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Considered Reasons About the Retirement of MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo


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Downturn beyond expectation due to injury

Jorge Lorenzo of REPSOL HONDA, who won 3 times world championship in MotoGP of the highest class, announced that he will retire from the race at the end of this 2019 season. According to a press conference held just before the Valencia GP of the final round, he said that he was unable to perform fully due to repeated injuries in this season and to maintain his motivation for the race.

Let’s travel back through time a little. Lorenzo, who transferred from DUCATI to REPSOL HONDA with great fanfare before the 2019 season, got off on the wrong foot because he was injured during the pre-season training without healing his wrist injury that was gotten at Thai GP of the previous season. In addition, he fell down and damaged his ribs during the free practice of the Qatar GP that is the opening race of the season, and, in the next Catalonia test in June, he fell down again from the front and crashed into the air fence at high speed. Then, he crashed again in the Round 8th Dutch GP and suffered a serious damage of thoracic fracture, a life-threatening injury to the rider. He is exactly tattered. It was hard to see the pitiful figure of Lorenzo riding near the rear of a line of the race in the final race, even though he returned to the race from the 12th round British GP.

Although he was given the strongest machine in the world’s strongest factory team, he was in an unexpected slump. Lorenzo also must have been ashamed of himself who couldn’t get a satisfying result in spite of the huge expectations of the team, the sponsors, and the fans around the world. In his retirement press conference, it was fortunate that I was able to see his smile, a sign of relief from the anguish.

Every time a rider is injured, they slow down little by little.

I can’t imagine the pressure of competing for a championship in the highest motorsport world, but I’m writing this article with the desire to be close to Lorenzo’s feelings.

A former WGP rider told me, “every time a rider is injured, they slow down little by little”. Accumulation of physical damage may cause the rider to not be able to control their body the way they imagine. In addition, Other than that, it seems that the mind unconsciously makes put on the brakes, when the most important time in the race. “I am possessed by a fear”, he said after the crash at the Assen Grand Prix. Of course, there may be riders who are strong for injury, but Lorenzo must had overworked in his long career since he made his WGP125cc debut at the age of 15.

Struggling himself to adapt to the machine

In the last few years, Lorenzo has been struggling to adapt to the machine. In 2017, he transferred to DUCATI from YAMAHA, but he was puzzled by the difference in the characteristics of both machines, which he described as “exactly opposite”, and he finally won his first victory at the Italian Grand Prix on June 2018. The timing was bad such as announcing a new contract with HONDA after winning with 3 victories with finally accustoming to the machine.

And, the 2019 season. I think that Lorenzo himself was very expecting to get the RC213V works machine by leaking the true intention that “every GP rider longs for” at HONDA of his new home. But this machine seemed to be even more difficult.

Great existence of Marquez

It is just my imagination but perhaps the existence of Marquez with so much speed and talent was too big. It does not only mean about mental pressure. I think RC213V has already been a special specs for Marquez, who has won the title over the years. The proof is that other HONDA riders such as Cal Crutchlow and Nakagami had also struggled, and their comments indicate that the current RC213V is difficult to ride.

MotoGP machines have become more and more powerful in recent years. It may be because HONDA also attaches great importance to traditional engine power, but it seems the RC213V is difficult to get a grip feeling of the front tire. Only Marquez continues to overcome this with a unique sense of balance between the elbow sliding (elbow down) and front tire sliding. Anyone can’t disagree with this way in the championship world where the important is only the result.

He didn’t have enough time to master how to ride on the RC213V.

Well, if you say that Lorenzo is less talented, the answer is “NO”. In fact, he was the only man who blocked Marquez’s annual title in 2015, having won 3 titles in the highest class. It was for 7 years in the YAMAHA team that Lorenzo was the most outstanding.

Having previously won the WGP250 class for 2 consecutive years, Lorenzo’s strength lies in smooth cornering with high turning speeds. I think it was a way of riding that also fit the traditional “YAMAHA handling”. With a stable grip riding method, he won the victory with the front‐runner pattern at the climax, but the front tire grip force was indispensable to increase the corner entry speed by this method.

However, the current RC213V may not had matched Lorenzo’s style. And he didn’t have enough time to build a machine that matched for him. Considering that, would it be a selfish fans’ psychology that we wanted to watch him to stick for another year in the HONDA team.

If possible, I want to watch his riding with a lot of guts again.

While Lorenzo declared that he will no longer return to professional racing, he is quite sure to receive offers from other factory teams like Dani Pedrosa, who is said to have made a significant contribution to the development of the MotoGP machine as a test rider of KTM after left REPSOL HONDA last season. Since Lorenzo is still young at the age of 32, I’m personally hoping that he will try again at the Superbike World Championships as an active rider.

Lorenzo’s retirement is regrettable, but whatever the circumstances, he remains a great champion at all. I would like him to take the re-charging period slowly to maintain his inner strength and health condition and come back to the racing world with a cheerful and energetic appearance. And, if dream comes true, we would like to see his aggressive way of riding full of guts once again.

[Kenny Sagawa Related Columns]
The reason for Marquez’s “Elbow Down” is to detect the front sliding!

See HONDA Moto Index Page
See YAMAHA Moto Index Page
See KTM Moto Index Page

Kentaro (Kenny) Sagawa

Kentaro (Kenny) Sagawa

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Motorcycle Journalist
 Kenny become freelance journalist at the age of 32 after working at several IT and marketing companys. Working as a magazine editor, he is currently working as one of the most famous motorcycle journalist in Japan and activly working to diffuse "safety riding" through magazines and web media.
・Chief editor of "Webike Moto News".
・Principal of "Riding Academy Tokyo".
・Representative of "Moto Maniacs Co., Ltd."
・Traffic psychologist of "The Japan Association of Traffic Psychology".
・MFJ (Motorcycle Federation of Japan) certified instructor.

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