Rating The Riders, 2016: Jorge Lorenzo

Next up in our review of how the MotoGP riders performed in 2016 is Jorge Lorenzo. Here is our look at how the 2015 champion did last season:

Jorge Lorenzo – Yamaha – 8
3rd - 233 points

Jorge Lorenzo is arguably the fastest rider in the world on his day. Lorenzo's throttle control, physical control of his body, sensitivity to the movement of the bike, and ability to sense and exploit edge grip is second to none. To quote Cal Crutchlow for the umpteenth time when he was riding a Tech 3 Yamaha, "the only time we reach the lean angles that Jorge achieves is just before we fall off."

Jorge Lorenzo entered the 2016 season intending to prove exactly that. He felt unappreciated and ignored over his 2015 title, mainly because of the way he won it. The controversy which surrounded that victory – in which he had no part – cast a shadow over his achievement. Above all, he felt underappreciated and ignored by Yamaha, who had canceled the planned celebrations of the championship. He felt he was operating under a yoke, forced into acquiescence by the dominant role of Valentino Rossi. He determined to repeat his championship, to make it clear to everyone – fans, media, rivals, but above all, to Yamaha – that he was the best rider in the world.

Lorenzo's failure to win back-to-back championships was precisely because too often, it was not Jorge Lorenzo's day. First, there was the change to the Michelins after Argentina, when the rear tire was made harder, robbing the edge of the tire of grip. Then there was the spec electronics, which did not have the same level of precision which Yamaha's own electronics of 2015 had offered. But above all, there were the Michelin wet tires, which moved around so much on the edge that Lorenzo could not get an understanding of the limit. All of these factors transformed the 2016 Yamaha M1 into a bike Lorenzo couldn't ride to the limit: it moved too much, rendering his precision and sensitivity impotent.

Were Lorenzo's problems a matter of distraction? It surely didn't help that the Spaniard decided to move to Ducati so early in the season. It was all part of a mad rush at the beginning of the year, with most of the grid signing new contracts before they had even got to Barcelona. Normally, Barcelona is when the first contract of the year is signed, not the 14th or 15th. Lorenzo's signing with Ducati certainly disrupted relations within Yamaha, the atmosphere souring noticeably for the rest of the year.

In the end, though, this was all down to Lorenzo himself, and his failure to adapt. That he is still arguably the fastest rider in the world on his day is clear from the statistics: ten podiums, of which four were wins, two fastest laps, and 105 laps leading races, more than any other rider on the grid.

It was when things weren't going his way that he came up woefully short: tenth in Assen and fifteenth at the Sachsenring were all down to Lorenzo's riding. Seventeenth at Brno was worse, but he had a reasonable excuse, as his front tire fell apart. To his credit, he did not make excuses in Holland or Germany.

How does this bode for 2017, when Jorge Lorenzo joins Ducati? It is hard to say, but the omens are better than many expected. Lorenzo was quick on the Desmosedici, and looked immediately comfortable on the bike. In their second year back in MotoGP, Michelin's tires should improve, with a new front likely to bring a better feel, and innovations on the rear bringing more edge grip. The Ducati GP16 was good enough to win races. The GP17 should be good enough to compete for the championship.

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David, I don't understand where this 8 comes from! If MM is 9.5 and VR 8.5 then surely Lorenzo cannot get more than a very reluctant 7.
And precisely for the reasons you mention : if he is the reigning world champion and the fastest guy on track then he has even less excuses for his very erratic season.
What makes a great champion? Among the many factors i would definitely include the ability to adapt. And this season showed exactly the opposite: if things are not absolutely perfectly aligned he can't perform, in a way almost painful to watch. And this is a pattern that we've seen already in the past seasons, Brno aside. When you think about it in the past 3 seasons he managed to win against his team-mate by a mere 5 point only when his stars were all aligned. But twice, as soon as there was a little grain of sand, he could not manage it and was behind.
That 8 is way too generous.

Completely, as I've stated before it was the edge grip rubber and electronics that made the difference in 2015, I apply the same opinion to 2016. Lorenzos season was farcical and he was lucky his teammate and Marquez had as many issues as they did, as the gap should have been much bigger. He was also lucky that Ducati, Suzuki and Pedrosa also had very inconsistent seasons. Lorenzo was very lucky to not have ended up 5th or 6th in the standings. 

Sometimes I wonder if everyone here is watching the same sport.
I get that Lorenzo is easy to dislike and I wouldn't say that he's my favorite rider, but his speed is undeniable. Last year the #99 did have a handful of terrible races , but afterwards he was regularly on the podium and won the last race in dominant fashion.
This isn't politics. We can't change the facts to suit the narrative we'd like to have

We are. I think you may have viewed it differently or Did you miss Argentina, Catalunya, Assen, Sachsenring, Brno, Silverstone, Phillip Island, Sepang & Motegi. 

the contrast of his season was enormous. Which points mainly to the rubber and climactic conditions. Lorenzo proved that he is far from adaptable and I stand by my statement that he was very lucky to finish 3rd in 2016

His year or his title. IMO Catalunya and Silverstone were his worst races of the year. Droping like a stone in Barcelona, and getting 20sec to maveric in Silverstone, in dry conditions...I don't get it. I know it was not for lack of tryin, not unfit or any other physical fault, he was in top shape, as he has shown by winning first and last race in dominant style...but it was not to be his year. 

Maybe too tough. I watched Lorenzo through 250 2-stroke through MGP and he may show his hand and wear his heart on his sleeve when things don't work for him on the day, but he has incredible belief in himself with just cause and has proven it against Rossi, Stoner and Marquez. I think the biggest example of his mental toughness was witnessed back then when he accepted Rossi back into the Yamaha fold as his factory team mate and come what may.

Rossi and Marquez have yet to walk down that road.

If you want to talk about mental strength, then we can talk about his epic (crazy!?) race when he literally jumped from the operating table to the track. That was unbelievable.
But VR back into the Yamaha fold as proof of mental toughness? C'mon! First, as proven for many years, Yamaha doesn't really seem to ask for permission to their top racer before signing in a new one. Second, when VR went back to Yamaha with his tail between his legs nobody-JL included- thought he was ever going to be competitive again! There needn't be any mental strength to let him in : the majority had written him off. So no! We can find many examples of his mental toughness but certainly not letting VR back into that garage.