‘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.