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.
The world of MotoGP holds thousands of mysteries, many of which are way beyond my ken. But there is something that has bothered me for the last couple of seasons, with ne’er a reasonable explanation offered by anyone in the paddock: why does everyone gift the racetrack to Jorge Lorenzo at the start of qualifying?
You could set your watch by Lorenzo’s first QP exit: off he goes, ahead of everyone and chased by no-one, with the racetrack all to himself, just the way he likes it.
How does this happen? Why do his rivals let him do exactly what he wants? Why do none of them accelerate out of pitlane sucking up his exhaust fumes, using him to lower their own lap times, perhaps even learning something, perhaps even showing him a wheel to upset his equilibrium? His rivals should do anything and everything to ruffle his self-styled Buddhist calm because winning isn’t merely about being faster, it’s also about being cleverer.
Andrea Dovizioso offers this explanation. “It is impossible to be quicker than Jorge on the first lap because he is so fast on new tyres.”
But it wasn’t always thus. Lorenzo didn’t used to be fast out of the gate. Lorenzo learned this risky trick from Casey Stoner, who used it to devastating effect, because he knew it was the only way to compete with the Australian.
A few winters ago Lorenzo worked hard at this: storming out of the pits with new tyres and a full tank to learn the skill which has become the foundation of his success: pole position followed by the same on-the-edge tilt into the first corners of the race.
At Motegi someone did for the first time try to rattle him in Q2. And the man who did the rattling was team-mate and title-rival Valentino Rossi.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.