Rossi and Lorenzo grow to accept each other

1 of 1

Valentino Rossi’s title challenge will be put to the test this weekend at his home Grand Prix. Rossi was the past master of Mugello with an unbeaten run of eight years but recently Jorge Lorenzo has been making the Italian circuit part of Lorenzo Land.

Although the Spaniard was beaten here 12 months ago it took an inspired performance by Marc Marquez for the champion to take the win. Given the difficulties that Lorenzo had in the opening two thirds of 2014 his performance last year should send a few warning shots across the bows of his title rivals this year.

Lorenzo comes to Tuscany on the crest of a wave having dominated the last two races and closed the title gap to Rossi to just 15 points. Lorenzo will know that this weekend will be a key opportunity for him to land a crucial mental blow to Rossi. The nine times champion has done a fantastic job of deflecting pressure this year, and putting as much as possible on Marquez, but at his home round there’ll be nowhere to hide; he has to win.

The crowd will be huge this weekend with the always partisan masses swelled by Rossi’s resurgence. The internal battle within Yamaha has been intriguing this year and both riders commented on how their relationship has developed over the course of the last eight years since Lorenzo came into the premier class.

“We were team-mate with Jorge from 2008 but I think our best battle was in 2009 where we were close all season and we also did very good fights in some races,” said Rossi. “After, the challenge continued in 2010 but unfortunately I had the injury [broken leg] and then I go to Ducati so our story split. Now we are back. I think it’s always difficult when you fight already [as team-mates] for just one victory – and for the championship more. But the atmosphere in the team is good. Especially because it is always very clear.

“We have a good relationship, good respect – outside and on track. But like everybody knows your team-mate is your first rival, no? Because have the same bike. So is the first enemy. The first guy to try to beat. But anyway I think this year is also more interesting because already in five races we have three different riders able to win. It looks like the bikes are very balanced. Depends on one track to another. So maybe not just me and Jorge, but also Ducati and Honda.”

For Lorenzo the change has come as he has matured and grown in stature in the class. No longer feeling the need to prove himself he is much more comfortable in his skin than compared to his rookie campaign in 2008.

“As Vale said 2009 was the year of the fight,” commented Lorenzo. “Maybe I was a little bit inexperienced to be constant and don’t crash. I make so many mistakes. So I had the speed, also he had the speed, so we were very equal but I made a little bit more mistakes than him. So finally Vale was more complete. As he said in 2010 probably he had his back injury so he was not 100% in the first four races and then he crashed in Mugello. So it was not a real fight.

“Our relationship is probably better now because I think the positions on the team are more accepted at this point and I think we are making a great job. Relationship good, correct, we have respect, we help the factory to bring a better bike every time and we are winning at this moment four of five races. So it is a good period for us and we have to take profit of it.”

Steve English

By Steve English