Lorenzo vs Marquez: a rivalry reignited

Since 2013, there have been nine key clashes between the numbers 93 and 99. Before Austria, it was 4-4…

Five years ago at the Circuito de Jerez, now Angel Nieto, the first sparks flew in a rivalry: then-reigning Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) vs now-reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). After another stunning duel, this time at the Red Bull Ring, it’s time to take a little stock before the two prepare to line up as teammates next season at Repsol Honda.

2013 – back to the beginning

Lorenzo was the reigning Champion who’d just had the final corner at Jerez named after him when the two titans first clashed. In that Spanish GP, Marquez’ last lap lunge made contact and sent Lorenzo wide – causing the older Spaniard to make his displeasure clear in parc ferme. But their first duel for the win was yet to come…

On Saturday, qualifying was an electrifying shootout between the two men as they inched closer and closer to the two minute barrier. Trading fast laps, Lorenzo lost out but the day after, the ‘Spartan’ would strike back.

After an incident in Warm Up that saw Marquez dislocate his shoulder, the rookie Championship leader’s fitness was in question when the lights went out, but it proved an unnecessary worry. It went down to the final lap and, after a spectacular battle, the final corner – with Lorenzo slicing down the inside to take the win by an incredible 0.081 seconds.

2014 – the tables turn

The start of 2014 was a tough one for Lorenzo, as Marquez took ten wins in a row. One of those was harder than some to come by, however, and it was at the track that has seen some of the number 99’s biggest successes: Mugello. Marquez took the spoils, by just over a tenth…

Fast forward to Silverstone and Lorenzo still hadn’t won a race. In the British GP the ‘Spartan’ put up another fight but, once again, Marquez had the measure of him. Locked together with the same pace for much of the race, Marquez made his move aggressive and intelligent – a block pass that created enough gap for him to defend it to the end. Round 4 went to Marquez again, by seven tenths.

2015 – call it a draw

The story of the 2015 title fight was Lorenzo vs Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), but two of the biggest races of the season had Lorenzo and Marquez at the helm. At Phillip Island in the ‘Island Battle’, Lorenzo was the man hunted down and attacked by Marquez for the win.

At Valencia, it was Marquez on his exhaust and just unable to get past his great rival on the final lap. Lorenzo won the race and the title, despite serious pressure from Marquez and, earlier in the race, teammate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team).

2016 – the closest yet

Marquez played a tactical masterclass to take the title in 2016, but the tactical masterclass at Mugello came from Lorenzo. Another classic duel lit up the Tuscan countryside, and by the final lap it was Marquez ahead and looking dead set for the win. But exiting the final corner, Lorenzo timed everything to perfection – outdragging Marquez to the line. The gap? Just 0.019.

2018 – the rivalry reignites

At Brno, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was sublime at the front – and neither Marquez nor Lorenzo had an answer for the Italian. But they dueled it out amongst themselves in a stunning battle for second, and it was again Lorenzo who took it.

The Red Bull Ring looked, on paper, like it would be a three-way scrap for the win – but no. As the final few laps dawned it had boiled down to another classic showdown between the current riders to have won the Championship since 2010. Marquez was on the limit, Lorenzo was on the limit, and it was another one for the history books – much like the Marquez vs Dovi battle of 2017. But this time the reigning Champion couldn’t make a final move happen, and Lorenzo was uncontested – a tenth ahead over the line.

That makes the number 99 only the second man – joining Dovizioso, who became the first at Motegi last year – to have beaten Marquez in a last lap battle after Marquez began that last lap in the lead.

Now we head to Silverstone, and the track that, five years ago, saw the two fight it out for the win for the first time. Will it stage another showdown? And looking a little further into the future, the rivalry will take another step as Marquez and Lorenzo get ready to share a garage and a team.  

Then, the gloves may really come off…

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