When it was announced last year that Jorge Lorenzo had signed to ride for Fiat Yamaha, lovers of gossip and scandal around the planet rubbed their hands in glee at having two of the largest egos on the planet sharing the confines of a single pit garage. The widespread expectation was that we would see more fireworks between the two Yamaha heroes than during a Chinese New Year celebration.
So many people have been surprised by the air of if not quite harmony, then perhaps quiet acceptance of each other that has permeated the factory Yamaha team. Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo have rubbed along fairly quietly, without rubbing each other up the wrong way, much to the disappointment of the more sensationalist Italian press.
Fortunately for the Spanish press, however, Lorenzo has been reunited with a different rival, and one with whom that rivalry runs deeper and more darkly than any new-found dislike. For now, Lorenzo is pitted against his old enemy Dani Pedrosa, in a clash which goes back to 2005, and Lorenzo's first season in 250s.
The rivalry runs deep, in part because Jorge Lorenzo styled his on-track and media persona to a large degree around Pedrosa. Seeing the central role Pedrosa was starting to play in the eyes of the Spanish media, Lorenzo set himself up to be the anti-Pedrosa, and be everything Pedrosa is not. Where Pedrosa is quiet, focused and restrained, Lorenzo would be loud, brash and over the top. Fortunately for Lorenzo, he also had the talent to back it up.
In keeping with his character, Pedrosa rarely wastes words on Lorenzo, or any of his rivals for the title. But in an interview with the Spanish press agency EFE, Pedrosa broke his self-enforced silence. "We both want the same objective," he said, "and there can be only one winner."
Pedrosa was less forthcoming on his expectations for next season. It was "too early" to start thinking about who his main rivals were likely to be. "There are new riders on the grid, and others who have changed bikes," Pedrosa told EFE. "So there's still a long way to go, and a lot of preseason testing left." His own objective is clear: "To be more consistent." It was just such consistency that gave Pedrosa the championship lead prior to his disastrous crash at the Sachsenring, and a lack of consistency that saw him slump to 3rd in the title race by the end of the year. If Pedrosa can repeat his early-season form, he will be a factor in 2009.