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The Pattern of History

The Pattern of History

Another MotoGP™ weekend dominated by Jorge Lorenzo ahead of Sunday’s race, but does 2010 offer insight?

Silverstone, Misano, Aragon and now Motegi. All have seen Jorge Lorenzo dominate practice; in Japan he has led every session he participated in. His one lap pace is record breaking and his race pace almost untouchable. Can Valentino Rossi catch him or will he be forced to watch as Lorenzo streaks away into the distance, Rossi’s championship lead reducing with each second?

Race pace suggests Rossi will have to conjure up another magical setting change in Warm Up, he and his experienced crew of mechanics having performed this feat so many times before. In FP4 Lorenzo had six laps under the 1’45.4 mark, Rossi just two. ‘The Doctor’ has already reduced the gap from a staggering 0.733s after FP3 to a mere 0.081s in Q2 just hours later, if the trend continues he may be able to bring the fight to Lorenzo. The 2015 edition of the Japanese GP has Lorenzo hunting his third straight victory at the track, meanwhile Rossi hasn’t won there since 2008.

As seen in Aragon and Jerez and Mugello and Barcelona, if Lorenzo is able to make a run at the start he’s almost untouchable when given his own lines to run. For the first time since the French GP in 2010, Valentino Rossi will line up beside Lorenzo on the front row of the grid. When they started together in Le Mans it was Lorenzo who took victory, over five seconds clear of Rossi. The Italian is known as a ‘Sunday man’ the heat of competition spurring him onwards and he has learnt since 2010, adding a variety of weapons to his arsenal, not just through his recent successes with Yamaha but also through his troubles at Ducati. Rossi is always learning, always evolving and growing and that’s why he is still competitive in his 16th premier class season.

It seems as though the heavens are Rossi’s best hope again if can't find changes to improve. In Silverstone and Misano Rossi was able to adapt to the conditions better than Lorenzo, opening up a significant gap in the championship. If Lorenzo has one weakness it’s that he seems less confident in the mixed and wet conditions, Rossi’s strength is his consistency no matter what the track or what condition it's in.

The pattern is becoming all too familiar over a GP weekend: Lorenzo dominates in dry practice as everyone questions whether Rossi can produce Warm Up magic or have the skies once again come to his aid. Sometimes it has gone Rossi's way, but in Brno and Aragon it went in favour of Lorenzo. With just 14-points splitting the two MotoGP™ titans and four races still left, Rossi will need a bit of both if he wants a tenth world title because Lorenzo is gaining momentum.

2010 was also the year the pair had their historic Motegi clash, fighting harder than ever for third. While it’s still unknown if they’ll repeat the fairing bashing in 2015, it does look certain it will be for higher than third. Both riders are having the seasons of their lives, riding better than they ever have before as they each push the other to brake later, brake harder, carry more corner speed and accelerate sooner. Rossi and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) have had multiple on track battles, most notably in Argentina and Assen, but Lorenzo and Rossi have yet to really race each other. That could all change on Sunday if the pattern breaks.

MotoGP, 2015, MOTUL GRAND PRIX OF JAPAN, Q2, Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP

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