Who Will Be Yamaha’s Master Rider?
When Jorge Lorenzo joined the premier class aboard the factory Yamaha in 2008, he immediately became the pupil of the team’s master rider, Valentino Rossi.
That year, Lorenzo finished fourth overall, earning the Rookie of the Year Award. But Rossi would take the title, living up to his status as the Yamaha’s master rider.
A good pupil, Lorenzo learned much from Rossi during that rookie year. And in 2009, Lorenzo took his newfound education, and put it to work against his teacher. Lorenzo would finish second overall, but was still not able to beat Rossi, who would take his ninth world title.
That 2009 season helped create a huge rivalry between the teammates, which ultimately led to a feud. Except for on the podium, the teammates were barely seen together. And the dialogue between them became sour, especially from Lorenzo, the younger of the two always carrying a bit of cockiness with his words.
This feuding led to more intensity on the racetrack in 2010, though, and now the ultimate quest was very clear for Lorenzo – take the title from Rossi. Lorenzo did just that, taking his first premier-class championship ahead of Rossi, who finished an impressive third overall. Impressive? Rossi broke his leg at Mugello, forcing him to miss four rounds and many valuable points towards a 10th world title. Up until then, Rossi never missed a race.
Then the bombshell hit when Rossi signed a two-year deal with his native manufacturer, Ducati. But from the first few races in 2011, it was clear Rossi was struggling. And these struggles continued to the current day, leaving Lorenzo with a new rival – Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner, who took the 2011 title.
But it was confirmed last week that Rossi would be re-joining Yamaha for the 2013/2014 seasons, the Italian once again partnering with Lorenzo. This will likely rekindle that feud between the two champions. And with this feud will arrive yet another great rivalry, especially since Stoner will be absent from the grid, the Australian retiring at the conclusion of 2012 due to his many complaints, such as the addition of the CRT field.
Animosity between the two re-joined Yamaha riders is expected, especially since Lorenzo has held the reigns as one of the quickest MotoGP riders during the past two years while Rossi was attempting to ride a Ducati fast. Will Rossi be able to beat Lorenzo once back on a more competitive bike? Or will Lorenzo remain the supreme YZR-M1 rider?
Who knows…on the grid, the ultimate winner is without a doubt factory Yamaha. With Lorenzo and Rossi together once again, the team can likely keep the factory YZR-M1 ahead of the Honda and Ducati prototypes.
But there’s also another huge winner – the MotoGP fan. The Rossi/Lorenzo rivalries and feuds will amp up the competitive adrenaline on the track, and the entertainment factory off the bike.
And this week, while Lorenzo was at the Colin Edwards Boot Camp in Texas, we finally got the first official words from the Spaniard regarding Rossi’s signing with Yamaha.
Lorenzo had some good things to say about that “older” rider Rossi, but remembered to add that touch of Lorenzo cockiness that developed back in the Fiat Yamaha days.
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “We are both winning riders and neither wants to lose. I think our relationship has got better, though maybe it’s got better because we were in different teams.
“It’s good news for Yamaha because we achieved a lot of good results together. It’s a big motivation to have him back because I always like to have the best riders in my garage. Valentino is one of them. I assume trying to beat me will be a big motivation for him. For Yamaha, it will be a good thing, that’s the most important thing.”
“Someone who has talent normally keeps it and doesn’t lose it like this in two years. He is still young enough. He is 33; he has won a lot of races. With the Yamaha a better bike this year, it will be easier for him. It’s true that us younger riders are getting stronger, more experienced and more consistent, but we have to remember that Valentino has won a lot of races. We have to respect that and keep it in mind.”
A rekindled feud between Yamaha’s new master rider Lorenzo and his former teacher, Rossi? Sure sounds like it. And then there’s the big question – does Rossi have what it takes to beat Lorenzo following two years of uncertainty with Ducati, and once again be the master Yamaha rider?
We’ll have to wait and see. But I would take the grand prix gamble and say it will definitely be one of these riders who will take the 2013 MotoGP title.