Looking Back At 2013 - Rating The Riders: 2nd, Jorge Lorenzo, 9/10

Continuing our look back at 2013, here is the second part of our rating of rider performances last season, covering championship runner up Jorge Lorenzo. If you missed part 1, on Marc Marquez, you can catch up here.

Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Factory Racing
Championship position: 2nd
Score: 9/10

After as close to a perfect year as you can get in 2012, Jorge Lorenzo faced a major challenge in 2013. Defending his 2010 title, Lorenzo found himself pushing right at the limit to try to match the pace of Casey Stoner. He had hoped defending his 2012 title would be a little easier, but that would prove not to be the case.

Ironically, Lorenzo ran up against the same problems in 2013 that he had faced in 2011: a game-changing newcomer at Honda, on a bike developed specifically to beat the Yamaha. In 2011, the game-changer had been Casey Stoner; in 2013, it was Marc Marquez.

Lorenzo started the year well at Qatar, but raced at Austin knowing he could not beat the Hondas. At Jerez, he got a rude awakening, when Marc Marquez barged him aside in the final corner. His worst finish since his rookie year at Le Mans was followed by two wins, Lorenzo regaining his confidence and feeling he had the championship back under control.

That turned out to be his biggest mistake. Bristling with self-confidence, Lorenzo pushed hard during free practice at Assen, going way too fast for the tricky conditions at the Dutch circuit. A small spot of standing water at the Hoge Heide, the fastest part of the track, saw him lose control, fall heavily and break his collarbone. An overnight dash to Barcelona for surgery saw him return after qualifying, passing a fitness test on Saturday morning, and ready to race. In one of the truly awe-inspiring displays of gritty determination which motorcycle racing is famous for, Jorge Lorenzo raced at Assen, coming up through the field to finish 5th. Only Ian Hutchinson's win at Macau, after recovering from his 30th operation on the leg he injured in 2010 tops Lorenzo's effort.

Two weeks later, it all went wrong again. Lorenzo crashed at the Sachsenring, bent the plate in his collarbone, and had to pull out. Though still not fully fit, he raced at Laguna Seca a week later. His collarbone was still weakened, and it took the 2012 champion until the end of August to fully recover, by which time he had lost a lot of ground in the championship, trailing Marc Marquez by 47 points.

The last part of the season marked the mental toughness for which Jorge Lorenzo is rightly lauded. He ground out five more wins, ramping up the pressure on Marquez, and starting to dish out some of the physical treatment he had been on the receiving end of from the Honda rookie. He did everything he could to put Marquez under pressure, trying mind games, exploiting weakness, trying to sow discontent in the Honda team, saying that the title was Marquez' to lose. Lorenzo was handed a second chance at Phillip Island, closing the seemingly unbridgeable gap to Marquez when the Honda man was disqualified. But it was too little, too late, and after an astounding race at Valencia, Lorenzo conceded his title with honor, winning the race, and taking more wins than Marquez.

Lorenzo's 2013 season reads like something from Greek tragedy. He grew in confidence, was brutally punished for his hubris, but redeemed himself through hard work and determination. Jorge Lorenzo may not have won the 2013 title, but arguably, he was the best motorcycle racer in the world this year.

High point:

Ask Jorge Lorenzo what his high point of the year was, and he'll tell you it was Silverstone. Coming back to full fitness after breaking his collarbone at Assen and then again at the Sachsenring, Lorenzo held off a charging Marquez, diving for victory in a scintillating last-lap battle. It was the moment when Lorenzo seized control of the championship again, though by this time, he was a long way behind.

But for me, the high point of Lorenzo's year was Valencia. It was a sublime performance by the now deposed champion. Needing to get extra riders between himself and Marquez, he first tried holding up Dani Pedrosa, making a few dubious moves on the way. When it turned out that nobody could follow even the slower pace he had been setting, and with Pedrosa gone from between Marquez and himself (a result of one of Lorenzo's borderline rough passes), he went for the win, opening a gap with ease and taking victory unchallenged. The ease with which he could switch from trying to hold up the group at the front, to disappearing at the front demonstrated just how much control he had over the race. Nobody was ever going to win that race but him.

Low point:

Two weeks spanning late June and early July were the nadir of Jorge Lorenzo's season. The first crash at Assen crushed his confidence, but a gritty performance to race two days later, with a freshly plated collarbone, helped quickly restore it. At the Sachsenring, two weeks later, Lorenzo crashed again, bending the plate fixed to his collarbone and requiring yet more surgery to fix. Lorenzo did not race, and even considered skipping Laguna Seca the following week. Though less scary than the first crash at Assen, his crash in Germany was what finally halted his championship defense.

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The positions correct but I feel Marquez should have a higher points tally than Lorenzo.

Personally, while I understand your reasoning Jorge's low point was his blatant hypocrisy: His complaints against others started long before the excuse for 'pay-back' / 'race-control-didn't-do-anything-so-I-will' nonsense, (years in fact). Along with his often sour face and constant spouting of the 'Yamaha is lots worse than the Honda' fallacy, finished my absolute last 99th % of enjoyment at his undoubted skill.

Bitter cold here in Denver, roads are treacherous. My motorcycling is reading these wrap-ups and reliving the season with you. Thank you for all you bring to our lives, all the year around.

Minus three for hypocrisy.
Bonus point for racing at Assen.
Net result: 8/10.

@beaufort @moto4

I'm confused with this hypocrisy you speak of. The only race that JL barged into someone was the last race of the year where he HAD to control 2 Honda's and pray someone could match the lower speeds in hopes of winning the CHAMPIONSHIP. I repeat he was racing for the CHAMPIONSHIP it wasn't a moment of red mist, it wasn't a last corner barge it was a CHAMPIONSHIP deciding race/strategy. If you guys can convince yourselves that last corner/last lap antics are okay because its for the win but can't separate your dislike of JL to see he was racing for the CHAMPIONSHIP then I can't think of a better example of hypocrites.

The post race press conference at Sepang this year was my observed low point in Lorenzo's season, claiming that no contact was made with Marquez after running into him on corner exit in their battle early in the race.

Add to that the fact that the racing could be as exciting as the first half of Valencia ALL THE TIME, but no, Jorge and Dani don't want it like that so we're drip fed on track drama at the sharp end like junkies with a busted connect.

"Jorge Lorenzo may not have won the 2013 title, but arguably, he was the best motorcycle racer in the world this year."

Amen. Lorenzo's experience and guile, racecraft and smooth lines did draw a contrast the more ragged edges of the Rookie. Fair play to rate them the same for the year.

of what you accuse Beaufort and I is not correctly identified as hypocrisy.

it was not only the last race of the season during which Lorenzo 'barged' his opponents. Re read the article and you'll see acknowledgement of that fact.

If you insist, I can happily provide you with a long term list of incidents of physical contact initiated by Jorge, despite self I proclamation that motorcycle is not a contact sport and even that he would retire if it were to become common.

Regardless, I concur with the conclusion that JL is the best motorcycle racer in the world today but simply I dislike his obvious hypocrisy.

On a entirely different note, I am pleased to read Hutchy getting a mention.

Pedrosa changed the game during his 250 years for Jorge/Casey. Pedrosa hated to battle and just sped off into the distance from start. (sound familiar?)

Jorge and Casey both used the "contact" issue to try to stiffle fast new comers.

This is racing not time trials/qualifying. If racing were all about who rides the fastest with a clear track--there is not point of showing up on Sunday, just award the podium after QP.

Jorge didn't like a rookie coming in and spoiling his victory lap.

Pedrosa changed the game during his 250 years for Jorge/Casey. Pedrosa hated to battle and just sped off into the distance from start. (sound familiar?)

Jorge and Casey both used the "contact" issue to try to stiffle fast new comers.

This is racing not time trials/qualifying. If racing were all about who rides the fastest with a clear track--there is not point of showing up on Sunday, just award the podium after QP.

Jorge didn't like a rookie coming in and spoiling his victory lap.

you know what i like most of all? mm fans. mm rode like an braindead guy through the field with no regard there were other riders on track, hell even the marshalls run like chickens etc. we all seen what happend and how it happend. Jorge just said what we all could whitness too. but nothing realy happend. than came the point were jorge said: enough! im back too 250 style, he rode like mm maybe even harder and suddenly people started to complain about jorge. Jorge should have never let go the 250cc style in my eyes. but then again James toseland couldn't ride the same way in motogp as he did in wsbk. the direction told him to take it easy, but the race direction knew about mm how he rides a bike, willairot and all the other know to. but nothing came from the direction and it took a life time befor the did anything. So jorge took the talking to the track and suddenly all the armchair racers started to complain about jorge. so for me thats the most fun part of 2013.

He's technically and aesthetically, physically and psychologically in another league.

I fully expect him to do a Doohan in 2014... walking away with a few races with what we'll consider "boring" racing by (whenever he can) extending leads lap after lap, grinding the confidence out of his rivals.

In more battle oriented racing situations he'll bring his scrap and bulk and win through intimidation and scorn for the upstart.

It took an untamed, repugnant and oblivious approach from a wild child to unseat Jorge from his deserved championship, and only with the assistance of some incredible luck did Marquez have it his way with the trophy.

Marquez had a blinder of a year. But he was far from the best rider on the track.

Jorge is now prepared to take the gloves off, and will be working on that technique his superior technique with even more laser focus than before. Barring injuries or huge issues of disparity in bikes, 2014 is his.

Have never been a fan of Lorenzo, but you have to be an ass backwards person to deny that man's drive. Lorenzo was the only person that could race Marquez into submission. No one else on the grid was able to match Marquez once he got comfortable with the bike. Lorenzo complained a lot about Marquez riding, but Lorenzo himself in past years has done his fair share of contact.

He firmly deserves the second spot. My personal feelings why he lost the championship are down to Lorenzo creating his own luck by pushing too hard in practice injuring himself. If that had not happened it is a HIGH possibility that he would have won that championship without a hitch. But he did not win, and that is life. He has moved on unfazed and got on with the job the best he could by breaking Marquez win streak when Marquez started to look like a runaway champion. Brilliant job by Lorenzo. Another great write up David. You site is the methodone to my heroin addiction called Motogp!

Averagerider (Formerly whorida)

Marquez must've played it safe but the last time a moto gp rider dominated so fiercely his opponents must be Rossi at Phillip Island 2003. A man toying with kids.

I think Marquez isn't given enough credit. Some of Lorenzo's best performances came along because he was being pushed by a guy who was tackling 14/18 tracks for the first time in FP1. For example everyone gave Lorenzo so much praise for his Motegi performance. Very few acknowledged that he had to ride like that being pushed by someone who had a handful of laps in warm-up and a crash. He went into the race still learning where the brake markers where at each corner and was able to pressure Lorenzo majority of the race and beat Pedrosa. I think people are quick to forget Marquez raced against guys with 5 years and 7 years Motogp experience respectively..