By Simon Patterson / Photos courtesy 2snap & MotoGP.com / Copyright reserved
Certainly Jorge Lorenzo’s appearance in Sepang in Yamaha’s colors was surprising and curious. Only a few months ago, when dressed in Team Repsol Honda uniform, he confessed having lost lost his desire to ride, the motivation to keep competing. All of us ask ourselves what happened to make Jorge change radically in that short period of time?… Nobody better than him to explain it.
How did the deal with Yamaha happen?
Suddenly when I announced my retirement, Yamaha came to me very interested. It looked like the perfect role because I’m able to do what I love and ride bikes, and I can feel part of a project and the feeling of improving things, which has always been nice. But it’s without the travelling, without the people in the paddock during a Grand Prix, the pressure that comes with it. I thought ‘why not?’ because it gives me the best of my career without the worst. Of course, I’ll miss the feeling you can only get as a racer, to win a MotoGP race, but you can’t have everything in life.
“Suddenly when I announced my retirement, Yamaha came to me very interested.”
I don’t know how I always seem to be in the eye of all the attention, because it happens a lot – when I buy a new car, when I announce my plans! It sometimes creates a lot of expectations, but I’m just doing what I love – and I feel like at Yamaha now I can have the good things without the bad things. The feeling is already very familiar again in the team. It’s not that they treated me badly at Ducati and Honda; it’s quite the opposite because they treated me well and gave me their best. I have friends in both teams. But in Yamaha, there’s a different feeling, and the bike is very familiar-feeling too, especially for my riding style.
You’ve always been a controversial character, but is it fair to say that that’s changed a little in recent months?
I think the main reason that I’ve always had bad comments directed at me is because I’ve been racing against Valentino, especially after the polemic of Malaysia 2015. But time is a great healer; humans forget both negative and positive feelings very quickly, and maybe as time has gone on fans have started to understand me a little better or maybe because I’ve changed as a person. I think maybe some people were touched by my press conference at Valencia last year too, and the response has been popular.
“Now that I’m not depending so much on being an official rider or working with sponsors, I can show more or less whatever I want on social media”
Now that I’m not depending so much on being an official rider or working with sponsors, I can show more or less whatever I want on social media too. I can show the real life that I live. It seems that people appreciate it, even if there are some that are a little against it because my real life is about travelling and enjoying myself. Some people have some envy, but I think they’ll get used to it because that’s how my life is going to be now, at least for the moment. All humans are haters at least a little bit, because envy is a human feeling – and you need to live with it.
Are you excited to be working with Yamaha and especially with Fabio in 2020?
Right now, Yamaha is the only team that has three riders that can win races and fight for the championship. Honda only has Marc for the moment, Suzuki only has Rins because Mir still has to score his first podium. Ducati maybe has three, but Yamaha has more chance to win with their three.
If you know Fabio as a person you know that he never fights with anyone and he’s always smiling. He changes a lot when he’s in race mode and becomes very electric with a lot of energy, but when he takes off his helmet he’s a very cool kid. I don’t think anyone could dislike him – he’s very easy to love. Yamaha has a very exciting team for the future now. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever wanted someone apart from me to win! I couldn’t win last year so I liked it when Marc was able to for the team, but now I really want to see Valentino, Maverick and Fabio winning. Hopefully, Franco can make the last step as well.
How is your relationship with Valentino now?
It’s very difficult to be friendly with a direct competitor, especially when we’re all killers in MotoGP. Marc is a killer, Valentino is a killer, I’m a killer; we all want to win and we never want to give anything to the others. That makes it hard to communicate, to spend time together, or to have empathy for the other. You don’t hate them, but you want them to go as slow as possible and to be able to beat them every time. When something as emotional as Sepang in 2015 happens, the friction causes a fire and the relationship is even worse.
I’ve always said that with Valentino, the further apart we are the better the relationship we have, at least until now! The best relationship we had in the past was when he was at Ducati or when I was at Ducati. But we’re closer than ever now, maybe because our shared interest is to see Yamaha winning.
Do you have a plan to make some wildcard appearances in 2020?
For the moment nothing is confirmed, although people have been speaking a lot about Montmelo. I’ll be there to see the winners of my helmet giveaway, but I don’t know if I’ll be there as a spectator or as a rider. It’ll depend a lot on my feeling with the bike, because if I’m quite competitive and if I have the pace to finish a race then maybe. It’s not the same thing to be fast and to have race pace.
“I don’t know if I’ll be at the Catalan GP as a spectator or as a rider. It’ll depend a lot on my feeling with the bike; if I’m quite competitive then maybe.”
Would success in them tempt you back to racing full time?
For the moment I’m happy with the role that I have because I can enjoy life in a way I haven’t for twenty years. I’ve got a lot of things I want to do, other projects and new things. But in life you never know. After Valencia it was 99% no, and now it’s maybe 98%. If it’s grown 1% in two months maybe it’ll keep growing in the future, but for now it’s a no.