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Lorenzo vs. Rossi: Rivalry Escalates

Friday, October 8, 2010
Jorge Lorenzo had the quickest lap in the second free practice session on Saturday at Motegi.
Requirements for great rivalry: 1) Genuine personal dislike between the competitors - CHECK. 2) Competition at the highest caliber - CHECK.
Valentino Rossi: As I said yesterday I expected to suffer more with the shoulder  but I am feeling quite good and when I brake in a straight line here I dont have too much pain. I am so happy about all of this.
Jorge Lorenzo is days away from snatching his first career MotoGP crown. It is an impressive achievement, huge news… The biggest news. Yet the most interesting plotline running into Sepang is something else – Lornenzo’s escalating rivalry with Valentino Rossi. The focus has shifted, once again, back to Rossi, and this is due in no small measure to the actions of Lorenzo himself.

The acrimonious teammates tangled in the final laps of the Japanese Grand Prix. Lorenzo, with some justification, felt the moves were too aggressive for ‘teammates’ where one rider is knocking on the door of the championship. Lorenzo made a huge mistake, however, by venting his frustrations in public after the race. Then he twice blundered by complaining to Yamaha racing bosses about the moves, demanding that Rossi clean it up.

Lorenzo would do well to look at Rossi’s past rivals as he charts through the remainder of the season. Against the charisma and popularity that is Valentino Rossi, there can be no victory. His best means of dealing with The Doctor is on the bike, not off it.

All Rossi’s great rivalries have a singular incident that cements the feud in the fan’s psyche. With Biaggi it was Suzuka 2001. Mad Max ran the then sophomore rider, Rossi, wide off into the straight with an apparent elbow. The Doctor responded on the next lap with a clean pass and the finger. Rossi went on to the title, Biaggi into GP obscurity – eventually blackballed out of the series.

Sete Gibernau became Rossi’s loathed rival in 2004 at the Qatar Grand Prix. Rossi and other teams were forced to start from the back of the grid after doctoring their starting grids for better traction. Rossi reportedly blamed Gibernau for squealing on him and vowed a curse. Gibernau never won another Grand Prix, his closest finish afterward was a second-place the following season in Germany, where Rossi famously ran the Spaniard into the dirt on an aggressive overtaking maneuver on the final lap.

Not the recommended line through the corkscrew  but it worked out for Vale this time around.
Rossi gets around Stoner in the corkscrew at Laguna Seca 2008.
Casey Stoner was the next great rival, with the pair’s defining moment coming at Laguna Seca in 2008. Heading into the USGP as the defending GP champ, Stoner was neck and neck with Rossi for the 2008 crown. During the race the two tussled repeatedly for the lead, including a particularly aggressive pass by Rossi in the gravel down Laguna’s famed corkscrew. Rossi would win the race after Stoner tucked the front end. Stoner, much like Lorenzo later, questioned Rossi’s racing tactics post-race, going so far as to say he’d lost respect for him. Stoner would go on to DNF the next two races and see his title hopes fail, Laguna a highwater mark of sorts for his former domination aboard the Ducati.

Now these past two seasons it has been Lorenzo's turn as Rossi foil. Their tenure as factory Yamaha teammates has always been icy. At the beginning of the season, it was Rossi on the ropes, with Lorenzo seeming to get under the Italian’s skin. Yet Rossi has slowly reversed the momentum since his return from a broken leg. His most recent Motegi podium-grab at the expense of Lorenzo came after a recent interview with the Italian GQ, where the nine-time world champion did not mince words regarding Lorenzo and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa.

The Italian has an uncanny knack at always coming out ahead in any media exchange with a rival. He remains the people’s champion, and Lorenzo’s attempts to emulate can’t change that fact, no matter how he tries. The Mallorcan’s post-race celebrations seem a pale shadow compared to Rossi’s genuine hucksterism, with Lorenzo’s embarrassing moon landing schtick at Laguna Seca the most egregious example.
If you find yourself wearing lunar gear, you'd better be on the moon, extremely drunk, or in a really bad-ass music video.

Lorenzo’s stomping off to Yamaha execs to make Rossi play fair after Motegi was bad form, no matter whether it was justified or not. It smacked of a tattletale and pouter. And what could it accomplish anyway? Yamaha no longer has any real sway over Rossi, who essentially entered lame duck status with Yamaha ever since he broke his leg and with it his legit title hopes. Without a championship to win, Rossi’s only real pleasure can come at beating down his upstart rivals.

How much better would it have been for Lorenzo to shrug off the Motegi last lap jostling with an air of nonchalance. Roll with the punches. Give the media something succinct and vaguely threatening post-race like: “I won’t forget it” or “next time it will not be so easy.” Better yet, embrace the fairing bashing exchange. Engage The Doctor as a worthy foe, not a petulant rookie.

There is only one way Lorenzo can ever hope to emulate the Doctor: Dominate on the track.
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MotoGP Racing Bios
Valentino Rossi
Who is the most popular MotoGP racer in the world? Valentino Rossi. Learn more about Valentino Rossi in Motorcycle USA's Valentino Rossi page for career highlights, pictures, and news.
Jorge Lorenzo
Jorge Lorenzo has been a force in MotoGP since his 2008 debut, becoming one of the most dominant Grand Prix riders in the paddock with his 2010 and 2012 MotoGP championship victories. Find out more about Jorge Lorenzo by checking out Motorcycle USA's Jorge Lorenzo page for career highlights, a complete bio, and racing pictures.
Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez made a huge debut in MotoGP and looks to further solidify his name among the greats. Learn about Marquez in Motorcycle-USA’s Marc Marquez bio page.

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Richard -@ Shaitan  October 11, 2010 11:55 AM
Just wanted to respond, respectfully, to your comment "Beat Rossi on the track if you want to injure his ego". I disagree; back when Rossi's rival was with Biaggi, a statement was made that I think is correct "Biaggi races to win, Rossi races to race"; did you see how elated Rossi was to get 3rd place? He was not elated because of his place, but because of the competitive last 2-3 laps with Lorenzo (and maybe just sticking it to Lorenzo). I know he races to win, but I think that the actual enjoyment of the 'race' is his higher calling.
Richard -Excellent comments and Moto-journalism!!!  October 11, 2010 11:51 AM
After reading this piece I am a MotorcycleUSA fan for life; so well written and hope both Vale and Lorenzo read it; I especially like the paragraph "Lorenzo would do well to look at Rossi’s past rivals as he charts through the remainder of the season. Against the charisma and popularity that is Valentino Rossi, there can be no victory. His best means of dealing with The Doctor is on the bike, not off it."
AAllen -2010 Champion*  October 11, 2010 10:30 AM
Jorge Lorenzo - 2010 MotoGP Champion* * = Won against incomplete field
Nick -Sheeps that hunt sissy lions  October 11, 2010 01:28 AM
Don't get too excited.. It's a long life ahead of Horge Lorenzo.. Let see if he can size-up and beat Rossi in coming years, then we'll see what he's made of, till then you can just whine about Rossi tactics and blah blah.. Yeah he's cheat and bully.. But can you do anything about it.. I thought so.... and who really cares what Elias did years back in one race.. He's getting wasted in Moto2!
Jimmy James -Sheep  October 10, 2010 09:45 PM
All the Rossi supporters who point out how popular he is are a bunch of sheep playing follow the leader. So what if hes the most popular, I like the whingers and bad guys because if everyone was a Rossi clone then that would be boring. Now there was one rider who got under Rossi's skin. Remember Elias, used to go into every corner sideways, running Rossi off the track. "He's dangereous" whined Mr Rossi. But Elias would just appologise and promise not to do it again, saying Rossi was the ultimate champion blah blah blah then next time, sideways again, pushing Rossi off track again. It was great. Rossi hated it just like everyone hates it when Rossi rides so called 'dirty'. Whingers Stoner and Lorenzo need to learn from Elias, be nice to his face, run him off the track in the race.
Marcus -Whining all the way to glory  October 10, 2010 09:18 PM
The whining of Lorenzo and his sissy fans continue on every forum.. Kpaul is just filling the space here.. Relax guys.. he probably a bit upset that Lorenzo had to take the title from 3rd step.. Rossi naysayers just can't get around the fact that NO ONE has yet beaten Rossi convincingly when he's fit & in form... It's been a decade of dominance & no one can tell for sure if he'll be beaten for the next 2 years, he's in MotoGP till 2012 for sure.
Jim -Lorenzo is this years champion - Rossi is king of that empire!  October 10, 2010 10:31 AM
@Kpaul... Jorge is surely smart that he didn't get involved in another tussle today or he would have eaten dust! He's smart coz last week he showed so in Motegi getting into a very smart fight and then crying to papa like a child whose lollipop the BULLY had snatched.. Oh and the week before when Hayden beat him square. It was a plain sailing for the lollipop kid this year with Rossi injured then Pedrobot breaking his shoulder at the wrong time.. soon you'll get educated Kpaul on how smart your kid really is!! Have a good time till it lasts..
Sachin -kpaul  October 10, 2010 09:31 AM
I expected a desperate reply from your end, which you did. Thanks!
kpaul -Sachin now Lorenzo can take the gloves off Championship secured.  October 10, 2010 03:53 AM
Hope Lorenzo takes on the bully Rossi on without fear now that he has won the MotoGP Championship. Jorge is smart and the doctor is going down. :)
Sachin -@kpaul  October 10, 2010 02:36 AM
Hey paul, done watching the race? Oh and by the way, did you notice massive Rossi support in there?? He simply overshadowed "your-gay's" championship win!! ...funny to see that most of the motorcycle racing fans in the world love the cheater and bully Rossi more than anyone else....awe...pitty!!
kpaul -@Sachin Yep watching the race now Rossi is putting on a clinic  October 10, 2010 01:28 AM
He still is a cheater and bully :D
Sachin -@kpaul  October 10, 2010 12:22 AM
Rossi takes his leg out on almost when he brakes hard with or without any other rider near him!! This is his way of braking better, you can't dream of telling him how to brake! And blocking, kpaul, he's 9 times title holder, the GOAT and an original. Lorenzo's post race celebrations are nothing but cheap imitations of Rossi's awesome original stuff that he pulls out. Girlie Rossi groupies?? who the hell are you..straight out of smackdown?? Guess what Lorenzo's crying like sissy girl that Rossi took his lollipop in Motegi!! Lorenzo has been strong this year, and you must thank Rossi's crash for the upcoming world title for, as Rossi puts it, "your-gay Lorenzo"!!
kpaul -News Flash to Rossi Groupies: LORENZO on POLL.... Rossi way behind  October 10, 2010 12:11 AM
Sepang MotoGP Qualifying results 1 Jorge LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha Team Yamaha 2 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati 3 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Repsol Honda Team Honda 4 Ben SPIES USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 5 Casey STONER AUS Ducati Team Ducati 6 Valentino ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha Team Yamaha 7 Colin EDWARDS USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 8 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Suzuki 9 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Suzuki 10 Marco MELANDRI ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 11 Marco SIMONCELLI ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 12 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 13 Randy DE PUNIET FRA LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 14 Hiroshi AOYAMA JPN Interwetten Honda MotoGP Honda 15 Hector BARBERA SPA Paginas Amarillas Aspar Ducati 16 Mika KALLIO FIN Pramac Racing Team Ducati
RBEN -That is next year in the when Stoner moves to the Honda motorGP camp.  October 9, 2010 08:09 PM
It will be Stoner,and Pedrosa.The WHINY MotoGP team.LOL.
RBEN -I thank Ron has something.  October 9, 2010 07:37 PM
(whiny, crybaby attitudes of Lorenzo, Stoner, and Pedrosa) Maybe Hondas MotoGP team can be called the WHINY GP TEEM. HE HE HE.....
Rufi000000 -Laid back.  October 9, 2010 02:26 PM
My favorite thing about Rossi is how happy and laid back he seems in all but the worst circumstances. Sports need more people like him, people that realize that job they have is amazing and are visibly happy about it. His charisma makes it impossible for me to support riders like Stoner and Lorenzo, who are annoyingly serious and whine about everything that doesn't go their way. I can't wait to see what Rossi does on the Ducati next year. The desmo plus Rossi's ability to develop an easy-to-ride bike should help Hayden out a lot and be pretty awesome. I doubt Lorenzo will do as well without Rossi and Burgess there making the bikes so rideable. He probably doesn't realize what he's losing or appreciate the fact that he benefits from Rossi's development skills.
kevin -Step up or shut up  October 9, 2010 01:00 PM
That is what Lorenzo needs to do. He cried about Hayden passing him on a last lap and know he's crying about Rossi doing it. Lorenzo is a great racer and I think the most likely future of MotoGP. BUT, he is not a better RACER than Rossi yet (if he ever will be for that matter). Lorenzo needs to learn how to block and not leave any room open for a rider to sneak a wheel in on him. He is giving Rossi space on the inside...and guess what...Rossi takes it! That's just dirty, that's just cheating. No, I have that wrong, that is just hard core motorcycle racing. What would Ronnie Johns say? "Quit havin' a cry about it and harden the f@&k up!"

will parker -Rossi's moves..  October 9, 2010 01:00 PM
...i like rossi but you just named most of the questionable passes in his career-the guy has a history...aggressive riding is onething ,but he crosses the line sometimes when he gets upset..i think the fate of Rossi's sivels has more Rossi anyway...Lorenzo's not really worried, he wiped the floor with the Doctor this season..
Some Guy 79 -Rossi is still great, but not what he once was  October 9, 2010 10:55 AM
While Valentino can still race agressively for podiums and probably wins, he's not so dominant as he was a few years ago. I think the injuries are taking their toll. It seems the leg is getting better, but the shoulder is still a problem. Not to mention the other injuries accumulated in his career. I expect next year he will be a top five rider, maybe even a top three rider, but you can't assume he will be dominant anymore. I think next year Spies, Lorenzo, Stoner, and Rossi are going to make some interesting rivalry and no one will be the obvious choice to win round after round.
Ron -The Doctor  October 9, 2010 08:28 AM
Say what you want about Val, you can't deny his abilities on a racebike. Coupled with the fact that he is a laid back funny guy, the sport needs more people like him and less of the whiny, crybaby attitudes of Lorenzo, Stoner, and Pedrosa.
Shaitan -Rossi is a monster  October 9, 2010 07:25 AM
Rossi is a monster and in the good way. He takes no prisoners with racing skill unrivaled, and he's damned smart and charming with the press. All those who oppose him get eaten. Lorenzo's a great racer...he just needs to grow up a bit and realize he's playing with the big boys. Beat Rossi on the track if you want to injure his ego.
JeffD -AMA DSB  October 9, 2010 07:04 AM
@dick - dr You want the best motorcycle road racing series on TV, then you should have caught this season's AMA Daytona Sportbike championship. The best racing I've seen since 500cc GP in teh 80's and 90's.
dick -dr  October 9, 2010 03:04 AM
would like to see less of rossi winning. i mean, come on, it's getting boring to see him on the podium, is there no one aggressive enough to take him on? i want to watch a race where the event is exciting and the results, unpredictable. don't want a race with an outcome that everybody expects, where's the drama in that?
kpaul -Buy a DVR guys watch the race again Jorge has a legitimate complaint. Rossi is blocking  October 9, 2010 12:01 AM
I still have the race on my DVR and watched it for the 3rd time. That leg thing Rossi was doing is blocking i.e. cheating. In F1 blocking is penalized. But just like the NBA let Michael Jordan travel foul etc MotoGP will do the same thing cause Rossi is popular with the girlie man Rossi groupies. Wonder if my favorite rider of all time Matt Mladin would take Rossi's leg off. Think he would warn him first but the second time then Matt would do it. Cause Matt wouldn't let anyone intimate him. I think Mick Doohan would probably do the same. I guess we need another Aussie to be a man and kick the bully's arse.
JeffD -Great article!  October 8, 2010 10:19 PM
I agree 100% with Bart, the author - great writing and insight! Rossi owns, haters just keep on hating. He's the GOAT, and there can be only 1.
frank t. -rossi a bully?  October 8, 2010 10:09 PM
kpaul, Rossi a bully? like Mick Doohan said to Criville, I think your idea of racing needs to be fine tuned a bit! this is motorcycle racing, not golf! I have been following this sport since the early 80's, the most memorable races, and the only ones that count, are races like the one at Motegi. Hockenheim between Rainey and Schwants, Lawson and Gardner at Assen in 88. great battles make this sport. not some guy out there by himself at the front, that stuff is boring! I thought everyone including Lorenzo would have learned there lesson after Laguna in 08' fairing bashing, mind blowing passes and heroics is what this sport is all about, and the greatest exponent, and the main reason this sport is now a world wide phenomena is you know who!
Brandon -New blood?  October 8, 2010 09:45 PM
You may think it's time for new blood to be brought in, but if last week's race at Motegi shows us anything, it's that Rossi will go down fighting before he goes down at all. Even if you aren't a "Rossi fanboy" you have to admire the spirit of competition in a guy who has won so much but won't stop fighting.
kpaul -Rossi is a bully  October 8, 2010 09:14 PM
Eventually a bully like Rossi will meet his match. Think Jorge could be the guy. Rossi was blocking with his leg. Jorge just might just hit his leg next time. You guys are like Rossi groupies. Time for new blood in the sport. Stoner, Jorge, and Spies will be the new kings of the sport.
KM -Moto GP  October 8, 2010 07:46 PM
I said last year when Ben Spies was racing World Super Bike he was the best there was out there period. The stupid rules in MotoGP made him ride at least one year for a satellite team that we all new was down on power and had no real chance of winning races. So now we go to 2011 and it's a dream come true; Rossie hates Lorenzo so they will battle all next year; and while they are assing with each other Ben Spies will blow by both of there asses. Bring the respect back to the USA.....
irksome -please...  October 8, 2010 07:26 PM
Compare and contrast the two premiere classes in motorsports; MotoGP and Formula One. F1 has degenerated back to team orders with little to no actual passing at speed and a succession of whining for any and all outright attempts to actually race. I'm sick of watching races being decided by pit strategy. As soon as MotoGP'ers stop leaning on eaxch other and racing for position, I'll start searching for lawn mower races. God forbid, even NASCAR...
GhostRider -People's Champ  October 8, 2010 06:01 PM
Rossi- the greatest of all time, makes MotoGP interesting to watch on the tube since 1999... you gotta like the guy! A Good read Bart... to beat Rossi on/off the track... a MotoGP rider must be a better Rossi in dog-fighting, comments to the press, and twisting the other rider's head to mush! When Rossi decides to tear down an opponent, he does so by getting in their heads, getting them emotional to make mistakes, and takes the fight to them on the track. So far... all have succumb to Rossi's tactics as Bart described wonderfully! Nicky won his title by being consistent and Rossi having his own troubles! Ben Spies may be the only rider to better Rossi at his own game! Yamaha knows this... and that's another reason why they wanted Cal now instead of later! They want/need young lions (Ben/Cal) to get at Rossi! Jorge? Enjoy your time in the sunshine before you become another Sete!
Cam C -Winners not whiners!!  October 8, 2010 04:29 PM
At the start of this season my non-existant respect for Lorenzo began to grow. I thought maybe, just maybe he had started to mature as a rider. But oh how wrong I was! Pretty much as soon as they dubbed him the 'virtual champion' he went strait back to his punk-ass ways! He will never be Rossi, or even a Rossi caliber sportsman. I will never knock his riding ability, becuase its unquestionable. But it takes more than just riding ability to be a true "Champion". Something that Rossi has taught us all, well all except Lorenzo that is!! Cause the boy just doesn't get it!
Racer1 -Bart..  October 8, 2010 02:27 PM
Where do you come up with the line "with some justification" regarding Lorenzo's complaints of the final laps at Motegi? When you say that the rest of article reads a totally different way. The point is that there was ZERO justification - THAT'S what made the story. They were both racing hard and aggressively (this is premier class racing), nothing too untoward and nothing we don't see in ANY Moto2 race. Did you read Wayne Rainey's take on the race? Did you consider that Lorenzo was the one with everything to lose, yet decided to battle for the place - was Rossi expected to let him pass? This was good, tight racing where contact is expected occasionally and no-one should have cried foul _ THAT'S THE POINT. Your three little words changed the debate - and in a way that I have not seen any other commentator do.
PD -...  October 8, 2010 02:27 PM
Spot on! Great piece. "Genuine hucksterism." Great term. Perfectly fitting.
kk -win  October 8, 2010 01:16 PM
I think lorenzos post-win antics are stupid. give me a standing power wheelie across the line and call it a day.
lou -The Doctor  October 8, 2010 12:25 PM
Come on, we all know who the peoples champion is!!!!!Race dont wine!!!No one will ever repeat what Vail has done in modern moto G P ever!!
RBen -No matter what Lorenzo dose he will never ever be Rossi.  October 8, 2010 12:24 PM
Lorenzo’s stomping off to Yamaha execs to make Rossi play fair after Motegi ,hehehe..pour little Lorenzo..