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NEWS

A conversation with Jorge Lorenzo

Jun 012016

It doesn't matter that Jorge Lorenzo rides a motorcycle. He could hit, throw or kick a ball. Run, jump or swim or aim. The fact that his co-ordination, aptitude, tactility and that special hint of magic - all the things that go into the elixir that we generally refer to as talent – has fostered him to the very top of his chosen vocation means that he is quite an exceptional human being. He is MotoGP world champion and a multiple title winner at that. He has just turned twenty-nine and has waded through a career that has seen the Majorcan veer between managers, groups of friends and advisers and a tumultuous relationship with his father to moments of utter poetry on two wheels, adoration, fame and riches in a sport where it could all be over in the time it takes to lay a black strip of rubber on the asphalt.

We grabbed fifteen minutes with one of motorsports supreme athletes…

We remember being sent a press release from the Derbi race team to translate from Spanish to English on the second day of the 2002 Grand Prix at Jerez. It was your fifteenth birthday and you could officially take part in your first Grand Prix. Now you’ve just turned twenty-nine so almost half of your life has been in this paddock; does it feel like it many things have passed?

Yeah, yeah, because my professional - as well as personal - life has changed a lot. I changed teams, categories but also changed friends, managers and people around me. So many people. Many good things – and bad things – have happened in these fourteen years of my career in the world championship. I have learned a lot and made a big evolution as a rider, a professional and as an athlete. Many things.

I recall also seeing a documentary on you when you were winning races and the first title in the 250cc category a few years on from that debut. You were working out in the gym, polishing a six-pack and were very honest by saying you were a bit of a show-off. That guy seems like a very different person now. How do you feel about that past?

[smiles] I think I was a little bit shy and I think I wanted to cover it and not show it. I wanted to show that I was harder and stronger than perhaps I was. I had an attitude, and used words in interviews to show to the people that I was strong and I had very clear personal goals. From the outside, people who read these interviews or saw me on the TV could then think I was quite arrogant, no? Dry, no? I think this is the view – even though it is much less – of what some fans of MotoGP still have. Now I don't have so much to do with ‘this guy’ when I was seventeen or eighteen. I changed a lot but I never changed this way of acting when I am in the pit box and those few minutes before I get on the bike. I keep being very serious and very focussed. I cannot make jokes in front of the camera like other riders do. And I don't want to. I don't want to change my way to work or to ‘be’ to impress the fans. I want to be like I am; if you like it then good if not… It is my life and I will live it like I want; not like you or the other people want me to act.

Was there ever a time when you needed an escape from that focus? When you thought ‘f**k, I need a break…’? If you look at supercross or motocross it seems that those guys can only really switch off when they’re injured…

Yeah. If you have talent - like I think I have – then you can do it two ways. You can be pleased to finish third, fourth, fifth, sixth and stay on many years, earn your money and go home. Or profit from your talent to the maximum and work very hard all day, eight hours a day in the gym or on a bike and trying to think ‘how can I be better?’. That is the way I chose a long time ago; to sacrifice a big part of my life to get the best result and performance I can achieve. I could have chosen the other way and win a few races and go for the top three and stay ten years more here...but it is not my way to live or to be.

But do goals change? One year you want a title, another to make as much money to buy the dream house, another to beat a certain rider. I remember Jean-Michel Bayle saying that aside from all the titles he just wanted someone to tell him that on one particular day he was riding so nice, so perfectly. I wondered if you were the same? Especially the way you ride a motorcycle…

Everybody has different motivation and you can find it in different ways. Some will be about the money, another who wants to impress and some who just want to be better and better every day. When I feel pressure – and when I am nervous – I just want to improve every lap and like this I can take away the pressure. This is one of my secrets: to make each lap better. If you start to think about what could happen in the race – especially the negative thoughts – then you start to feel stressed. Over the years I have thought only about the next lap and to improve the riding from the previous lap.

"Or profit from your talent to the maximum and work very hard all day, eight hours a day in the gym or on a bike and trying to think ‘how can I be better?"

What is the ‘the ultimate’ for you Jorge? You’ve ridden perfect races, won so much, earned money, done charity work and helped kids: what’s the best thing you can take from life?

Life can be very simple but also very complicated. There are many things that are so important: the friends, the family, the economical situation – where you have to be careful because someone else can play with your money and make wrong decisions – and you have to try to find that compromise between working very hard but also enjoying it. You will never be twenty-five or twenty-eight again! Sometimes I think ‘why do I continue this life and keep sacrificing? But another part of me says if I stop then I am wasting something; the talent I have and it can bring me many positive things in life. It is hard to stop.

Just watching your social media channels it seems that you don’t have too much time on your hands. In between races you have a lot going on…

For sure I have the opportunity to enjoy life and some of the best of it but my ambition and my perfectionism does not allow me to enjoy it fully because I want to get the best of myself and the best results and to use my career fully. It means there is not much time but, well, for example at the beginning of my career I did not party after a win. Now I’ll have something going on in the motorhome and will have a few beers, some music and dancing with my team. Apart from those moments…my life is like a Buddist! It is not like you imagine a ‘70s racer like Barry Sheene or James Hunt to be. If you live that way then you cannot be at the top. It is a different era. It is not impossible to enjoy things like in the past if you want to win and be there for the world championship.

When you go home and close the door and you are alone or with the girlfriend is it possible to leave ‘Jorge Lorenzo No.99’ outside?

Yeah. It is important to find that compromise. I am good at switching off mentally. When I am in the gym I am fully concentrated. When I am at home with the PlayStation or going to the cinema with friends or with my girlfriend then I am totally for them; it is important to make the separation.

So now twenty-nine…you’re not old by any stretch of the imagination but I suppose MotoGP must be hard physically. Those crashes must cause some aches that make some mornings pretty tough…

Before when you were fifteen-twenty then after a hard race on Monday you still felt like a new baby! Now it is harder. When you party now you need two days to recover! It can be like a marathon after a hard race and the worse part is that it gets worse every year! I’m twenty-nine not close to forty when it will be worse again. It is important to keep the diet, train hard and keep positive thinking and enjoy what you are doing. We can see with [Valentino] Rossi that with The Ranch and the young people around him he seems younger and it gives him the energy to keep going in MotoGP. It is important to have the dream and the motivation to keep going.

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