Lorenzo deliberately sought out ‘enemies’ such as Rossi in MotoGP
Monday 19th December, 2022 - 1:15pm
Three-time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo has explained how he deliberately sought to create rivalries with other riders in order to motivate himself.
The Spaniard had a high-profile feud with Valentino Rossi, with the famous wall dividing one side of the Yamaha garage from the other during their first stint as team-mates, even after the move to a common tyre supplier.
Tensions reached boiling point in the latter stages of the 2015 season when Rossi accused Lorenzo and compatriot Marc Marquez of a conspiracy to deny him the title.
That stance was taken even before the infamous incident between #46 and Honda’s Marquez at Sepang, after which Lorenzo unsuccessfully appealed to be a party to Rossi’s case in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Rossi had been attempting to have his penalty for the Marquez clash suspended, given it translated to a rear of grid start at Valencia, where his Yamaha team-mate would clinch the title.
Now, in a documentary on streaming service DAZN covering four Spanish grand prix world champions, Cuatro Tiempo, Lorenzo has revealed how rivalries fuelled him.
“I was looking for rivalry because having an enemy motivated me; it helped me to be stronger on the track,” said the Mallorcan.
“We [Him and Rossi] didn’t have any clashes on the track in 2015, but the rivalry was felt, even if we never fought for a victory or anything else,” he added.
“Sometimes I won, sometimes he won, but the rivalry was in the air until the end.
“You could realise this from the media, I said something, Valentino replies … from the press it was perceived that we didn’t like each other and that we didn’t talk to each other.”
In fact, Lorenzo deliberately courted controversy through the media, revealing how he used a Spanish journalist to help his cause.
“I said to him, ‘In the press conference, ask me about the championship, if Valentino would deserve the title if he were champion,’” recounted #99.
“He did and I replied, ‘If Valentino won the title, for me it wouldn’t be deserved, it would be the result of circumstances.’
“I wanted to put pressure on him to make him feel inferior and to influence him.
“I also created this rivalry through the press, like Rossi did.”
Jorge Martinez, who won the 125cc world championship and three titles at 80cc level, also features in the documentary series.
Nowadays also a champion as a team owner, including this year in Moto3 as the GasGas factory squad courtesy of Izan Guevara, Martinez had a similar take as Lorenzo and decried the lack of niggle on the current grid.
“It makes you better,” he declared.
“Now you can see them shaking hands in the press conference, stopping in the corners at the end of the race to say hello…
“I get angry when I see it, because that wasn’t the case in my day.
“Somehow you had to stay together on the track, with a more or less good feeling, but not, for me, it’s too much.”
Two-time 250cc champion Dani Pedrosa, who raced as a wildcard last year as part of his testing role with KTM, said that rivalries still exist, but are different in nature, at least until such time that an incident crates animosity.
“It’s not that [rivalry] is missing now, it’s that I don’t understand it, because my concept of competition is perhaps different,” he opined.
“But you can’t even pretend, you can’t create a rivalry out of nothing, it has to be something real.
“In my case and Lorenzo’s, I didn’t like him and he didn’t like me, and the rest is history.
“If they get along now, there’s nothing you can do about it, unless one day something happens that creates a problem.”
This year’s MotoGP title battle was notable for the lack of ill-feeling between the protagonists, for the most part.
Aleix Espargaro, who ultimately finished fourth in the championship, said he could not understand why the media did not appreciate that.
“I’ve said many times, Fabio [Quartararo, then the championship leader] is a nice guy, and many times from outside of us from the press it looks like you guys don’t like that we are fighting for the world championship and we have a good relationship,” said the Aprilia rider.
“And I don’t really understand this.
“We clashed already once in Assen, and I’m sure we will clash again during the next races.
“Racing is racing. If we know how far we can go to respect one another, this is racing.
“We both want to win, but Fabio is a very nice guy.”
Meanwhile, Lorenzo, who now works as a commentator for DAZN, claims his relationship with Rossi has “improved a lot” in recent years.