With his MotoGP championship bid in meltdown after just two races, Jorge Lorenzo has hit back at critics who claim that “mental disintegration” is central to his problems.
And that’s before he faces the question of whether he can regroup and match the flashy and increasingly fast form of his intense rival Marc Marquez.
This championship was billed as the Spanish civil war – Marquez and Honda versus Lorenzo and Yamaha.
The pair looked set to continue their intriguing 2013 title fight that saw Lorenzo win eight races, but Marquez take the championship by four points with six race wins.
Marquez and Lorenzo ended 2013 at another level to their rivals including their teammates Dani Pedrosa (Honda) and Valentino Rossi (Yamaha).
He has just six points after two races compared to Marquez’s perfect score of 50 points.
“I don’t have to think about the championship at this moment, the championship has started very, very bad for me,” Lorenzo said.
“But there are 16 races to go and now my goal is to be competitive as soon as possible and try to get my first podium and fight for a win a soon as possible.”
The two time world champion, 2010 and ’12, for Yamaha is clearly uncertain of when he can add to his impressive tally of 31 wins from 104 starts.
Not least because Marquez appears so comfortable with his high-risk riding style aboard Honda’s awesome MotoGP weapon, the RC213V.
Lorenzo crashed on the first lap of the opening race in Qatar with a daring strategy, but brushes off suggestions that his mental focus and confidence has suffered with a lack of confidence and distractions, including off-track commercial activities and disenchantment with the 2014 tire and bike regulations.
His fitness training was hampered by three off-season surges but Lorenzo – widely admired for his intense commitment to racing – reckons this is not a big issue.
“Now it is very easy to say these things, that Lorenzo is not the same, that Lorenzo is changing something and O.K., I accept the critics can say these things,” he said.
“But what can I do? I will keep working and I think it will come to me again and when things are more difficult I get motivated to be a better rider.”
The start of the Texas GP was one of the most difficult moments of his career and he admits to being “distracted” at a crucial moment, an uncharacteristic error from a rider renowned for eliminating mistakes.
“I arrived to the start line and I had too many bugs on my visor so I decided to take out the tear-off, which is something I never do at that moment, and this distracted me and took my focus,” he said.
“It was a confusion and I was thinking what I have to do when the lights came on but this time I didn’t think as normal. When I saw the light, like I bull, I just started.”
Lorenzo’s jump start momentarily destabilized his teammate Valentino Rossi who then faded to finish eighth saying he was slowed by a “destroyed front tire” after seven laps.
“I lost the moment, I was scared a little bit because I saw Jorge go and I was a bit stunned by this and thought, [explicit] what’s happened?’ said Rossi.
“And then the light went out and I was spinning on the dirty part of the track and made a s**t start.”
Lorenzo recovered for tenth after a pit-lane penalty but that error, and the inability of Pedrosa to match the front-running pace, saw Marquez cruise to victory to back his stunning win in Qatar last month.
Lorenzo hopes that his title chase takes an upswing in Argentina next week on a track that he has never raced at before.
“If the track in Argentina is similar to Austin it will be difficult but if it is a normal track maybe it can better for me,” Lorenzo said.