where it should be.

Dani Pedrosa smoked both of them, with better judgement and riding with no mistakes. Period. Surely the two M1s are racing one each other ... and that is not the best tactic to win a race.... but the fastest man of Motegi 2015 is not the Spaniard praised by many or Wilco. They race on Sunday not in FP or for just five laps or in the media. And on Sunday, same track, same weather, Dani+HRC turns out to be the fastest bike at the end of the race.

Having said that, it's a fantastic year despite still missing the direct clash. If that happens it will be the cherry on the cake.

How did Dani show better judgement? He didn't push at the start of the race because he didn't have a good feeling from the soft rear he chose to go with at the last minute. He thus preserved his tyres at the beginning not through judgement but through circumstance. The M1s are racing each other for the championship, not for a race. Clearly, they have different thingss to weigh up than Pedrosa.

Add to that Danis feather weight and a bike that pushes the front less.
I'm happy for Dani but to pretend this victory was due to his superior judgement is hilarious. This was a victory created great riding and circumstances, and not by smoking or judgment.

'if you're not for me you're against me'

This has less to do with skills on a motorcycle and is more akin to a psychological war between the protagonists.

Lorenzo is just doing what he and his circle need to do to stay in the game- I'm the fastest, I'm the best etc.

He has to do this to combat Rossi's time proved strategy of getting into a rivals head which was amply demonstrated at the weekend by shadowing Lorenzo in Q2 and making sure Lorenzo didn't get into the first corner in the lead.

These are all markers designed to niggle Lorenzo into making a mistake e.g. burning his tyres up quickly in changing conditions; classic Rossi. It doesn't matter who is fastest on any given weekend, this is a war being raged when riders are lying awake at night and when they get up in the morning which will repeat every day until a champion is crowned.

Fascinating stuff, don't get caught in the hype by picking sides, just enjoy two of the best motorcyclists ever slugging it out for another three races.

Charisma. Projecting positivity instead of negativity.

Not everyone has it and not everyone can recognize or appreciate it.

Rossi has it but Lorenzo, Stoner and many other wonderful riders over the years don't or didn't. It is the reason why Rossi has been the de facto emissary of the MotoGP series for so long and Marquez the heir apparent.

Rossi and Marquez (for example) accept the reality that nothing is perfect and that there are things beyond anyone's control. It gives them the strength and insight to forge ahead when things don't go their way while allowing them to own up to their own mistakes without feeling like it takes away from their worth.

Lorenzo just doesn't seem comfortable accepting those facts and is possibly what drove him to become one of the best. When things go wrong, he needs to assign fault and try to excuse the imperfections. No one likes a complainer or whiner and the attitude comes across negatively. No one feels the same connection or empathy towards negative sounding people like they do with positive/charismatic sounding people. Its a fact of life.

In any case, regardless of his negativity and lack of charisma, JL has been able to defeat the best riders of his day enough to win two MotoGP world championships so far. To say he is not on par with them over a career is to ignore facts. If he wins this year's title, it will be in spite of himself. For Rossi, it will always be because of himself; because he never blamed anything or anyone for his misfortunes, miscalculations or mishaps.

I empathize with JL and so I am a fan, but how the hell can anyone not be behind the geezer politician that is Rossi taking it at his age? This might be his last chance if the exhausted look on his face at the end of the race is any indication. lol

I will be smiling and cheering either way (but a little louder if JL takes it) but even more so if Marquez and Pedrosa are able to stick their nose into it over the last 3 rounds. Ianonne too but I kind of gave up on Ducati being a factor in races when their concessions were changed mid-season (despite Ianonne's recent form).

Last but not least - don't forget these guys (and gals) are human with human failings and frailties. Fingers crossed that Alex de Angelis survives and recovers to live out the rest of his life ... on or off the track. The news on him is not too inspiring to me. :-(

Everybody seems to forget that last year Jlo was defeated by VR. This year up to this point is also behind him. 18 pointd behind exactly. I don't understand how he can say "I am the fastest....". He is beaten by a better man. Simple as that. Last two years it was MM who was the best, this year up to this point it is VR. I remember Jeremy Burgess once said about Dani Pedrosa "it's shame for such a fast rider to be a such poor racer" . For me that explains everything. Moto gp is not just about pure speed. There are many other things that makes it like tactics, consistensy, menaging conditions, battle skills etc. There is the way to measure this things also called points. Who got the most of them he is the best. Last race JL was 3th best, in this championship he is 2nd best uo.to this point. Call it a luck, or a bad luck or anything ellse is idiotism. Everyone has the same track, the same conditionsas he did, I don't remember anyone ellse called it a luck, bad luck o
r what so ever...

If you look at margins of victory over each other discounting Lorenzo's bad "luck" at Misano......

Both have crossed the line 7 times ahead of each other.

When Rossi crossed the finish line first, he has done so in about 44.5 seconds less time than Lorenzo.

When Lorenzo crossed the finish line first, he has done so in about 41.2 seconds less time than Rossi.

Rossi owns the largest time gap in beating Lorenzo by 14.5 seconds at Assen.

Seems to me the fastest rider is leading the championship. And that is simply because races are won on Sundays.

It seems to me some fellas in here seem to focus too much on what others think about Lorenzo. If that is to be focused on, then that part of the discussion should also be about having the right attitude.
It certainly is more a case for Psychology then for the matters discussed on this website. Obviously unrelated with the racing (and should be unrelated) but interesting regardless.

Having the right attitude is important for every living human being, especially in an environment where space is shared with others. Even more important when you happen to appear in front of millions of people every two weekends.
They're specialists, professionals (and now athletes) in this motorsport. But, the truth is, they're humans just like you and me (supposedly) when they're not riding.

Everyone tends to wear a "mask" when faced with public. That is undeniable. How you wear that mask, and how that mask sometimes falls (showing a trully different person behind it) may pull our perceptions to different directions.
We tend to pick and focus on small things, from the riders "personas", and sometimes that makes or breaks your favoritism towards this and that rider. It's just part of our nature, as humans.

Riders like D.Pedrosa, C.Stoner, A.Dovizioso (and W.Rainey, and E.Lawson, and M.Doohan, both K.Roberts Sr. and Jr.) never went for the "got to look nice, got to play nice" and therefore never felt like distributing the wrong vibe (to me anyway). They always had this "I don't care" or "let's get on with it" stance. Meaning, while that didn't make them look "nice", it did make them look natural, genuine, as they are. Therefore much more easily accepted.

J.Lorenzo often comes across as not having the right attitude (IMHO). When he tries to, it's awkward, it doesn't seem to come up naturally. He seems tense and "forced" all the time. Like trying to be a person he isn't, not genuine.
Over the years we've seen little things from Lorenzo, such as juvenile temper tantrums with members of his team, be it regarding equipment (gloves, suits, etc), even the very rare blunt gesture (if slightly unpolite) towards the umbrella girl that stands right on his side.
Then we've had his theatrical post-race win antics (like imitating Rossi), which felt somewhat "wrong" and forced (unlike Rossi's). Cringeworthy stuff.
And when something wrong happens, it seems as if "the universe was against me", like the fault is never his. Yesterday his post-race conference came across as "I'm the best but the problem is bad luck" (...really?). Noone likes that.
Yes, everyone of them seems to put a "mask" for the cameras but, at least to me, I get a wrong vibe from Jorge's.

Compare all that to V.Rossi's, who comes up as a lot more natural and genuine at that (even in the worst moments) and you have a really huge contrast.
Yes, he's a natural "people person", how he interacts with the whole team, the public and even the media. It favours him, undoubtfully.
But, and at the end of it, even if you never ever cared about Rossi's antics, his funny acts, his (rightfully?) cheeky stance towards some rivals (the Biaggi scenes) or his "persona", you do have to admire his attitude. How he never blamed anything or anyone else when he lost a championship (or a race). Gracious even in defeat. Most of all, he always seems to be genuinely enjoying himself.
That makes all the difference.

Lorenzo is just a sore loser, nothing more to it than that. He makes excuses when he doesn't meet his target for the day and he stomps off after a race, right through the back of the garage. Each rider deals with defeat differently.

Cracks are appearing in that garage on one side. There is whining about telemetry and data sharing, whining about being followed also. Marquez was getting followed last year or the year before and got annoyed with it. They asked Valentino about this and he said something to the effect of every single rider has followed him over the years.

Now Lorenzo is on about luck and the weather.....again. I'm thinking one more race finishing behind Valentino and there is going to be fireworks. Standing on his bike imitating a shark with his hand shows he is tired of Rossi and it is getting to him. Pressure is building. Misano, Motegi, both intense races under difficult conditions. Both times poor racecraft/strategy by the rider. If the last three races are perfectly dry then Lorenzo still has a good chance at pulling this off. But the race track, like life, is far from perfect.

What blows my mind is that not too many races ago Lorenzo was pondering sacking Forcada. Ramon and his mechanics have been superb this year, as always.. Pulling the bike off the truck and nailing setup immediately with only fine tuning needing to be done over the weekend. I find this fascinating because in that side of the garage Forcada is Miyagi. If he can get into his rider's head and get him to deal he's still got a good chance at the trophy.

Great to see Dani scorching once again, using his weight to his advantage. I think some folks also wrote him off. If anything these guys are some of the most resilient athletes in any sport. Men walking with plates and pins in their bodies, still not wanting to walk away. I wouldn't mind seeing Pedrosa finally getting one of these trophies before he hangs them up. He is a totally different rider, and man, than he was in 2006.

Given the state of the Michelin tyre and the form Pedrosa is in. Here's my prediction for 2016. Dani WC.

It was great to see Pedrosa win a race. He looked very, very happy.

I don't see Lorenzo as a sore loser so much as baffled. He just tells it unfiltered like he sees it. He was faster in the dry, faster in the wet, and still loses. What can it be but luck.

Remember, that is the post race press conference where he has not really had time to properly process the events of the race. I expect he will come out with a more PC statement about VR & luck in coming days.

I think Rossi will be out as focused as we have ever seen him for Phillips Island. I'm thinking pole position and a win on a dry track focused, leaving the Championship all but sewn up.

Lets see.

The rain had stopped before MotoGP

He goes his normal "flat out" on a continuously drying line

His front tyre gets shagged

He cant ride as fast with a shagged front tyre

Thats not luck. Thats not reading the situation and hoping he will make it to the end before everything does.

Compared to rossi and dani who did not go out as fast. Whether by choice or by their bikes/riding limiting the speed - but rossi is normally not fast in the beginning and dani used to be, but not so much now.

Both spend their time riding across the wet parts of the track, which slows themselves down as well - less perfect lines - but indicate they are thinking about the entire race and the weather conditions they are presented with.

Danis front tyre stayed good and was performing fantastically and won. Rossi had a shagged front tyre but managed the condition well enough to catch his team mate and pass him.

Neither of these are luck either.

By claiming bad luck, Jorge is denying culpability, its not his fault.

But it is.

He chose to risk it all by going as hard as possible from the beginning to crush everyone. Works well so often. But by choosing this approach he created a problem for himself, one that he has admitted he is not good at.

If it was dry, he would have (likely) won using the same plan.
If it was fully wet, he would have (likely) won using the same plan.
But it wasn't, and he selected a plan that did not work. He risked a lot in the hopes he would make it.

Choice, not luck, produced this outcome.

Or perhaps everything could be explained away after the fact. Fogerty used to complain about bad luck when Kocinski was kicking his butt.

JL is better than that. I don't know if it's his strategy to sound weak in front jf your opponent or just bad judgment. He's only seasoning Rossi's steak right now. Making the title more delicious.


but is it really??
In qatar JL was Fast but even befor his HJC issue VR was faster, and in different pictures i couldnt really tell what the problem was for JL.

Then a wet race where JL helmet had fog....HJC had told JL to use his other helmet but JL didnt.!

the other half wet race VR was again faster but JL didnt listen to enter the pit and kept on riding behind a faster VR and when he did he was hasty and fell.

this half wet race JL must have know it would get dry as it wasnt raining anymore but he kept on pushing really hard the only rider doing 1.54 and didnt cool his tires.

So it has nothing to do with luck...for sure next year it wil rain also.

But i think its hard for JL to say......Im not thinking or dont listen........

I thought charisma was defined as@

"MASS NOUN] Compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others:"

You seem to be suggesting it is positivity by definition. There can be very charismatic villains and they can be so, for example, exploiting hatred.

One need not be a jolly Rossi type to be charismatic.

I agree with you. Some of the most evil people are the most charismatic though I don't fancy those types too much. I like JL because of his dogged determination.

In this case, I was limiting myself to the scope of Rossi vs. Lorenzo and not really trying to define the word itself. What I meant to come across was that I believe in the case of Rossi, his positivity is what makes him a more likable character even if inside, they share similar feelings on situations.

To use the example of another poster's comment:

"Cracks are appearing in that garage on one side. There is whining about telemetry and data sharing, whining about being followed also."

Rossi did the same exact thing regarding Lorenzo and data sharing back in 2010 (behind closed doors w/ Yamaha) but I don't recall anyone ever bringing it up or banging on about it as being a whiner. Why? I can only imagine it is because he is better liked than JL is. Also, Rossi would never show his displeasure about it publicly. That is a key point. JL answers truthfully and wears his feelings on his sleeve so he is chastised about it. He does come off as a complainer so what can he expect?

In any case, the perfect example and contrast to these two protagonists is the reaction to the pole battle results. Rossi joked about having lost it by "thismuch" while JL couldn't help himself from focusing on the fact that Rossi followed him on his first out lap. Probably based on the idea that were it not for that, Rossi would not have been able to get up to speed in time to secure 2nd and gaining an unfair (in his mind) advantage for the race.

If the situation were reversed, Rossi would have probably joked at the fact that he beat him despite having served as the hare. Maybe turn up at the next race with a rabbit on his helmet. Meanwhile, in private he may have felt similarly but we would never know. He knows he can't do anything about it so why complain or dwell on it. That attitude has served him well over the years.

I see Rossi very much as a politician and would never ever play poker with him as I am sure I would lose my shirt. Lorenzo on the other hand ... when are we playing? I need an M1 in my garage! lol

I can't really believe that Lorenzo is so dim as to sincerely believe he deserves to win these races. I think the luck thing must be an attempt to rile Rossi. The only conclusion Lorenzo can reasonably draw from this year's championship is that his inability to adapt is a serious shortcoming that is likely to cost him a championship.

Monday's El Mundo said he had erred in strategy. Monday's Marca said it rains where and when Rossi wants it to. I guess depending on what media Lorenzo reads, he will get that luck thing reinforced but I would expect that he will take stock of this over the summer and come back a better, more adaptable rider in 2016 if he loses to Rossi this year.

Marca ran some stats that showed that normally the rider who leads over the most laps in the championship is also the champion, but not always. There have been five occasions in the modern era when this hasn't been the case, with Marquez's 2013 win and Hayden"/ 06 one being two of them. Rossi is reported to have said that he deserved the 06 title more than Hayden. If he wins this year, he may have to revise that opinion. So far, not including Motegi, Lorenzo has led 204 laps to Rossi's 50. Rossi is likely to end up winning fewer races than Lorenzo this year but if he takes the championship, it will be because this year he was exactly what Hayden was in 06: the most consistent rider.

For those Rossi fans among you consumed by Lorenzo hatred, this video from 2013 should put things in perspective:

This new criteria seems like a red herring muddying the waters. The guy who leads the the first 3 laps of a a 1500 meters track race doesn't get any credit for his pace-making. It's the guy who breaks the tape first who gets the winner's laurels.

People been smoking recently?

It looks to me that people are reaching for the default 'Rossi fans hate [Insert Rider] Button' on an occasion when there really has been nothing said?

Where is this hatred you speak of? You don't like Jorge being criticised, but really, stop fabricating garbage to deflect attention.

Not that it matters a lot, but I believe that the following sentence regarding Pedrosa is not accurate

"He had not liked the feel from the hard rear on his sighting lap, and so switched to the soft rear on the grid."

My understanding is that Pedrosa felt good on the hard rear and changed to a soft rear because everyone chose the soft and he wanted to be on equal footing. Because the soft tyre was new and unscrubbed, his feeling on the soft was then not good from the warm-up lap [he does say sighting but he means warm-up] and explains why he was slow to build up his pace.

That's quite easy to confirm since it's the first thing Pedrosa says in the press conference.

Does he not go on to say that in the first few laps he didn't feel confident on it and so did not push?

On the weekend by .080 of a second.

He did not need to say what he did in the presser, far more poor judgement than his race strategy.

I think Mat Oxley actually has it backwards. It seems that in order for Jorge to win, he needs "stuff" to happen. Namely, all the planets need to be in perfect alignment. Rossi, on the other hand, seems to be able to win (or at least defeat Jorge) in numerous types of conditions/situations.

I watched the post-race press conference and I noted the entire exchange about "Luck" and Jorge. My first thought was that this was disrespectful but then, I wondered if Jorge simply was missing some of the subtleties of the english language. I know he converses well in it but, like most languages I imagine, it has subtleties. As someone who speaks english first and foremost, I picked up on what I would consider disrespect if Jorge were an english-first-language speaker. But, english is not his first language, and he was frustrated at that moment. I mean c'mon people - are you seriously telling me that you wouldn't say the same thing? "I was best on the dry, but just my luck, it rained". We all know that implies I am not as good as the rest in the wet, but do I really have to spell it out for you?

I give Jorge the benefit of the doubt. He sees himself as having worked hard, showing all indications (except the most important one of course) of being the fastest rider out there - but things he could not adapt to as well as his peers occurred. I believe he does respect his peers fully (but that's my opinion only). I think we do a disservice to him to assume he meant disrespect. I mean c'mon, Marquez says a whole mess of crap after Assen but we all forgive him because of the "heat of the moment", but Jorge answers a question about 'luck' in frustration and we're all over him?

He seems an intense guy, that's for sure. But, I think he understands that Rossi and Pedrosa out-rode him in those circumstances. He's just frustrated it wasn't the circumstances he had thought they were going to be :-)

. . . he'd have no luck at all." (Ray Charles)
People just like to get steamed up about nothing. If it's not some tweeners getting into a hissy fit over the relative merits of Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, it's contemporary racers being asked to choose between Agostini and Hailwood.
This looks like degenerating into another GOAT debate, requiring Squire Emmett to pick up his big stick and restore order yet again - and then we'll be sorry. How easily we forget, all of us will be dead and forgotten in a few short years - even the goats and immortals.

Lorenzo is a gentlemen- determined and mostly serious. Meanwhile, Rossi is a gentlemen of another order- pure talent, creative, funny and not-too-serious.

Rossi has times and times admitted that he races for fun and enjoys riding.

Lorenzo is too serious and I think that might be the issue that makes him lag behind in some areas.

Rossi is open: he's changed his riding style. He's learned from Marquez and Lorenzo; from Biaggi and Stoner. I think Rossi is successful because he's moderate in most of the matters. He rides cautiously when he has to and he risks when he must. He's creative in approaching overtakes and fights.

Lorenzo wants to be alone, race alone and stay always in the front. Rossi wants to fight and overtake! Lorenzo should learn to stay back and fight. Marquez is more open to staying with the other riders.

Rossi knows that a real win is when you fight with other riders and overtak, Lorenzo doesn't want that- his fault!

After having read David Emmett's report and all the comments that followed I have three things to say.

1. I stopped being Rossi's fan when I found him to be a sore loser. He manipulated Dorna to get him Bridgestones to beat Casey Stoner, which he did but his unfortunate move to Ducati will always be a beating stick for all who don't like him and even if David Emmett removes comparisons from the comments sections they will exist in people's mind.

2. I always believe even the best require luck on their side for things to happen; I do not believe that there is anyone so talented in any sphere in the world that he/she can shove luck aside and achieve the desirable. In that sense Lorenzo is entitled to feel disappointed with his luck and one does not need to make too much of it. After his brash days in 250 cc he has matured and has behaved himself very well, so any castigation of him for his expressing a bit of frustration is really not justified.

3. When riding for the World Championship the pressure is enormous and that can make people say and do things that they otherwise wouldn't. I remember Casey Stoner punching Randy De Puniet for trying to get a tow from him during qualifying.

Ergo, let us just celebrate the fact that the championship is getting to be a nail biter and not get into the minds of the riders and try to see their virtues and vices. Incidentally, I am happy that Pedrosa came from behind to beat the Yamaha riders. Also this year's World Championship is Lorenzo's to lose rather than Rossi's to win.

Totally agree with this. (I realise many don't, so felt compelled to speak up for the current unfavourable opinion).

Agreed with everything except for point #1. I am glad that Rossi managed to get the tires. Isn't this a competition where you want to have every last advantage to be the winner? These are not nice boys holding hands and singing koom-ba-yah!

Not to mention the fact that the only thing stopping Rossi getting Bridgestones was whether Yamaha would let him. Not some organiser conspiracy. Unless there was some some rules in 2008 that said so and so must have x brand of tyre that I'm unaware of?

I'm sure many of you will have see the latest Mark Neale film, "Hitting the Apex". It's a lot of fun; albeit mostly mindless racing footage and not a lot of deep insight.

However, during one of Rossi's interviews with Neale, he explains why the other racers race; what motivates them. It's the most astute comment from anyone in the film, and it says a lot about why he's so mentally tough and such a fantastic champion. In his own way, he has distilled the fundamental drivers of his opponents into their most basic elements, and therefore understands them completely. I am paraphrasing, but it goes something like this.

Some want to take revenge on the world
Some want to be the best
Some want to go fast and be the fastest
Some just want to have fun

It is clear who is he talking about. It explains Stoner's same miserable reactions after victories and failures, it explains Lorenzo's bitter complaints after losing, it explains Simocelli's recklessness and care-free attitude.

What I find interesting is that Rossi never really says what motivates him. I suppose it is all of the above. As such, perhaps he is the most motivated of them all.

So you're saying Rossi could be a student of Socrates as well as the GOAT? His insights are interesting - demonstrating he's clearly analyzed his fellow competitors, and probably himself as well. The great French endurance racer Christian Leon offered his own motivation in an interview.
The opportunity to do something beautiful.
As a working artist, that was the one which struck a chord with me.

They have things set very finely with these machines. MotoGP put a video up with one of the satellite team engineers, and he said that once they have a good base setup, it's usually very small changes that are made to the bike.
To just add 5-10 odd KG to the bike is going to upset EVERYTHING, including the rider and his feelings. It would also be more of a hindrance again, as it's not weight that is part of the rider and therefore moving with him. It's a static weight, and he then has to deal with that...can't hang it off more, position it around the bike to his benefit.

I can't quite remember who it was but it was one of the"name" crew chiefs or such like, he said something to he effect of: there is not a single part of the track where extra weight is an advantage.
Wet or dry more weight means more momentum not wanting to change direction, more mass to be slowed, more mass to be accelerated. Repositioning that mass to gain traction or aid braking is always worse than not having the extra mass to start with.

who's fastest? At this point is not relevant. Let's not forget that Lorenzo never had more points this year than Rossi. Luck? Maybe a bit but I think that the experience and the tricks that Rossi is carrying with him is more important. Valentino is mature enough to feel when to push and when to say thanks for a podium.
And also I think that Rossi's humble atitude is also very important. Lorenzo is so angry and frustated (or at least this is how it feels). These atitudes cannot bring anything good. Maybe a bit of silence from him would help his karma....
By the way, Rossi is almost 37! How can we all expect to be faster than Lorenzo or Marquez?! I think that David said a few months ago that this championship will be won by that the rider who wants it more and until now that one is Rossi! If Rossi will not make any huge mistake (crashing) in the last three races there is no way for Jorge to make it. Right now I don't think it's up to him anymore!

Age in sports is interesting to me. Anyone interested should search Youtube for a Bernard Hopkins interview talking about it.

I personally think, and Hopkins hints at it, that top level sports is mostly mental. You can maintain your fitness as you get older but it gets harder and you have to look after yourself from the beginning. Obviously skills become greater which makes it easier on the body too.

A lot of athletes are at the highest level in their early twenties and sometime mid to late teens. Ten years of top level competition and pressure is a great strain so by the time they are mid to late twenties they've taken on a lot of success and failure and a huge amount of sacrifice. Sugar Ray Leonard used to run to school alongside the school bus because he wanted to win olympic gold, his class mates thought he was crazy. Being done with the mental strain and achieving a lot of goals probably drives them to lose the will to maintain the level they need.

For those that don't know Bernard Hopkins is a boxer who held the middleweight title for a record number of years and defences. In a rematch after losing the first fight he started doing push ups in between rounds in a toe to toe fight with a twenty nine year old, he was forty seven at the time and is still fighting now at fifty at the top level.

If an athlete has the determination to maintain their fitness there is no reason they should stop until their body really does get too old and they can't do what they once could. Motorcycle racing is slightly different in that Rossi could still be fit and the technique and technology could move past his skill set as time moves on but considering he has spent the last year and three quarters fighting with the new super kid that doesn't seem to be a problem.

I know what some will say about Gatlin. But assuming that he isn't anymore (he must be the most tested athlete in the world), I think he is a very interesting addition to this conversation.

He is 33 years old, and has set the top two or three fastest 100 meter times this year. He's 33 years old! If you can be the fastest man at 33 years old surely you can be fit enough to do any other sport at the highest level.

Footballers retire at 34/35. Why? Gatlin is 33, and he is a lot faster than Messi and Ronaldo.

As for MotoGP, I agree that mental strength and focus are key. If you can be the fastest man at 33 then throwing yourself around on a bike shouldn't be a problem. It's about keeping focus, staying motivated, and having the talent and ability to adapt to stay competitive with the young guys, who have modeled themselves specifically to be better than you.

Not all footballers retire at 35. Stanley Matthews played in the 1st Division (aka EPL) until the age of 50 - and played his last competitive game at age 70. Admittedly he was an unusual individual - vegetarian, teetotal, never smoked - and was never booked or sent off.
Maybe Valentino will be riding that Yamaha for a decade or two yet. Get used to it.

I am late to the party. Just watched the race again. Dani Pedrosa was splendid in his performance. He looks to have lost alot of the tense feelings that seemed to go across his face when he was younger. Maybe because he has aged it has gotten him to relax more.

Jorge paid the price from trying to dominate so hard, and ate up all of his tires. Rossi stayed steady enough to take advantage. Great ending to the race, even the Cal Crutchlow vs Bradley Smith was even exciting for me. Great weekend! And great write up David. Excellent analysis and colorful descriptions.

Camera shots of the 3 front tires in Parc Ferme made it look like Pedrosa's tire was in worse shape than Rossi's. Good on him for wanting it more. I give lots of latitude to Lorenzo for post race comments. Few of us mortals know what it takes mentally to be able to race at this level. I do think while his team obviously hits setup, they need help with tactics.