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Cycle World Interview: Jorge Lorenzo

Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo has one goal in mind: winning his third MotoGP title and writing his name in the MotoGP history book as the man who beat the three strongest riders of the last 20 years—Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, and Marc Marquez. Halfway through the 2015 season, the hunt for the MotoGP title is between the two Yamaha riders, Lorenzo and Rossi.  

CW: How would you describe yourself with a tweet?

JL: Curious, perfectionist, consistent. I’m like a diesel: I give my best at the end of the race. In a marathon I’m better in the last hour.

CW: And your bike? 

JL: Precise, smooth, good chassis, smooth engine, competitive. Just have a look at the last seven years!

CW: Do you feel stronger than ever?

JL: Last year. I was the rider who scored the most points from the German GP to Valencia. This year, the Yamaha-Lorenzo package works even better. We have a competitive bike that allowed me to win four races in a row. My preparation is similar to last year; it’s more of a technical thing. Together with Valentino, we won seven out of eight races. In the first races I couldn’t express my real potential due some issues (the helmet in Qatar, I was sick in Texas, I made the wrong tire choice in Argentina). But all in all, the technical package has improved. 

CW: Can you say that your Yamaha is better than a Honda? 

JL: We cannot say that because I haven't tried the other bike. We need to consider the whole picture. In Qatar, Marc [Marquez] went straight at the first corner. He could have won the race. He won in Texas and was leading in Argentina until he crashed on the last lap. He was 2nd in Jerez, he struggled in Le Mans, but he was fast and scored the pole position. Just think at Mugello: He started 13th and suddenly he was 2nd, but he crashed. In Montmelo, he was behind me and crashed. If the bike is bad as some in the paddock say, he wouldn't be able to get these results. The problem is that he crashed three times, ruling himself out of the title hunt. 

CW: Which are Yamaha's strongest points? 

JL: Last year, we were losing a lot in the braking points. In one lap, we could be one- or two-tenths faster than Honda in terms of corner speed or acceleration, but we were losing two- to three-tenths in braking, so in the end we were slower. We improved the corner entry, but we were able to keep good corner speed and good acceleration. Now we are one- or two-tenths faster in corner speed and we lose just a half-tenth under braking. This is the difference. What do we still miss? I would say a little bit of braking. We improved probably by 70 percent and also the power. We are down 5 km/h  on the straight. If we have to battle with a Honda at the same level, this could be a disadvantage.  

CW: What is Valentino's most dangerous side as title contender? 

JL: He is a Sunday rider: He is much stronger in the race rather than on a single lap in qualifying. He is a great fighter, he has experience, and doesn't make many mistakes. We are quite similar in terms of consistency. Maybe I can be faster at the beginning of the race and I can make a better lap in qualifying. 

CW: How has your relationship with Valentino changed throughout the years?

JL:  We are two champions. We have strong personalities. We both want to win and to beat each other. When I joined Yamaha in 2008, Valentino was the King, in the garage and in the paddock. He tried to save and mark his territory and of course this didn’t help to create a good atmosphere. You know the story. After three years, he joined Ducati and I got two world titles with Yamaha. When he returned in 2013, the situation was different. We cannot say that we are friends, but there is a lot of respect. There is no friendship in the paddock; we are here to fight for the title. Yamaha is here to win.

CW: Has the arrival of Marc Marquez in MotoGP improved your relationship with Number 46?  

JL: In a way, yes. In 2013, we worked a lot together trying to improve the M1 to beat Marquez. We are two very precise riders with a similar riding style, so we often have similar problems. This helped the development of the bike. The scenario is different this year because we are two Yamaha riders contending the title. But let’s not forget that Marc will be back competitive. 

CW: You are the only rider who has beaten Rossi on the same bike

JL: Outside the track, we have two different personalities. Valentino has a lot of fans. He is the King of the paddock, but I won’t change my personality because of him. On the contrary, I have an advantage on track: I’m eight years younger! When I joined Yamaha, I was just 20 years old. I knew I had eight years ahead of me to arrive to Valentino’s level. All the pressure was on him. Then things went fast: pole position at the debut race and a victory at the third race. Results arrived sooner than expected. This gave me a lot of confidence, maybe too much. In fact, I crashed many times in my first years also because the Michelin tires were tough to understand. Because I was younger, if I was able to beat Valentino, it was like a present. If I didn’t, it was just normal. The secret was to be aware that I had time. Despite that, I always opened the throttle and tried to go fast.

CW: How have you changed as a man?

JL: Experience in life always makes the difference. It makes you improve as a person. Now I am more quiet. I prefer to be like this, rather than explosive as I was when I was younger. 

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