Today’s press conference for the Silverstone GP saw the return of Jorge Lorenzo, who doubted to continue his MotoGP career. Jorge’s been out of the season for several months now following a crash in Assen that left him with two fractured vertebrae. After a long recovery we’ll see him back on track this weekend but a variety of questions loom around his return.
There’s the talk of his potential trade to Ducati and who initiated the conversation but what’s more interesting is his mental state. It was evident watching the presser that Jorge, formerly a multiple time World Champion, looked unnerved. And I think rightfully so.
His crash at Assen comes off the back of the two worst years in his career. As a rider that’s always finished the season in the top three, his first year at Ducati he finished 7th and the following year he finished in 9th place. And then the change to Honda hasn’t gone well either. Prior to his crash in Assen, Jorge hasn’t finished one race in 2019 in the top ten and he’s clearly struggling to get back to form.
In boxing a great fighter will always reach a point in their career where they start to decline – not necessarily physically, but mentally. The resources aren’t as sharp, the focus isn’t as clear and suddenly the risks of the sport become evident. I feel I saw this in Jorge today. I’ve never been a big fan of his, although I fully respect his accomplishments in the sport, but perhaps we’re watching a fighter on their way out. When he said “I started to have doubts about my life, about my career” is when the boxing analogy clued in. In motorsport the risks are very real and only become clear after a big crash like the one Jorge suffered in Assen – we often seen this same demeanour of a fighter after a brutal knockout.
So, this weekend will tell us a lot about where he stands mentally and his desire to compete in MotoGP. He’s surely out of championship contention this season, currently ranked 19th, but I can honestly say I’d love to see Jorge dig deep, fight through and return to form. We all love a good comeback story.
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