Rossi vs Lorenzo: MotoGP’s Best Rivalry
Written by Owen Bradley, Edited by Alexandra Campos
Rossi arrived at the MotoGP Circus in 1996, and after two world championships in the 125cc Class, and 250cc class, Rossi would begin racing in the Premier 500cc class; now known as MotoGP.
Rossi had a lot of success, winning seven World Championships in the top class, beating other rivals such as Sete Gibernau, Max Biaggi (the Roman Emperor), and Casey Stoner.
However, in 2008, something changed Rossi’s MotoGP career forever… The next generation had arrived, and Rossi was no longer the young exciting prospect at Yamaha. Newcomer Jorge Lorenzo was.
Jorge Lorenzo arrived at MotoGP alongside Valentino Rossi in 2008, and the pair would largely enjoy a friendly rivalry, similar to that now, of Vettel and Hamilton.
But in 2009, everything changed. According to Rossi, Yamaha had begun putting more energy into Lorenzo, and largely saw him as the future of the team, which Rossi strongly disliked, as he had literally just won the 2008 World Championship. And would actually go on to win the 2009 Championship as well, after a long and hard-fought season with his teammate Jorge Lorenzo, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, and Ducati’s Casey Stoner.
The most pivotal moment in their rivalry can be put down to one race in particular, which really frustrated Lorenzo. Catalunya, Spain 2009. Rossi and Lorenzo would fight almost all race for first and second, with neither wanting to back down. Coming into the final sector of the final lap, Lorenzo looked destined to win in front of his adoring home crowd.
But Rossi had other ideas.
Rossi made a final lap, final corner move to win the Spanish GP 2009, which sent his half of the garage into absolute delight, going down as one of Vale’s greatest races, but on Lorenzo’s side, there were conversations that needed to be had with Yamaha Team Principal Lin Jarvis.
After this, Rossi and Lorenzo’s relationship was really soured, and Yamaha would need to step in to calm the two down, and for the remainder of the 2009 season the pair were incredibly tense, both on and off track.
Rossi would accuse Lorenzo of copying his setup, which Lorenzo denied. The pair would even have a wall built between their garages, as they were bitter rivals willing to do everything to win the championship.
However, after Rossi sustained his first and luckily, only major injury (breaking his leg at Mugello 2010) this cleared Lorenzo’s way, and he took his first MotoGP World Championship, with Rossi missing multiple races.
Rossi felt as though Yamaha had found what they were looking for, and so for 2011 and 2012, Rossi would replace Casey Stoner at Ducati, forming an all-Italian team, Italian bike and an Italian rider. Ducati is essentially what Ferrari in Formula 1 is for MotoGP, for those who don’t know.
However, after two painful seasons endured with Ducati, Rossi made a surprise announcement that he was returning to Yamaha alongside Lorenzo in 2013.
Lorenzo at this point had won the championship in 2012, so Rossi felt like time away from the front might have actually done him some good, and was ready to get back to his winning ways.
Rossi’s second half to his MotoGP career was not nearly as successful, however a particular highlight was when he took the MotoGP championship down to the finale at Valencia 2015, against Jorge Lorenzo.
However… this World Championship had been tainted by an exterior force, Marc Marquez.
2015 Sepang, Malaysia would throw up a lot of controversy, when Marquez appeared to purposefully slow down and battle Rossi, so that he was unable to catch up to Marquez’s fellow countryman, Jorge Lorenzo.
Rossi got incredibly frustrated, and even appeared to kick Marquez off his bike in the penultimate corner.
Rossi would get a grid penalty, starting from the very back, with Lorenzo right at the front.
Rossi climbed his way in the race to take 4th position, one of his greatest comebacks in all of his career, but sadly it was never quite enough for Rossi to get his 10th World Championship.
And so, with Rossi starting a new rivalry with Marc Marquez, that brought an end to the one with Jorge Lorenzo.
Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo are now good friends in 2022, but Rossi says he can never forgive Marquez for the 2015 Championship.
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