Jorge Lorenzo is smiling for the cameras but he’s in serious pain. “I’m very sore,” the three-time MotoGP champion tells us of his latest high speed crash in Japan. “My left leg, I have a lot of pain. It’s very blue. All blue.”
And yet, the 29-year-old Spaniard is putting on his best poker face today, sitting down and shaking hands with fans who’ve come to meet him in person at the Cosentino Sydney City Centre. Surrounded by immaculate quartz and flashy ultra compact surfaces, Lorenzo couldn’t be further from the buzz of the greasy pit garages, suicidal seagulls and sweeping corners of Philip Island.
Today he’s in Sydney chasing the sun and blue skies, a past time which he says is different to what he usually gets in Europe. He gazes out the window for a split second.
“I always say, Australia has a different skyline.”
Lorenzo isn’t just here to lose himself to the ether though. MotoGP is the world’s premiere sport contested on two wheels and when we quizzed Lorenzo on the scariest moments of his career, he only spoke of one – the very track he was here to race.
“Philip Island, 2011. I had a big crash on the second last corner and injured my finger tip. It was scary because it was very visual. Lots of blood.”
Lots of blood is an understatement. Google ‘Lorenzo finger’ and you’ll find a man grasping a hand which is missing a quarter of a fourth finger – complete with exposed bone. This is the kind of stuff punters can expect when things go gnarly in MotoGP.
Compounding this further is the fact that Lorenzo can’t even recall how many bones he’s broken to date. The best ball park figure he could give us?
“Too much. More than ten for sure.”
“The hardest thing about MotoGP…” he says. “It’s the injuries. It’s still very dangerous.”
Thankfully this is a guy who has demonstrated steely determination and immense talent behind the handle bars.
Not only has this allowed him to push forward whilst remaining relatively unharmed, it has also earned him three world championships with Yamaha in a span of just five years.
With continual speculation of team mate rivalry reaching boiling point between himself and Italian rider Valentino Rossi, Lorenzo’s decision to move to Italian rival team Ducati in 2017 has done nothing to quell these rumours.
Is he optimistic about taking on an old team mate as a new rival in 2017?
“Well, I don’t think too much about that because I still have to race with Yamaha and have to fight for second place in the championship, but obviously you think about the future,” he says.
“It’s a great challenge. It gives me a lot of ambition and motivation. My dream will be to win a championship with Ducati.”
“To be a second rider after Casey [Stoner] to be able to do it. Not so many riders win with two different bikes and two different factories in history. There’s five [riders], I want to be the sixth one.”
Given that Australia’s Casey Stoner retired at the ripe old age of 28, it would be interesting to know where Lorenzo stood on this subject of hanging up the helmet if he had his way with Ducati.
“At the moment I have good motivation, good health and physical condition and I’m still fast, so for the moment I will keep competing,” he says.
“I understand Casey. As a child he had a lot of pressure to become world champion for himself and his family. This pressure and tension he feels, maybe it was too much for him. He loved to race but not the other parts that’s involved of being a rider – like interviews and that kind of stuff.”
“It was more like work for him, not a passion. So he had a family and baby.”
Staying grounded with a family hasn’t entered Lorenzo’s vernacular just yet either. To stay grounded in the jet-setting world of motorcycle racing, one needs to unwind with activities off the track.
Lorenzo says that cycling is kind of a hobby, but it’s more for his race preparation.
“My real hobbies are cinema, golf, tennis, soccer and video games. Ah, Halo! Yes, yes, Halo.”
He’s a big kid at heart after all.
Regardless of his mixed fortunes this season, Lorenzo continues to count his blessings in a sport which can either break your bones or your spirit. The only real gripe he has is his time away from friends and family, but other than that he considers himself pretty lucky.
And in reality, who wouldn’t when you’ve just picked up the new 2016 Porsche GT3RS worth AU$387,300.
What else is in Lorenzo’s garage?
“Wow. It’s kind of big,” he smiles.
“My first car was a BMW X5. I have been lucky to have a great car from the beginning. And then I have the Porsche GT3RS, McLaren 675LT, Lamborghini, Ferrari…”
Lorenzo pauses to think. Surely a man who needs to pause to think about what cars he has in his garage has won at life.
His best advice for those wanting to enter MotoGP then is simple: “Start soon. At 3 or 4-years-old. And be careful.”
Looks like we missed that bus then.