The venue had to be Jerez to induct one of the true stars of the last decade into the MotoGP™ Hall of Fame on Saturday. When we talk about the aliens the names of Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez, and Casey Stoner flow but Jorge Lorenzo was right up there with the very best. On his day Jorge was unbeatable. That smooth, round the outside style a throwback to the days of Hailwood and Agostini. Jorge was something very special and he made it look so easy
It was a style that brought him 68 Grands Prix victories and five world titles. Forty-seven of those came in the MotoGP™ class on his way to three premier class world titles. Three of those came towards the end his career on the Ducati. He won the 250cc World Championship in 2006/07 winning 17 Grands Prix for Aprilia before joining Rossi at Yamaha. He started his first three MotoGP™ races from pole and won in just his third race at Estoril in Portugal.
It was never going to be easy on and off the track being team-mate to ‘God’ Rossi. The first three poles and then the race victory did nothing to cement a relationship. Rossi soon realised that Lorenzo was not only a young teammate but a real threat to his superiority and riding the same Yamaha machinery. The usual fun and games started, including a wall down the middle of the Yamaha garage to separate the two teams. Jorge stood firm and was determined not to be Rossi’s fall guy. He won his first premier class title in 2010. Jorge repeated the victory two years later and won again in 2015 when the eyes of the world were focused on the Marquez/Rossi feud.
So why is Jerez such a special place for Jorge? Not quite a love hate relationship with a lot more love than hate. He arrived at Jerez from Mallorca at the beginning of May 2002 ready to make his Grand Prix debut in the 125cc Spanish Grand Prix but had to wait. He celebrated his 15th birthday on the Saturday by riding in the third practice session after missing the two Friday sessions because he was too young.
His domination of the 2006 and 2007 World 250cc Championships on the Aprilia was never better emphasised than with his two Jerez wins in those years. Jorge won his first MotoGP™ race at Jerez in 2010 on route to his first premier class World title. He won again two years later and then in 2015, the year of his final world title.
It did not always go to plan for him at Jerez and especially with the eyes of the world focused on his victory celebrations after his first MotoGP™ win at the circuit. He had witnessed so many times first-hand the legendary victory celebrations of teammate Rossi and decided he should and could match them. After victory at Estoril in 2009 he dressed as an astronaut and completed a slow-motion moonwalk through the gravel track to plant a Lorenzo Land flag. A year later it all went terribly wrong at Jerez at the second Grand Prix of the season.
After winning a fantastic battle with Dani Pedrosa and Rossi he decided to celebrate by jumping into the trackside lake. Jorge soon realised that wearing a helmet, leathers and boots was not conducive to a bit of breaststroke and had to be unceremoniously hauled out by the marshals – embarrassed, wet but still victorious on the rostrum. Three years later the infamous turn 13, the final corner at Jerez, was named in a special ceremony the Jorge Lorenzo curve. A couple of days later he came out second best at his very own corner after a mighty coming together with Marquez in a fight for second place.
A couple of weeks ago TT legend John McGuinness said that two-time Grand Prix winner this season Enea Bastianini reminded him of Jorge Lorenzo. Some endorsement and praise indeed because Jorge was such a class act.