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.
Lorenzo's battle back from injury - against his subconscious
What’s wrong with Jorge Lorenzo? Has he lost it or is he merely waiting till his back is fully fixed? And why HRC’s plans for its 2020 RC213V should give cause for optimism
The MotoGP paddock and fans around the world are agog with talk of Jorge Lorenzo. What’s up with the three-times MotoGP world champion? Has he lost it? Why doesn’t he retire? Why hasn’t he been sacked? Why don’t they put Johann Zarco on his bikes?
It must be said that the three-times MotoGP king is in a hole. A very deep hole. At Phillip Island two weeks ago he finished more than a minute (one minute!) behind winning team-mate Marc Márquez.
Last Sunday at Sepang, the 32-year-old Spaniard finished 34 seconds down. After the race he outlined his target for next week’s season-ending Valencia GP: “we are getting closer and closer to the goal of being 30 seconds from the winner”.
Something is obviously very amiss. But what is it? It’s been obvious since the start of the season that Lorenzo doesn’t get on with Honda’s 2019 RC213V. However, his body is also in a mess. The last time he was fully fit was when he was sat on the grid at Aragon in September 2018, before he fell at the first corner
Two weeks later a huge crash at Buriram caused serious ligament damage to his left wrist, which demanded surgery. The after-effects of that operation caused his left scaphoid to snap during winter training, which hampered him at every race, until he broke his back at June’s Dutch TT.
His disastrous results since his return from injury aren’t simply because he doesn’t feel confident on his bike. They are due to the fact that – and there’s no nice way to put this – he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. His Assen crash was uncomfortably similar to the fall that paralysed Wayne Rainey from the chest down in 1993.
Lorenzo’s two fractured vertebrae – which began to crack when he crashed heavily during post-Catalan GP testing at Barcelona – still hurt. His surgeon says the breaks are healed, but if he still feels pain, how can he convince himself that if he has another big accident he won’t break his spine? That right there is his biggest problem, because a broken back is very different to a broken arm or leg.
The best way to illustrate Lorenzo’s situation is to compare his results from before and after Assen.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.