4 years ago
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It might be the ‘fight of the century’ in Las Vegas tonight, but it was Lorenzo who delivered the knockout in Jerez.
With nineteen years of experience reporting on MotoGP™ for Motorcycle News, Matthew Birt knows the championship inside-out. For the 2015 season he joins the motogp.com team to bring you exclusive news and opinion from inside the paddock.
Without a podium finish in his last four MotoGP races (his worst premier class run since his rookie season in 2008), you would not have parted with too much money in backing the Spaniard to dominate practice before setting the fastest ever two-wheeled lap of the Jerez circuit in qualifying.
But ahead of the ‘fight of the century’ boxing bout between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas tonight, it has been Lorenzo delivering the knockout blows in Andalucia.
Lorenzo has picked himself up off the canvas after three races that saw him on the wrong end of some heavy blows that severely dented his early title challenge.
He looked well set to put a largely forgettable 2014 behind him in the season’s opening race in Qatar when a loose piece of foam inside his helmet impaired his vision and he finished fourth.
Fourth again in Texas after being struck down by a bout of bronchitis, Lorenzo then limped home in a frustrating fifth in Argentina after his choice of the medium front Bridgestone tyre left him on the ropes again.
I spoke to Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis and Lorenzo’s Movistar team boss Wilco Zeelenberg after the Argentina race and both spoke of Lorenzo’s need to regroup and quickly regain lost confidence.
Yamaha has played a part in Lorenzo’s return to prominence by confirming earlier this weekend that he will be staying on a YZR-M1 machine with Valentino Rossi in 2016.
His disappointing start to 2015 prompted early gossip of renewed talks with a resurgent Ducati about a move next season.
Incessant questions from the media about his future could have provided an unwelcome distraction while Lorenzo was trying to recapture his best form.
Yamaha moved quickly to bury that rumour, and in doing so showed they still have unbroken faith in Lorenzo’s capability to win a third premier class title.
How quickly he has gone back on the front foot and countered attacked though in Jerez has been impressive to say the least.
Lorenzo says he has gone back to riding more on instinct and not over-thinking or complicating his efforts to ride fast.
Lorenzo is so famed for his silky smooth riding style that when he’s fast he actually looks slow. That’s how he’s looked this weekend.
He floats like a butterfly on track. But will he sting like a bee tomorrow when it really counts in the race?
On paper, it looks like being no contest.
Jerez hasn’t been Lorenzo’s land since 2011, but his stunning record lap of 1.37.910 in qualifying secured him a fifth pole position in eight MotoGP races in Jerez.
He has been able to demonstrate his trademark metronomic consistency throughout practice, with the double MotoGP World Champion reeling of laps in the 1.39 bracket for fun.
He celebrates his 28th birthday on Monday but we won’t know if the celebrations will commence early and he is truly back to his best unless he completes the job in the race.
And after his sensational start to 2015, only a fool would rule out Rossi from being party pooper, and the Italian looks menacing from the middle of the second row.
Based on what we’ve seen so far, I can’t see Lorenzo being stopped. And after Mayweather against Pacquiao, Lorenzo should win on a points decision. Twenty-five to be precise.
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