As I listened to Casey Stoner explain how he rode around the flu, a chattering bike, and his latest bout with arm pump to stay just far enough ahead of Jorge Lorenzo to win the final GP at Estoril, I couldn’t help but wonderi how Lorenzo sees his future. It can’t seem as bright as it did at the end of his nearly perfect 2010 season.
Lorenzo had succeeded in mounting so much pressure on his Fiat-Yamaha teammate that Rossi started crashing, and ultimately left Yamaha for Ducati, rather than remain on the same team as the Spaniard. But for Lorenzo, that only exchanged one demon for another, this one in the form on Stoner on a Honda — a combination that now appears pretty much unbeatable over the course of a season.
The 2012 Yamaha M1 is good enough to beat the 2012 Honda RC213V, unless Casey is on it, and not in so much pain that he can barely hang onto the bike. But can Yamaha find enough in its package to make gains even while HRC is continuing to refine its own bike? If not, Lorenzo will have to ride better than Casey Stoner, and as good as Lorenzo is, what a challenge that is to face each race day morning.
To me this is one of the most interesting questions to be told in 2012. Lorenzo on a Yamaha is probably the second most potent combination on motorcycle racing, followed closely by Pedrosa on a Honda. But is the Stoner/HRC package simply too much to catch and pass?
As he puts in his best effort, which I’m sure Jorge will, I hope he can avoid thinking too much about Marc Marquez, who will arrive in 2013. His hands are full now, and next season things could be even worse. So I’m looking forward to watching another great effort, and I’m certain Lorenzo will give it everything he’s got.
Scott Jones is a professional photographer who covers MotoGP and WSBK for racing industry clients as well as racing websites and publications in the U.S. and Europe. His online archive is available at Photo.GP, and you can find him on his blog, Twitter, & Facebook.
All images posted, shared, or sent for editorial use or review are registered for full copyright protection at the Library of Congress.
Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved