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The journey to Lorenzo’s fifth title

The journey to Lorenzo’s fifth title

There’s never been a doubt of Jorge Lorenzo’s supreme talent on a motorcycle, his fifth world championship cementing him as a modern legend.

Born in the Balearic Island of Mallorca, Jorge Lorenzo began riding motorcycles at just three years old and quickly started competing in minicross races. By the time he was nine years old Lorenzo was winning a variety of domestic minimoto, trial and junior motorcross titles. In 1997 Lorenzo moved to road racing and to the national level, taking the Aprilia 50cc Cup title in 1998. Special compensation was then made for Lorenzo to race in the 125cc Spanish championship in 2000, at 13 he was too young but soon took victory in the series as well as the European championship the following year.

His path to the top was rapid and in 2002 Lorenzo made his 125cc World Championship debut. He had to wait till Qualifying in Jerez to make his on track debut, again under the minimum age limit. Lorenzo would secure a best finish of seventh in his rookie year. In 2003 Lorenzo would remain with Derbi in the lightweight class, a difficult start to the year saw him score only twice in the opening nine rounds.

The Brazilian GP was a turning point, Lorenzo took his first victory and earned his ‘Por Fuera’ nickname. ‘Por Fuera’ is Spanish for ‘on the outside’, calling back to his incredible pass around the outside of Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa at the Brazilian GP, to secure first World Championship victory. The nickname would stay with Lorenzo and become an integral part of his helmet design later.

Lorenzo would remain in the 125cc class again in 2004, taking three wins and four podiums to end the year in fourth before moving to the 250cc championship in 2005. It was a strong first year with the Fortuna Lotus Honda squad, Lorenzo taking six podiums and establishing himself as one of the most aggressive riders on the grid. For 2006 and 2007 the Fortuna Lotus team switched to Aprilia machinery and Lorenzo dominated the intermediate class, taking back to back titles are securing a total of 17 wins. These efforts earned Lorenzo a factory Yamaha contract, joining the Fiat Yamaha Team on a two-year deal from 2008.

In just his first premier class race Lorenzo secured pole position in Qatar, converting it to second in the race. The following two rounds Lorenzo again took pole and won just his third ever MotoGP™ race. Disaster struck in China, the Majorcan crashing heavily and breaking both his ankles during practice. Still he lined up on the grid, finishing fourth. Then in Barcelona Lorenzo had his fifth crash in four rounds, forcing him to miss the race and take stock of his approach to racing.. It was in Laguna Seca that Lorenzo was once more flung from his Yamaha M1, experiencing a spectacular highside on the first lap that broke both his feet again. He would go on to take two more podiums and end his debut year in fourth.

Having learnt a lot about both himself and racing a MotoGP™ bike, Lorenzo launched a serious title challenge in 2009 with eight podium finishes, and two wins in the opening nine rounds. Lorenzo also swapped from ‘48’ to his now customary ‘99’ for the 2009 season/ It was during this run that Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi had their famous Catalunya clash, Lorenzo coming off second best and Rossi seizing the championship momentum. DNFs in both the British and Czech GPs ended Lorenzo’s hopes the title.

Finally in 2010 everything aligned for Lorenzo, he remained with the Yamaha Factory team and despite missing most of pre-season testing with a hand injury, finished Qatar in second place. In the first ten rounds Lorenzo was never lower than second, only off the top step of the podium on three occasions. Meanwhile Rossi had crashed in Mugello and broken his leg, Throughout all of 2010 Lorenzo would finish off the podium on only two occasions, in Aragon and Motegi, ending the year with a total of 383 points and taking his first MotoGP™ World Championship.

For 2011 Lorenzo elected to run the number 1 plate as he battled vigorously with Casey Stoner. Lorenzo’s title defense got off to a solid start with three podiums and a victory in the first five races but he crashed during the British GP, Stoner seizing the momentum. His challenge to Stoner continued until Lorenzo crashed during Warm-Up for the Australian GP, losing the tip of his finger.

With the iconic ‘99’ back on the front of his Yamaha, Lorenzo made an explosive start to 2012 with four victories and two seconds in the first six races. Throughout the entire year Lorenzo would only finish outside of the top two twice, when he failed to finish in Assen and in Valencia. Lorenzo was once again crowned World Champion, his second in the premier class.

In the 2013 season Lorenzo, and the rest of the MotoGP™ World Championship, had to contend with the young talent of Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda). It proved a difficult year for Lorenzo who suffered a broken collarbone in Assen but still raced to fifth the same weekend. A crash during practice for the German GP would aggravate the injury and see him miss the race. Five wins in the closing seven races saw him remain in title contention till Valencia, eventually finishing second.

It was a disastrous start to Lorenzo’s 2014 campaign, the Majorcan suffering an uncharacteristic crash during the opening race in Qatar, his first race crash since Valencia 2012. Problems continued in Austin as he jumped the start, salvaging 10th. Lorenzo would take just two victories, ending the year in third.

2015 began with three hard races for Lorenzo, two fourths and a fifth causing many to question his title challenge. A run of four victories upon the MotoGP™ paddock’s return to Europe gave hope, Marquez crashing three times and ruling himself out. A run of steady top five finishes saw the 2015 title battle decided between Movistar Yamaha teammates Rossi and Lorenzo. Despite a crash in Misano, Lorenzo would take his fifth World Championship in Valencia with 330 points and once again prove himself as the fastest rider in the MotoGP™ class.

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