With the MotoGP title already assigned, the atmosphere in Valencia is so different from last year when Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo had to fight for the crown and Marc Marquez was the third factor in the championship chase.
The feeling is akin to the last day of school. It’s time to say goodbye to the 2016 season and for some riders it is harder than others.
“It’s a strange feeling. One year ago I would have never thought that this would be my last race with Yamaha,” said Lorenzo who is living one of the most complicated race weekend of the season. This time is not about an injury or an issue with the bike. It’s something more personal. The Spaniard today started his last free practices in Yamaha colours, the manufacturer with which he made his debut in the premiere class back in 2008, after having conquered two world titles in the 250GP.
“It’s a combination of feelings,” states Lorenzo. “I am very motivated to do a good race at Valencia and fight for the win, or the podium, if it is not possible. It’s a special race and I would like to celebrate this moment with a victory. It’s a track were I have good records and I know that we can do well. The target is also to finish third in the championship which will mean that I will finish in the world standing among the first top three as I have done in the last eight years. If I succeed, it is a great result because it shows my consistency.
“On one side, I’m sad because it’s difficult to say goodbye to a group of people we have spent nine years together. We have gone through so many adventures, very good times but also difficult moments,” adds Lorenzo, getting more emotional. “The ambience has always been great and I’m leaving a competitive bike.” Fortunately throughout these seasons he has many good memories.
“Yes, it’s difficult to choose. My best memories with Yamaha? The first races in the premiere class, my first win, my first world tile. The best race? I remember Assen very well because I came back on track exactly 30 hours after surgery and I finished fifth.. None had done it before. Now I wouldn’t do it either. I’m not so crazy as I was three years ago. It is also true that when you are in the position to fight for the championship, you end up doing what you can.”
On Tuesday he will jump on a Ducati to try and fight for the championship for the Italian manufacturer alongside Andrea Dovizioso. What does he expect from this new adventure?
“I’m the kind of person who thinks in the present. So now I’m completely focused on the Valencia race, then from Sunday at 3pm, I will reset and I will start thinking of 2017. If on one side I’m sad to leave my people (only Juan “Juanito” llansa will follow him on the new adventure), on the other side I’m excited.”
The two days of testing at Valencia will be the only opportunity this year for the Spaniard to ride the Ducati because Yamaha didn’t give him the authorization to speak and to test at other times.
“Did I expect a different treatment after so many years? Honestly I was more worried to get the same treatment and the same material as my team-mate and I cannot complain as also in the past, we have always been treated equally. I would have loved to test more than just two days in Valencia. But I can understand Yamaha’s point of view. I have a contract signed with till the end of the year. This is how contract works. Lin Jarvis told me once that this also business and it’s true. I’m paid by Yamaha till December so I respect the deal.”