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Lorenzo Baldassari at the 2017 Grand Prix of Qatar
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Walking to a different tune: 10 minutes with Moto2 star Lorenzo Baldassari

Oct 182017

‘Spectacular’ is a word you can apply to Moto2 VR46 Academy star Lorenzo Baldassarri (two ‘s’ and two ‘r’s). The tall Italian has taken part in some thrilling Grand Prix racing – Mugello 2016 and a tight chase with eventual world champion Johann Zarco immediately comes to mind – but has also tasted the tough and painful side of the sport; his concussion-inducing launch from the Forward Racing Kalex at this year’s Dutch Grand Prix at Assen a very visual example.

 

‘Balda’, still only 20, is a charismatic member of the virulent development programme established by MotoGP icon Valentino Rossi with its base close to the Yamaha rider’s home in Tavullia. Baldassarri’s peer Franco Morbidelli might be basking in the Moto2 limelight thanks to his eight GP wins this year and lead in the championship standings but the Marc VDS rider has some tough company on a daily basis with the Forward man and the likes of Sky Racing Team VR46’s Pecco Bagnaia – Baldassarri’s housemate no less – also in close proximity.

 

We meet Lorenzo in the confines of his Forward race truck offices. The space is grey, tidy and functional and after three years competing for the squad #7 is moving to seek a different dynamic with Sito Pons’ team for 2018…but he still has some work to do for his current set-up.

 

Softly spoken and high pitched in a good grasp of English, Balda describes life very much in the spotlight as a Grand Prix winner and as one of Rossi’s ‘band of brothers’ that mix life, training and learning from the 38 year old. At one point he deadpans a comment about his Forward team that causes nearby press officer Maria Pohlmann to widen her eyes in alarm but then cracks up at his own joke. Baldassarri is an athlete very much on the edge: not just in the way he cranks every possible piece of potential from the Kalex but also his position on the cusp of making large waves in the Moto2 division.

"I do remember going crazy when I saw a motorbike! I tried my first bike before I was four; a 50cc motocross bike. It was a passion from my cousin and my uncle. He had a bike and bought one for his son but he wasn't interested, whereas I was desperate to try!"

You have competition all around you in Moto2 but some of it is closer to home. How has it been living but also racing with Pecco?

It is strange this year because we’re in the same category and we’re also living together…but it is also quite funny. We have a good relationship and have a lot of respect and it’s two years now we’re sharing a place. We also train together and obviously have the VR46 Academy with the other guys, but honestly during the season we don't see each other too much because we’re not at the house too much. We’re always travelling or busy doing something. In the winter we’re together more and will take turns cooking and experimenting with the food.

How did it all begin for you?

I don't remember exactly at what age but I do remember going crazy when I saw a motorbike! I tried my first bike before I was four; a 50cc motocross bike. It was a passion from my cousin and my uncle. He had a bike and bought one for his son but he wasn't interested, whereas I was desperate to try! My Dad said I wasn't allowed because I couldn't ride a bicycle without support so I remember crying a lot. I quickly took the stabilisers away and in the end my Dad got me one.

If you google your name then one word that is immediately linked is ‘height’. Does it get tiring that people make a big deal of this?

In Moto3 it was a problem but in Moto2 and MotoGP it is a positive thing to be able to control the bike. I’m less aerodynamic and maybe lose a bit of speed but I win in terms of control and can use my body to turn the bike.

Mugello 2016 was a fantastic fight with Johann Zarco for the win. How does it feel to handle the bike like that and be part of such a close battle?

When you find the right balance – like we have been trying to do this year but I missed the winter tests – and you understand the bike and it feels perfect, or maybe it is not perfect but you can trust it and know the limits, then you can really use the strong points. Being in a close fight is one of the best parts of racing. It is nice to win…but winning a big battle is almost perfect. It is nice for you and also the fans.

Anything else about Lorenzo Baldassarri that we should know?

I’m really into sports. Tennis, volleyball; anything. I especially like fishing, getting out on the lake with friends. I like to enjoy life and that can be easy with the Academy guys. Fishing is the opposite of racing, much more quiet and that's why its nice. I liked ‘opposites’ as a child and I quickly knew that it was a way to switch off, to recharge the batteries. For example I used to play the piano. Now I am fishing! I stopped the piano because I could not practice it enough at home and also dedicate myself to bikes and the training.

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