Remember the quaint stereotype of the wiley veteran taking the rookie under his arm and teaching him the ropes? Nothing of the sort happened when Jorge Lorenzo joined Valentino Rossi on the Yamaha factory MotoGP team in 2008. Quite the contrary, according to an interview given by Lorenzo to the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
Lorenzo indicates Rossi was anything but a mentor to him. From the beginning, Rossi wanted to wall off the paddock and run a different tire. According to Lorenzo, Rossi never once came to him and said “Jorge, this is how it’s done.” Rather, Rossi actively tried to prevent Lorenzo from learning the ropes.
On one level, perhaps, you can’t blame Rossi. Lorenzo started his rookie campaign with guns blazing . . . taking pole position and second place on the podium in his first race at Qatar in 2008. The kid was blazing fast from the get-go. How could the great Valentino Rossi be beaten by a rookie who just stepped off a 250? Rossi must have felt threatened, and apparently he immediately took steps to maintain his dominance, both on the team and in the entire series.
To his credit, unlike many other rivals Lorenzo never let Rossi get into his head. Lorenzo is fast, silky smooth, and also appears confident enough to ignore mind games. Sounds like a lethal combination that will continue to be hard to beat.