MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Lorenzo: from one-trick pony to corner chameleon
How Jorge Lorenzo changed his race strategy and riding technique by 180 degrees, learning to steer the Ducati “like a boat”
Let’s pretend that Jorge Lorenzo didn’t get flicked to the moon at Aragón. Instead let’s pretend that he ran wide at the first corner, lost a few places, then fought back to fight for the win with Marc Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso. On the last lap he out-brakes Dovizioso into the first corner, drafts past Márquez on the back straight and uses the Ducati’s stellar drive out of the final corner to cross the finish line three-hundredths of a second in front.
Okay, so Lorenzo didn’t win at Aragón, but this a good time nonetheless to examine how the three-time MotoGP king has transformed himself since he walked out of the Yamaha garage and into the Ducati garage in November 2016.
Some years ago, when only Casey Stoner could win on the Ducati, the Australian never liked to reveal the secrets of his technique, merely telling us that “you must subsume yourself to the bike”. In other words, the rider must omit his ego – instead of telling the motorcycle what he wants it to do, he must listen to the machine and do what it wants him to do. In fact, it’s not quite that simple – he must also listen to the machine and hear what it needs to make it perform better.
Back in his Yamaha/Bridgestone days, Lorenzo looked like a one-trick pony, winning races with the devastating corner-speed technique he had learned riding 250s. Not only that, he usually needed a clear track ahead, because anyone in front slowed him through the turns and nullified his greatest weapon.
This was his approach during each of his championship-winning years, especially 2015, when he won the crown by winning seven races, in which he led all 178 laps. And during those races he led all but nine of 2477 corners – the only corners he didn’t lead were turn one at Le Mans and the first eight at Mugello.
The fact that his victory rate plummeted by almost half in 2016, when Dorna’s unified software and Michelin tyres arrived, suggested that even the Yamaha alone wasn’t enough to help him dominate.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.