Business as normal. The blue ‘99’ M1 flying and kissing curb stones, Alpinestars leathers sweet with podium champagne and a world champion with a smile: Jorge Lorenzo was back on the boil in Austria last weekend as MotoGP clicked into the second half of the 2016 campaign. The Spaniard had been hurting in Catalunya, Assen and Germany and had a three-week summer break to stew over a dip of form in poor weather and the end of a four-podium streak. Third position at Spielberg was just the tonic for the 29 year old to re-establish the level of performance associated with the Yamaha master.
“I always believe in myself and I know many times I had some difficult moments in my career but I always came back even stronger,” he said. “I knew it was a question of time. Sometimes it’s easy to get down when you go to a race and you finish with a bad result, another race the same then another race the same. It’s easy to get frustrated and to believe less in yourself but I knew I could do it. Today we knew that Ducati were in another world and our maximum potential, our maximum position was third and finally we fought with them for the victory.”
Lorenzo was undone by the combination of collisions, climate, tyres and feeling on the M1 that battered his confidence and saw the 99 in the ‘alien’ positions of a DNF-10-15 in recent events. It was a slump that furrowed brows and had the sceptics in voice. “I’ve been in ‘crisis’ five or six times in my career,” Lorenzo dryly observed. “I always came back the same or stronger. It was a question of time. It was a question of work.”
The typical level of focus was evident again around the distinctive curves and sharp bends at Spielberg where the sun shone and the layout provided the fastest average speed on the MotoGP trail. Did the hiatus help for some perspective? “Nothing special,” he said. “I maybe did some more bike [training] but I don’t think this is the thing that changed [anything]. [Instead it was] The circumstances, the conditions and the weather.”
The period of contemplation did force the question of whether Lorenzo could adjust or adapt that famously smooth and precise riding style to eradicate any possibilities of tripping up again. The reply was vintage Jorge. “If you ask Lionel Messi to play as a defender maybe he can improve and play better but this would take so many years,” he mused. “It’s not simple to change your riding. For sure every rider has his own qualities, his own defects. You have to try to play your cards as best as possible.”
Interestingly for Lorenzo the next set of tracks on the calendar suit his tastes: Brno, Misano, Silverstone, Aragon. A fourth victory of 2016 has to be back in view and perhaps even a vehement charge at Marc Marquez and the 43 point gap in the standings; the principal obstacle to a sixth world crown. “Let’s try to be as fast as possible,” he asserted. “We hope to have different tyres in the future to increase the range of performance difficult conditions. But if this doesn’t happen as soon as possible let’s try to change something in my riding. Let’s try to put Leo Messi working as a defender to try and get better.”