MotoGP, From dream team to nightmare: Rossi's and Lorenzo's contrasting fates

They won everything together in Yamaha. Now they're both in trouble. A downward spiral is the common denominator between the two champions, who may still have the strength to rise again.


Destiny might have a particular sense of humor or, at least, it's ironic. Especially in the MotoGP, where the stories of two riders cross at a distance, after having been together for years under the same roof. Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo were the last and true dream team of the premier class. In their 7 years as teammates, they won 4 titles in the MotoGP, equally divided. Everything happened during those seasons: rivalry, fights on and off the track, successes, quarrels, divorces, walls.

It was also Jorge's "fault" that the Doctor left Yamaha for Ducati. Jorge, who did the same, and for similar reasons, a few years later. This is only the first similarity between the two riders, who couldn't be more different from each other, starting from their characters, but now it's easy to find many points in common.

Unfortunately for them, the saying, "misery loves company" holds true now. Both Valentino and Jorge have recently hit the headlines because of their disappointing results. The matter is much more difficult for the rider from Mallorca who doesn't seem to be able to find his way around a Honda made for Marquez. The result is to see the Spanish rider in positions that he didn't even think existed, finding himself in that Bronx of the standings that sings out of tune for a high-ranking rider like himself.

Things, however, with the necessary distinctions, are not even going well for Valentino who, in the last few races, is stacking up big gaps between him and his teammates. The problem for the Doctor is also technique. He keeps failing to get his head around a bike that he knows like the back of his hand and as seen develop. In short, the mitigating circumstance of a new and unknown vehicle does not apply to Rossi as it does to Lorenzo.

When things go wrong for two champions, rumors and speculation (more or less well-founded) are part of the agenda, and the two riders ended up at the center of motorcycle gossip during the summer. The word that accompanied both was "retirement". Both Rossi and Lorenzo have their signatures on a contract for 2020, and both sent all the allegations back to sender. Even if Jorge, to be honest, has already sought a loophole by re-establishing relations with Ducati, even if it he ended up empty handed.

There is another similarity in the predicament they're both in: a "snake in the grass". Valentino's is Quartararo, Jorge's is Marquez. Certainly the Spanish rider knew very well what he could expect when he said "yes" to Honda, but he might not have imagined how difficult it would be to confront Marc. Lorenzo is literally in enemy territory, and there are not many allies on his side. The only way to gain importance within the team would be to beat his teammate, which is almost impossible at the moment.

Fabio, on the other hand, caught the Doctor off guard. He probably expected to have to watch out for Vinales. Instead, Petronas' French rider shifted the balance, in a much more marked way than Zarco did. We should add that Quartarato is young enough to be his son and rides a satellite bike, so it's clear how the thorn in his side can be very painful.

So far, the points that Rossi and Lorenzo have in common are only negative but, in the midst of all this darkness, a burning flame remains. Since we must not forget that we're talking about, as Jorge liked to put it, two champions and not simply two great riders.  We're talking about two tough guys who have already fallen in their careers, but have gotten up again.

Valentino has already made his move. In fact, upon closer inspection, he's made two. The most striking one was splitting up with Silvano Galbusera, bringing David Munoz into the team. His critics will be able to argue that it was a desperate move, but one cannot deny that this shows the Doctor's desire to get back into the game at an age when (sportingly speaking) he'd do right thinking of Caribbean beaches. The least obvious, but not least important, was to focus on 2020 in these last few races, which meant racing with a tester's head, installing every possible innovation onto his M1.

Sorry to say, but it's more difficult to see a reaction from Lorenzo for now. After all, the HRC more than once said the reference for development is Marquez and that the rider from Mallorca has to make the best of a bad situation. What's strange is seeing a fighter like Jorge surrender. For him, the turning point must especially come from inside and, if good results arrive, that would be even better.

Lorenzo and Rossi experienced one of the best moments of their careers together and, today, they're going through one of the worst at a distance. It would be nice to see them both fighting against each other for the podium. The next few months will tell us if this will be possible.


Translated by Leila Myftija

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