Jorge Lorenzo

MotoGP – Viñales shines, Lorenzo crumbles in season opener at Qatar

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Rain, delays and uncertainty all combined to create a spectacle at the opening race of the season, one which is easy to criticse but difficult to manage – unless you’re, Maverick Viñales, who kept his cool to deliver a riding masterclass on his competitive debut on the Factory Yamaha.

A stunning start from Ducati’s Andrea Iannone from P2 was soon overshadowed as rookie Johann Zarco slammed his Tech 3 Yamaha into the lead in the first laps, getting away and making a gap as Viñales found himself falling back into the clutches of teammate Valentino Rossi.

The Tech 3 rider looked comfortable at the front, pulling out a gap before sliding out of the lead soon after – leaving ‘DesmoDovi’ out front.

With the number 4 Ducati getting away in the lead, Iannone then crashed out of the fight for second – leaving reigning Champion Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda, Viñales and Rossi chasing the leading Desmosedici. After a dramatic scuffle between the #46 and 93, the ‘Doctor’ set off in pursuit of his teammate.

And then there were three: Viñales, Dovizioso, and Rossi.

It wasn’t long, however, before there was some fresh air between the leading two and The Doctor, a battle which saw Viñales’ corner speed pitched against the sheer might of the Ducati. After trading places for a few laps and the race impossible to call, the Spaniard was then able to hold off the Italian on the penultimate lap – and made it to the line to take his second MotoGP win; his first in Yamaha colours.

Viñales said: “I feel incredible and it shows in the results. We did a great job during the whole weekend and we started good in the test, then in FP1 we were already feeling really good.

“The race was difficult, it started to rain and there was a bit of confusion because we didn’t know what to do. The first laps were very challenging, the track was so slippery and I wanted to take it easy and stay calm. I knew I had a good pace, so I tried to push at the very end of the race.

“There were many crashes at the front, so I waited for the right moment and finally we took the victory. The feeling when I crossed the line was incredible. As the first victory with Yamaha, it was even more important than the first MotoGP victory, because there was so much pressure. We were leading all the test, “You can do it”, and finally we did, so I’m happy how I handled the pressure and also that the team worked really good. The electronics were ready and the grip of the tyres was really good on the last laps. The third sector was honestly so crucial, because Andrea [Dovizioso] used the soft tyres, so he collected the benefits and could accelerate better all the time and he didn’t waste the tyre, so it was hard to beat him, but in sector three I was really strong the whole weekend.

“I set my best sector three on the last lap and it was the minimum to take the victory, it’s really great, I’m so happy. I hope for a perfect start in Argentina. The start here was good, but I just went outside of the line and when Zarco came he crashed into me, so I had to pick up the bike and then Marquez and Dovi passed me so it was a bit chaotic on the early laps, but then I was able to concentrate. We have to continue like that and maintain this concentration.”

Reigning champion Marquez crossed the line fourth, just ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa by the flag – who took fifth after getting the better of Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia; Espargaro’s result was a historic first top six for Aprilia in the stunning first ride in Noale colours for the rider from Granollers.

Impressive performances from Scott Redding on the Pramac Ducati and Jack Miller on the Marc VDS Honda saw the two men come home in P7 and P8, with Suzuki’s Alex Rins top rookie in P9 – just ahead of YamahaTech 3 rider Jonas Folger, who completed the top ten.

It was a difficult ride for Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo, with the wet conditions once again messing with the Spaniard’s head. He went wide on the first lap after a solid start, down to near the back of the grid after carefully rejoining and then beginning a steady fight back through the field. Up into tenth with 12 laps to go, the ‘Spartan’ crossed the line in P11 by the end of play – a disappointing end to his debut. And one which must have Ducati wondering whether the money they’ve spent enticing Lorenzo into the red corner would have been better spent coaxing their test rider into coming out of retirement; Stoner would definitely not have folded in such a spectacular fashion.

 

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MotoGP – Lorenzo rides ‘best ever’ lap to claim Misano pole

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Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo took a record-breaking pole position at Misano World Circuit, beating his own pole lap from 2015 and putting in the first ever 1:31 lap of the Adriatic venue.

The Spaniard had been written off by many in the paddock as he struggles to gel with the Michelin tyres, but Lorenzo the reigning champion struck back in style, putting in a new lap record in qualifying to beat his own from 2015, laying down a marker at a track that, while behind enemy lines, has proven one of the Mallorcan’s best.

After just missing the 1:31 bracket in that first run, the ‘Spartan’ then came back out and lowered the lap time once again to put in 1:31.868 and smash the record. The pole at Misano is his 64th in the world championship – taking him one above Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and local idol Valentino Rossi.

Lorenzo said: “I was delighted with these lap times because already the first one was unbelievable, a 1’32.0s, but with riding over the limit more than normal I was able to improve this lap time by two tenths. When I saw I got pole I was delighted and very proud and I probably made the best lap ever for me. We made great progress with the setting, improving the bike little by little in all the corners, and in qualifying I had a great bike. Let’s try to improve the small details for tomorrow, but I think we have a great pace to fight at least for the podium and let’s see if we can fight for the win.”

Team-mate Rossi was half a second behind Lorenzo in second, with Suzuki’s Maverick Viñales finishing third quickest. Marc Marquez qualified fourth, ahead of the Ducati factory duo of Michele Pirro, who is replacing the injured Andrea Iannone, and Andrea Dovizioso.

LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow heads up the third row as top Independent Team rider from Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, with Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro Yamaha’s Pol Espargaro completing the top ten.

MotoGP – Lorenzo snatches dramatic Mugello win

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It was a day of mixed fortunes for the Yamaha MotoGP squad with reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo securing a brilliant victory in the Gran Premio d’Italia after snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

His achievement is the more remarkable after his engine let go in spectacular fashion during the warm-up, a fate which also struck team-mate Valentino Rossi, although the Italian’s failed in spectacular style during the race itself.

Jorge Lorenzo rode his signature race, fighting through the grid to take the holeshot going into the first corner. With his team-mate on his tail, he led across the line after the first lap, but it soon became clear his fellow Yamaha rider would not go down without a fight. The Doctor made a pass going into Turn One, but Lorenzo was not shaken and quickly regained the lead as the Italian ran wide.

With a clear track ahead the #99 rider tried to make a break, putting in metronomic lap after metronomic lap, but he was unable to shake Rossi who continued to pile on the pressure, ready to seize any opportunity to pass. However, the smooth Spaniard left no space for him to slip past and made sure to brake at the last possible moment every time going into turn one to keep the lead.

Lorenzo rode defensively until Rossi retired after his engine lunched itself in spectacular style. However, there was no rest for Lorenzo as Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez caught the Yamaha man with ten laps to go. With five points between them in the championship, the two Spaniards traded blows in some close racing, Marquez constantly probing and attacking, taking the lead diving into corners, but unable to get the Honda stopped on the brakes, allowing Lorenzo to slip inside.

The last lap saw a series of brutal moves, with Lorenzo making an unexpected overtaking manoeuvre in the Scarperia corner. It didn’t stick, but Lorenzo used his experience and launched his YZR-M1 out of the last corner to get the tow and steal the victory, his third of the season, as he crossed the line just 0.019s ahead of Marquez.

The win is Yamaha’s hundredth premier class win of the modern four-stroke era, and their third consecutive first place of the 2016 season.

Speaking after the race, Jorge Lorenzo said: “It was an unexpected race, because we thought that Iannone and Viñales, who had a very high pace, would be fighting until the end for the victory, but in the end it was Marquez. “He didn’t look like he had the pace in the practice sessions, but he was following me the whole race. I tried to escape, pushing so much on the changes in direction and I used a lot of energy.

“I thought I maybe I didn’t have enough to fight with Marc for the victory, because with him riding behind me he maybe saved more energy and was more powerful at the end, but my luck was the engine this time. When I stayed behind him I thought I was losing the race and tried a bit of a crazy move that I pulled on De Angelis in 250cc in the race in 2005. This memory was in my head, so I said to myself “Why not try the same?” and did it.

“I passed him but went wide and he overtook me again. In the last corner I tried again under braking, but he closed the door so much that if I had released the brake maybe we could have touched and crashed together, so I decided to stay in second place and make a lot of speed in the last corner and exit with the slipstream and try. When I exited the corner I thought I was losing the race, but my bike caught up with him so much, it was a surprising win.

“In Moto3 we often see races like this, but in MotoGP this kind of finish doesn’t happen often. Today, if I had been fighting with Rossi or Iannone, I wouldn’t have won, it was a crazy battle.”

Team-mate Rossi was not so fortunate – starting from pole position, the Italian made a strong start and slotted in behind Lorenzo going into turn one. Determined not to let the Spaniard get away, Rossi briefly took the lead in the second lap of the race going into turn one, but had to hand it back when he ran wide. With the massive support from his fans cheering him on, the Doctor kept as close to Lorenzo as possible while keeping Marquez at a distance, but his race ended prematurely with 15 laps to go when his engine let go.

Lorenzo’s 25 point haul from Mugello keeps him in first position in the championship standings, with 115 points. He has a ten-point lead over Marquez and is 37 points ahead of Rossi in third place.

MotoGP – Rossi claims sensational pole at Mugello, Lorenzo reignites fued

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Valentino Rossi claimed a sensational pole at Mugello yesterday, using a tow off next year’s team-mate Maveric Viñales to devastating effect.

The move reignited the bad blood between the Doctor and current team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, with the Spaniard accusing Rossi and Viñales of working together to improve the veteran’s starting position.

The reigning world champion, who struggled to match his pre-qualifying form, said: “Was it a coincidence that Rossi and Viñales just happened to find each other on track? Well if it’s a coincidence, it’s a coincidence which has been repeated five or six times. So to have so many repeated coincidences… But it could be. Who knows?”

Marc Marquez, the two-time world champion who had a spectacular falling out with Rossi last season, was less cryptic. He said: “I was watching the practice and I saw that Viñales did the time behind Valentino and then the opposite. It looks like they speak and they organize.”

Rossi responded with his trademark humour, dismissing the accusations by saying that he was very scared they would send a note home to his mother for copying from another student.

However, he was clearly irked at the suggestions, and told the Italian media that Lorenzo should have the decency not to talk about riders conspiring together, once again fanning the fire of his own conspiracy that Lorenzo and Márquez had worked together to prevent Rossi from winning the 2015 championship.

Sunday’s race just got a whole load more interesting…

MotoGP – Lorenzo pens two-year Ducati deal

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Ducati has announced that reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo has signed a two-year deal to ride for the Italian Factory team.

“Ducati announces that it has reached an agreement with Jorge Lorenzo whereby the Spaniard will compete in the MotoGP World Championship in 2017 and 2018 on the Ducati Desmosedici GP Ducati Team. Lorenzo was born in Palma de Mallorca 4 May 1987, in his sporting career he won five championship titles in MotoGP (250cc in 2006 and 2007 and in MotoGP in 2010, 2012 and 2015).”

The latest round of MotoGP musical chairs means there is now a Yamaha Factory seat up for grabs, with the smart money on Maverick Vinales to make the move. And it is still unclear who will partner Lorenzo in the Ducati hot seat, although Andrea Iannone is thought to be favourite to retain his ride.

MotoGP – Lorenzo set to leave Yamaha at end of season

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Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. has announced that its partnership with Jorge Lorenzo will be discontinued at the close of the 2016 MotoGP season, when Lorenzo will move on to new racing challenges.

Since Lorenzo joined the Yamaha Factory Racing Team in 2008, Lorenzo and Yamaha won three MotoGP World Championships (2010, 2012 and 2015), clinched 41 race wins and have been on the podium 99 times out of 141 races contested.

A statement from the manufacturer stated: “Yamaha is extremely grateful for Jorge’s contributions to its racing successes and looks forward to sharing more memorable moments during the remaining 15 MotoGP rounds of 2016, their ninth season together.

“Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. wishes Lorenzo the very best in his future racing endeavours and reconfirms the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team‘s full support on his campaign to achieve his fourth MotoGP title.

“Having already reconfirmed Valentino Rossi for 2017-18, Yamaha will announce the future Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team riders‘ line-up in due course after securing the services of the second rider.”

The news means Lorenzo will be unveiled as a Ducati rider very soon.

MotoGP – Lorenzo gets title defence off to perfect start

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Reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo started the defence of his crown in sensational style after a dominant performance to claim the first win of the season at the Grand Prix of Qatar.

Lorenzo had been strong at the Losail International Circuit the whole weekend and raceday was no exception, with the Yamaha man putting his contractual issues aside to ride a faultless race from start to finish.

Lorenzo’s race went according to plan at the start of the opening race when he had a perfect launch off the line from pole position. He led for the first lap, but was chased by Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso on the Ducatis. Iannone looked particularly quick, and Lorenzo had no answer early on as he was forced to let the squabbling duo pass, but after Iannone lost the front and crashed out, the Yamaha rider took his chance to make a charge for the lead for the second time. With 14 laps to go, he smoothly passed Dovizioso and continued to increase his pace.

With clear a track in front of him, the Majorcan was in his element, and he set a new fastest race lap record of 1’54.927s, before slowly building a comfortable lead. He eventually crossed the line for the final time with a +2.019s lead over Dovizioso, with Marquez claiming the final podium spot.

Lorenzo said: “We are there, in first position, without struggling and suffering and riding in the perfect way. For me, over all laps, this race has been one of the best of my whole career and that was why I was able to win and could make this little difference in the last three laps that gave me the victory.

“It was a little down and up with the tyres. We made the decision to put on the soft rear tyre, because with the hard one we couldn’t be so fast. The harder compound should become better and better, but I think what happened was the opposite. The softer tyre should get worse and worse, but it was faster and faster so this little difference was the difference between me and Dovizioso and Marquez.

“I was surprised how fast my pace was towards the end of the race. I was sliding so much, but at the same time I was very smooth and concentrated and made no mistakes and that’s why even with the pressure from Dovizioso, when I was at a margin of 0.4, .03, 0.5, I didn’t get nervous and kept riding better and better. I feel very proud of my riding and my race and also the work of the team, because we put together the electronics and the setting of the bike in a very good way.”

MotoGP – Lorenzo claims pole in season opener in Qatar

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The front of the MotoGP grid had a familiar feel to it as reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo claimed the first pole position of the season under the floodlights in Qatar.

The Movistar Yamaha rider clocked a sensational time of 1m 55.543s on his very first flying lap, despite predictions that the new Michelin tyres would take a few laps to be warm enough to generate enough grip to post a fast time.

With Lorenzo on pole, and able to exploit the grip from the tyres on his first lap, it looks like tomorrow’s race may follow last season’s pattern – Lorenzo puts the hammer down and heads into the distance.

However, fellow Spaniard Marc Marquez will be doing his all to ensure his compatriot doesn’t have things all his own way after claiming second position with a time just 0.091s behind Lorenzo.

They’re joined on the front row by Maverick Viñales, who stuck his Suzuki GSX-RR in third, posting his fastest time on his final lap in 1m 54.638s to finish 0.95s off the top.

MotoGP – no rift between Yamaha factory duo

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Yamaha MotoGP bosses have said there will be no return of the garage wall and that there is no rift between World champion Jorge Lorenzo and runner-up Valentino Rossi.

The pair enjoyed a fractious end to the season in 2015 after Rossi’s campaign unravelled following his sensational press conference in Sepang where he accused Marquez of wanting Lorenzo to win the title. Rossi was leading the championship at the time, but the consequences of his outburst live on – Rossi forced Marquez off track during the race, the Spaniard crashed out and the Italian was forced to start the final race from the back of the grid, thus thwarting his bid for a tenth world title.

Despite this acrimony between the riders, which was compounded by Lorenzo’s public condemnation of Rossi, both demonstrably on the podium, and verbally in various press conferences, Yamaha’s Team Director, Massimo Meregalli has said he expects there to be no ill feeling between the duo over the coming season.

He said: “I don’t see that it will be difficult dealing with the two riders together, no different than last year or the year before. I was prepared to have some troubles when Vale came back to the team in 2013, but it never happened and I don’t expect it to happen next year or in the future.”

Yamaha Motor Racing’s Managing Director, Lin Jarvis, agreed that the team remained as one and that last season’s fight for supremacy between its star rider would have no effects on the upcoming assault for honours.

He said: “There’s no reason to put a wall in the garage. One of our strengths is the fact that the team works really well together. We realise that the riders are individually competitors of each other but the team, the mechanics, the crew chiefs and engineers all work really well together and if we put a barrier or wall in the garage it will be to the deficit of the team, both riders and the engineers.”

MotoGP – Rossi needs ‘special effort’ to secure 10th world title this year

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Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi has said it will take a ‘special effort’ to be in a position to challenge for the MotoGP crown this year.

remain at a level where he can fight for the MotoGP World Championship this year.

This year’s runner-up, who turns 37 next month, acknowledges the superhuman effort required to take on the much younger competition, and this, when combined with the new tyres and electronics being introduced this year, means the Italian will need to be at the very top of his game.

He said: “I think I have to give a special effort to try and stay at the same level of the last two years. This is the target because in the last two years, especially in 2015, I was competitive more or less everywhere. Whether we’ll be able to fight to win the championship I don’t know.

“Last year the start was fantastic; in the first part of the season I was ready to be very fast but you never know. This year it is like you start from another point because of the new tyres, everyone needs to understand what will happen in a race weekend and also in the race so it will be different and difficult but we will try to be ready from the beginning.

“When you become older you try to use your experience to bridge the gap. It is interesting but the feeling to race a motorcycle and also to work during the weekend has to be the same, you have to find the right motivation and the right concentration. The rivals are all very strong so it will be interesting.”

Rossi enters the upcoming season with his contract up for grabs, a fate all the Yamaha riders face. His main challengers are expected to be team-mate, and world champion, Jorge Lorenzo, and fierce rival Marc Marquez.

Rossi, ever the optimist, refused to be downbeat about his campaign last season, when he seemed to unravel following a bizarre press conference where he accused Marquez of wanting Lorenzo to win the title.

He said:  “The end of last year was quite difficult but it is like it is. At the end I am happy about the 2015 season. I enjoyed it a lot and fought for the championship until the last race, the rest is the past. From today we will start with the new season from the beginning and it will be hard but I will try to stay at the same level.