Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Rossi needs 'stuff' to happen

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


Rossi needs 'stuff' to happen

Cue the Jaws theme tune, because Jorge Lorenzo is coming to get Valentino Rossi. The Spaniard took a nine-point chunk out of Rossi’s championship lead at Aragon, at which rate he will lead the championship at Phillip Island, with all to play for in the final two races at Sepang and Valencia.

Rossi always knew this moment was coming; indeed he’s been there before. Way back in June 2009 he likened Lorenzo and Casey Stoner to sharks, circling around him in the water, ready for the kill.

“They look at me with some blood flowing and they think, ‘Okay, now is the time’,” he said. “If I am not strong, they will eat me in one bite.”

Six and a bit seasons later he is in exactly the same position. So what will it take to repulse Lorenzo’s latest attack?

Rossi is the master of reinvention and the king of circumstances, so all is not lost. His efforts to find those few tenths a lap he needs are never-ending.

“Now we arrive at the important moment of the championship,” he said at the weekend. “I am always working on my riding style, my position on the bike, the way I use the brakes and everything – all this is in a great state of evolution in MotoGP at the moment. Jorge and Marc [Márquez] always raise the level, so it’s important to stay at that level and to not fall behind, otherwise it’s difficult to recover.”

Following Márquez’s early exit from Sunday’s race, Rossi is now focused entirely on Lorenzo, and he doesn’t like what he sees. “In the last races Jorge has made another step. The change in his riding skills is not a lot; it’s his motivation and his concentration that is different – he has arrived at a level of concentration that is close to 100 per cent, so he’s always strong and fast.

“It’s also the work he does on his settings, so he can stay close to the top in practice and qualifying. Now I need to work on my speed and on my settings to be strong in every practice so I can start from the front, then after that we will see what happens in the races. It’s going to be very hard… We are worried, for sure.”

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

Total votes: 112
Total votes: 69

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Comments

It's interesting how virtually all of the professional commenters--including Rossi himself--say effectively the same thing: Rossi's advantages over Lorenzo are experience, creativity, and race craft; Lorenzo's advantages over Rossi are consistency and ridiculous outright speed. Reality this season would seem to support this. Rossi's wins have all involved some particular challenge that he successfully navigated and/or his opponents failed to navigate, while each of Lorenzo's wins have been fair weather time trial clinics that he has led from start to finish.

Pretty straight forward. And yet, for some this analysis continues to provoke rage. If you find yourself seeing red after reading Mat's blog, I highly suggest reading this excellent two part commentary that David shared on Facebook a few weeks back: http://trunkman.co.uk/blog/doctored-motogps-obsession-with-valentino-rossi/. TL;DR: when it comes to Rossi, our opinions are heavily influenced by our own emotional needs as well as years of media deification.

Total votes: 124

I have trouble with being told Rossi needs it to rain to beat Lorenzo more than anything else. It just isn't what has happened this year. If you want to base the entire season on FP1 and FP2 results sure...

When talking about Rossi vs Lorenzo this year we aren't just talking about their respective wins we're talking every race of the season.

Total votes: 106

Rossi needs rain to win. Thats the current media storyline.

Just like a few months ago Jorge was dead, off his peak, was going to be nowhere in the championship.

If Rossi has another FP/QP like Assen, they will change their story again. David seems to be the bright light out of the media lot, but his business model may not be clicks-at-any-cost.

Total votes: 96

I think a lot of these comments are sort of misconstrued because they're focused on Rossi's perspective rather than Lorenzo's. It's not so much that Rossi "needs" any particular set of circumstances to win--Rossi's won more than anyone in MotoGP history--these comments are really focused on Lorenzo's dynamics.

Lorenzo's like a lock. When all the tumblers click into place, the door to victory is opened and it's very hard to close. Tumbler 1: fast on Friday; tumbler 2: qualify on the front row; tumbler 3: no rain on Sunday; tumbler 4: get the hole shot; tumbler 5: build a gap by the end of lap one. If any of these go wrong--for rain or any other reason--Lorenzo is much more vulnerable. He knows this about himself--hence all the focus on race start and "cold" bike speed we saw during practice last week--and everyone knows this about him.

The controversy--and I think this is related to the perspective in the link I shared--is that no one just talks about Lorenzo, because Lorenzo stories don't draw nearly as many eyeballs as Rossi stories. So all of the commentary about Lorenzo is discussed relative to Rossi which distorts things. It's not really that Rossi "needs" anything in particular to go wrong, it's that Lorenzo has to hope that nothing does.

Total votes: 127

my first post:

If Marquez had done what everyone expected him to do (crash 2 times, not 5 already) Lorenzo would not have been able to win 6 leading every lap.
Then your theory would not hold.
Lorenzo grew, only because Marquez fucked up.
By the way, me thinks Valentino would have beaten Pedorosa, had Marquez not crashed. Obviously some might disagree, but Rossi in attack mode (lap 3 or 4 or 5) is different than Rossi lap 15 thinking too much.
In any case, Lorenzo is fast, so what? He chickens out and blames the dumbest of things.
go Rossi

cheers to all
Man

Total votes: 120

Marquez--or seemingly more accurately, Honda--faltering this season is definitely unacknowledged context for my description of Lorenzo, agreed. But I would say that doesn't really negate my point, it just makes it specific to this season, which has featured an underperforming Marquez. Marquez at full strength would clearly change the whole dynamic.

Total votes: 91

REALLY REALLY informative link both part 1 and part 2 are good reads. Its perfectly explains my reasons for really disliking the 'SEA OF YELLOW', (not the rider but his FANatics).

Ps. Before you 1 star me at least take the time to read both articles to try and understand what I'm referring to

Total votes: 139

For those who wonder why Rossi is so popular, it doesn't take a 3 part article to explain it. Go watch the post race interview he did right after his battle with Dovi in Qatar. He is like a child, so excited to explain how he won the race. His emotions are so genuine that you cant help smile while listening to him recount the last few laps.

I LOVE MotoGP. I'm a fan of the sport before any one rider. I get chills when I witness the absolutely punishing speed of JL, or the fire and sheer aggression of MM. And of course i'm also a fan Rossi's skill, but even more so I'm a fan of his craft and attitude.

To me it comes down to passion. I respect passion. Which is why its surprising to me that people may dislike someone for being a Rossi fanatic. This isn't politics, it's motorcycle racing.

Total votes: 169

Seems a little "look, i dont hate rossi but..." or the ever popular "I am a fan of the sport, not a person... " followed by enormous bodies of text to complain about the entire fan base of him from idiot trollers to media.

Rossi did not single handedly bring motogp out of the 'dark ages' but he certainly coloured it up a dash. Most top riders/drivers are not exactly exciting energetic folk. Especially at a time Motogp was seen as good racing, but the stars were wooden planks and the environment (pit lane etc) was seen as uptight. Where as SBK was seen as terribly more entertaining, with the likes of Foggy, Slight, Crafer et al were seen as interesting folk. The closest the Brits seemed to having somebody to cheer for was the occasional stroke of genius/luck from Niall, and Sean Emmett riding the POS Yamaha engined Harris to last place, or there about - but he did get to crash the suzuki once or twice. Britian seemed to latch onto Rossi because as above, he is was a lad. The sorta lad they could imagine they would go off the pub for a pint and a packet of crisps. Then he moved to London - became one of their own. But oh no, he was a tax fraud and gained more fans out of it, how terrible. How many fans respect riders etc who reside on the Isle of Mann? oh they are doing it for the lifestyle, of course. Anyone, in their right mind, who is earning squillions should do everything in their power to reduce their tax burden.

But what do i know, I just sit in my lounge on the on the other side of the world watching the TV late at night on my own, dont own any yellow, red or blue, have owned hondas and yamahas, and have zero riders from my own country, nor any desire to support australians :v

Total votes: 112

Literally no one in the would could win a MotoGP championship without passion.

All these riders, even the ones at the back of the field, the ones you like and the ones you loathe (yes, even Lorenzo) are deeply passionate about the sport and work their asses off 24x7 to get better. I don't understand why this isn't obvious to everyone. You don't become a top level athlete without passion for the sport.

Total votes: 105

It may be only me, but I have noticed that when broadcasting FPs and Qualifying and even during the Race the focus is more on Marquez and Lorenzo and I believe they are trying to broadcast Rossi's footage less than those two. Even if you visit Dorna's website, there's not photo of Rossi there, and that's interesting!

Whatever the reasons, I don't want to conclude that MotoGP is against Rossi but surely in time many more will get tired of Rossi and his popularity because it may go against the interests of MotoGP and the sport itself.

The management hopes for Marquez to become another Rossi, to some extent, or be able to fill his place in terms of popularity but I don't think he's as charismatic as Rossi.

The article is good from a psychological point of view but it's not important in the end if fans are blind-worshipers or trolls all over the place, they enjoy doing it and with time everything will come to equilibrium.

I don't know how many more years Rossi is going to continue racing but I bet many riders would like him to quit so that they can get more space.

Total votes: 92

"when it comes to Rossi, our opinions are heavily influenced by our own emotional needs as well as years of media deification."

I couldn't disagree more. What a load that sentence is. Not everyone is so influenced by that.

Many of us highly respect Valentino Rossi because of the battle mentality he has on the track. Pass me and I'm going to try and immediately come back with a move on you. If he was a pilot he'd be the Red Baron. He loves the fight, and so do I. 2001 was the most memorable year to me watching him. Starting in 11th, picking people off one by one, to the front, to the top step.

All along the way the whiners said "he's grown up on those tracks" as an excuse. Then it was he has the best bike (Factory HRC). Then it was he has the best crewchief in motorcycle racing. Then it was he has the best tires (all the factory guys got overnight specials from the French). He left the best bike in the paddock, the best racing motorcycle I have ever seen, took a step down, and won. Then he won with Ducati tires, now he is winning with another crewchief. My point is his detractors always had an excuse.

Why he has earned legions of fans is his will to win. That appetite is insatiable. Let's bang fairings if need be but let's fight. I loved this about the late SuperSic as well. And if Dani had ridden like he did on Sunday throughout his career I'd like him just as much as Rossi.

Say what you want about Rossi's hoarde of yellow at every racetrack on the calendar. But they were there when he wasn't winning, still supporting him in defeat at Ducati. And they stuck with him. If that is something you hate you ought to take a long look in the mirror. That's called loyalty and respect, even when expert journalists wrote him off, that sea of yellow knew better. Dismissing them as sycophants is done in error.

And the writer of these 'articles', hard not to laugh with gems like this:
"And that’s difficult to write because Nick Harris and Matt Birt are both lovely guys who’ve forgotten more about MotoGP than most people will ever know. However this year the commentary has been so Rossi focused it’s a true concern. ". Someone needs to tell this writer that #46 has led the championship all season, which is why he is talked about so much. In fact they mention Rossi, Marquez, and Lorenzo more than anyone because that's who has won races this year. Always a dig at Nick. These articles read more as "I'm not a fan" then a bunch of justification via psychology articles and comparisons to other sports. I guess it's OK to have fans, just not too many. His comparisons to Michael Jordan are also laughable. I watched over 90% of MJ's televised games from UNC through Washington and all games from '88 through the end of the Bulls years. He had so many fans because of how good he was. People would turn on the TV and see someone doing something they had never seen before, like going through all 5 defensive players for a score or playing just as hard on the defensive end as he did on the offensive end. Rebounding, stealing, passing, dunking, a 3 pointer, literally everything you could do on a court he would do it. And forget his talent, his skill, his robotic work ethic, it was his raw determination, his will, that earned million of fans. MVP, scoring title, Defensive player of the year, record after record, playoff victories, last shots to win games (much like Rossi's last lap duels), blah, blah, it was the will and determination that you could see, crystal, the fight in him which earned the legions. Jordan too went up against younger guys (like AI burning him when he crossed him up) and beat them. When aging legs and body started to take him he created a beautiful fade away jumper that nobody in the league could stop, which kept him in the fight. He was 35 years old when the Bulls won their second three peat with #23. MJ is probably the best comparison to VR you could find. Mid 30's, with the winning appetite of their rookie season, very rare. And what nobody talks about, not journalists, nobody, is Valentino Rossi, like Michael Jordan, made everyone else competing, better. MJ, and Valentino, were the bullseyes, the standard, over many many years. Every other person competing against them were watching every move, replaying every sequence, studying, stealing anything they could off them, microscope on them both. Still winning with that level of attention watching your every move, studying all your tricks, is something remarkable. The will. I still get a kick out of seeing everyone drop their foot off the bike and use it to help steer the bike on the brakes. I wonder who they were studying to swipe that move from?

My deal is always numbers. VR's name is at the top of the MotoGP/500 win list, of all time, and by a nice margin. To me, the greatest ever. And the scary thing is Marc Marquez may be so good that he could smash every record Valentino has. If he can stay healthy over his career, maintain that will to win, and grow some maturity when second is the best option this entire sport he could dominate like he did the last two years. Unlike Valentino who is at tail end of his career, unlike Lorenzo who is in his prime, Marc isn't even in his prime yet. A scary thought. He is literally hell on wheels and reminds me right now of Rossi in 2000 but Marc already has two titles under his belt.

Total votes: 136

I wasn't criticizing Rossi, nor was the author of the linked articles (he tries to make this clear over and over again). Nor were either of us questioning whether Rossi deserved his fans. I personally think Rossi is amazing and truly hope he beats Lorenzo.

I think the statement that underscores your departure from the topic actually being discussed is: These articles read more as "I'm not a fan" then a bunch of justification via psychology articles... I think you say this because you're convinced his argument is that Rossi is overhyped, but the psychology is his subject. It's the topic he's discussing, it's not an attempt to dress up his disdain for Rossi (which, seriously, I don't think exists).

As far as "Not everyone is so influenced by that"? Er, yeah, we are. Cognitive biases are rock solid science. A truly objective human is as rare as a unicorn.

That said, I hope you find someone that does want to have the argument you're having. You've got some solid points in there.

Total votes: 96

Thank you for sharing the link, and I'm looking forward to trunkman's next installment.

I find myself in contention with the author in his assumption that the current fixation on Rossi is so heavily weighted to the more banal/purile aspects of human group behavior. Rather than focus on the negatives, I did try to craft a thoughtful comment which will hopefully pass moderation in his context that is relevant to his efforts.

Mixing terms like "rock solid science" after words like "cognitive bias" is something that Yogi Berra would say after he's dead. (humor)

Also your choice of words, "Nor were either of us..." hints that you've identified yourself with trunkman and the precepts that he puts forth, in that Rossi fans behave as a blind mob driven by group behavior in a closed social feedback loop that is now tightening in response times and opinion deltas as the digital age accelerates information transfer with more rapidity that was possible when many of the studies that trunkman mentioned were originally authored.

Rossi fandom isn't a problem that needs a solution. At worst, it's a data point that warrants analysis, but for me, it's an era in racing that has strangely wrapped itself around an individual's ability to interact with others so that he can talk to his bike.

It's bike porn, and it's good.

Total votes: 104

Eh, I don't endorse every element of his analysis. The "nor were either of us" statement isn't an indication that I "identified" with trunkman. It was specific to that point--that no one was questioning whether Rossi "deserved" his fans--and it wasn't inference on my part, he says this, repeatedly.

I think he's reaching quite a bit to say that the sport is mortally threatened by the disproportionate interest in and focus on Rossi. Though I don't think any of us will be surprised if there's a (hopefully temporary) dip in attendance and viewership when Rossi retires. It's also, I think, obvious that many involved in MotoGP would be very happy for a rider to come along with Rossi-like talent and charisma.

As far as fan behavior is concerned, I don't think anything in life can be distilled to some single, universal description and I fully believe that there are Rossi fans who contradict the group think mentality and consensus all the time. But if many aspects of human behavior fall along a spectrum with "Objective, rational, independent mind" on one end and "Identity-protecting, unquestioning tribalism" on the other, I don't think it's controversial to conclude that passionate sports fandom pulls us toward the "tribalism" end of the spectrum--some of us to a greater extent than others.

The relevance of the link to me was really just the basic observation that there are clearly some fans for whom any mention of Rossi that is not exclusively committed to his praise and adulation registers as a grave personal offense deserving of their fury. I think the articles get more right than wrong about what drives this behavior. And I also think that all of us can benefit from scrutinizing and testing our beliefs and opinions more frequently.

Total votes: 94

"The relevance of the link to me was really just the basic observation that there are clearly some fans for whom any mention of Rossi that is not exclusively committed to his praise and adulation registers as a grave personal offense deserving of their fury. I think the articles get more right than wrong about what drives this behaviour. And I also think that all of us can benefit from scrutinizing and testing our beliefs and opinions more frequently."

People should try reading that article and substituting every mention with Rossi with a sports team, and MotoGP with the league that team plays, and mentions of other riders with the teams division rival and the article still holds true. Instead of viewing it as article directed at you as a Rossi fan perhaps view it as an observation on human FANatical behaviour towards sports figures/teams.

The only hard part is stepping back into the Rossi debate and admitting that posts like @manino's above post are FANaticle and are quite prevalent when it comes to Rossi (just like they are to any long time winning team).

Total votes: 110

We probably shouldn't be talking about Jordan BUT it's no secret that Jordan made good players GREAT players and Jordan made great teams INCREDIBLE teams. Whats also not a secret and was widely accepted across the league was that Jordan was/is an asshole. Even his hall of fame induction speech is widely agreed upon to be the stuff of legend because its so vindictive, arrogant and petty.

Yes Jordan's is a 'basketball' hero to many, but the current leading NBA plays are not studying him, they have moved on. Apart from Kobe you would be hard pressed to find any NBA players trying to BE like Jordan. Yes they want to win like him and have the fame ect ect, but BE like Jordan....nah.

Total votes: 95

Love what you wrote. I am a rabid yellow fan because of how he wins and loses. Also because of the risks he has taken on track and with his decisions in his professional life. It is inspiring to me and I have been guilty of asking myself WWRD in whatever situation I find myself in regarding my career. It has led me to take risks - some of which have had a Yamaha-esque result (albeit on a much smaller scale!) and a few Ducati stinkers. Another thing I learned after watching him through Ducati and then after a rough start back at Yamaha is that failing is ok. It is how you recover and get back up after failing. I am gob smacked by his ability and will to force himself into reinventing his style to be able to compete at Marquez, Pedrosa and Jorge's level. I have to imagine complacency would be all to easy to fall victim to given his success, but that is not a word I would associate with VR. More than anything I respect his will to win, toughness and perseverance. I hope all who call themselves fans see that about him.

However, when I think about all those young men (and formerly young men) I call my heroes out on track there is a very common trait that endears them to me - Sic, Iannone, Moto2 Redding, Moto2 Pol, Suzuki Hopkins, Hayden, McCoy, Marquez - that you sum up well - let's bash if we have to, but damn it, we're going to have a fight. They race as they live I am sure and are larger than life.

Pedrosa had my respect in a different way - determined to ride broken and battered - and I always felt as though he was 'owed' a championship b/c of all he has been through. That said, I never openly rooted for him because he lacked what I thought was a will to truly 'fight' come race day. I hope we see more of this Pedrosa b/c I want to cheer him on.

Sic - what to say other than a heartbreaking tragedy. We were all robbed of something there.

How did I get into a stream of consciousness this late at night? (Sorry).

Total votes: 96

You seem to be of the mentality that "winning isn't everything....it's the ONLY thing" which I vehemently disagree with. To me it smacks far too much of Sofuoglu headbutting Foret mid-race, of Schumacher running his F1 rivals off the track, Biaggi doing the same to Rossi: winning IS the only thing to these guys. But that is not what defines Rossi.

Sure winning is important, and he has incredible drive, but my feeling is that people respond to a guy clearly enjoying himself. Last weekend was a classic example, where many riders would have thrown their bike in the bushes in frustration, Rossi clearly enjoyed the race despite coming off 2nd (3rd? lol) best to Pedrosa.

Kiplings poem "If-" has more than a few insights for successful men to live by but the following is particularly apt in Rossi's case: "If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same"

That to me epitomises a true champion (not just Rossi) guys who in the heat of battle are tempered into something stronger, not weaker. While that does characterise Jordan, Roger Federer is probably a better fit for where Rossi is at in his career. Federer couldn't give a rat's arse about $$$ and I'm quite sure he'd play in an empty stadium just for the opportunity to measure himself against Djokovic, Rafa or Murray. But he's still magnanimous in defeat and still able to laugh at himself.

So it is with Rossi and a select few others, this is what makes them champions, not just winners and this is why people are drawn to them.

No, I'm not a huge Rossi fan, with most of his early antics grating on me like chewing on tinfoil. He's a loooooong way from a god in my eyes but his new-found post-Ducati humility IS refreshing. And it's impossible not to feel respect for the scarred grizzled ol' warrior, backed into a corner of the ring, making his younger/stronger opponents earn every inch of territory.

Total votes: 98

Thanks for posting the link to the article, Athorn.

I often wonder how this adulation of Rossi affects the other racers. I'm sure they try to block it out as much as possible, but at some level, most riders must understand they're a part--for better or worse--of the Rossi circus. Certainly, riders like Lorenzo and Marquez are there because of their own hard work and talent, but would any of them recieve the amount or exposure and compensation without Rossi?

I'll admit to rooting for Rossi this year--mostly because I'm always in awe of the more "senior" athlete that manages to stay at--or near--the top after so many years. In my mind, this is Rossi's greatest accomplishment. I think Marquez may eclipse Rossi's win totals at some point, but I think it will be a while before someone stays at the pointy end for 20+ years.

Total votes: 132

This is reminiscent of 2008 when Rossi needed to get in front of Stoner to disrupt his ability to have a clear racetrack and speed off into the distance.

Rossi has mostly beat Lorenzo all season except for when Lorenzo leads out the gate. In those 6 races Lorenzo was off like a bat and never saw anyone else's wheel.

Total votes: 107

I guess the fawning over Rossi took so much effort that Mat did not bother to look up that next year everyone gets 22 liters of fuel, not 24.

Chris

Total votes: 115

That confused me as well... I just assumed that my memory was flawed.

Total votes: 98

that the difference between the weight of Rossi and Lorenzo is just 1 kg so not sure how much that will matter with reference to Motegi circuit. Certainly not so much that one rider will have an "advantage" over other!!

Total votes: 80

There is one flaw in Matt's argument, or rather a detail. Rossi doesn't need "stuff" to happen, although that certainly helps. What Rossi really needs is for Lorenzo to not be leading into the first corner. Rossi "in the race" is at least as fast as Lorenzo, barring the first lap. But if Lorenzo can't get his amazing get-away, then he struggles. In races that Lorenzo didn't win, he's only beaten Rossi once this year (at Indy).

I still believe that Lorenzo needs to win outright at least 3 of the 4 remaining races to take the championship and probably needs Rossi to not win a race. Phillip Island is the wild card because it's a track where I think - like Indy - Lorenzo could reasonably finish second. But Rossi is stronger at Phillip Island than Lorenzo. At the remainder, it's "win or 4th / 5th" - Lorenzo's bike isn't set-up to fight at Motegi, Valencia or Sepang.

Giving full credit Lorenzo's ability to finish 3rd when he struggles rather than the more typical 4th or 5th it looks to me like:
Motegi - 50/50 chance of rain (with rain, Lorenzo's championship I think is very, very hard)
Phillip Island - a few points either way, balance favors Rossi
Sepang - a few points either way, balance favors Rossi
Valencia - a few points either way, balance favors Lorenzo

A dry Motegi puts Rossi up by only 5 points (Lorenzo, Marquez, Rossi). I see Rossi pulling a few points back at Phillip Island and Sepang - call it 8 points - so we're back to 13 points.

That takes us to Valencia. Lorenzo needs to win and Rossi needs to finish 5th or worse. IF Motegi and Sepang are dry.

I haven't accounted for Pedrosa - he can be fast at any of these tracks - but I'm assuming the "Pedrosa effect" hits Rossi and Lorenzo equally - maybe an unfair assessment.

All in all, should be thrilling, thrilling finish! Whoever is champion will have earned it, either through craft and consistency or through something new in MotoGP - a racer that gambled on going box-to-wire on every race!

Net - net - 75/25 Rossi. Lorenzo needs a dry Motegi plus "better than usual" results at the other tracks and Rossi "worse than usual". Nevertheless, Lorenzo has elevated the "time trial style" to a high art this year - no doubt about it.

Total votes: 96

Easier said than done, the first lap is exactly where Lorenzo separates himself from the crowd, MM didn't want to let him go last time out and ended up in the kitty litter. Remember the first lap in Netherlands ? From 8th to 3rd in a handful of turns, it's how dominant JLo is at the start, he developed a special talent to be at full speed in a heartbeat. Against a Lorenzo in his prime VR needs to qualify better AND improve his early race-pace. The point is Lorenzo is far from always being in his prime, that's the reason why I also see Rossi as the favorite for the WC.

Total votes: 100

Is that someone other than Lorenze heads into turn 1 in the lead after the start. Lorenzo's lightning fast practice and qualifying laps at the beginning of each session are just practice runs to make he can do that pace right from the off at the start.
If he crashes because of going too fast too soon the practice sessions would be the preferred time for a crash to happen, not race day.
He needs to be out front in order to run the laptimes he is doing and if he's involved in any battling with other riders he will not be able to do so.
The way I see it is that Pedrosa and Marquez will be Rossi's best friends right now to make that happen. If there's a real racing battle between those four than Lorenzo will be in trouble.
His only strategy to win is be out front and stay there.

Total votes: 97