Pressure comes in many different varieties in motorcycle racing. There is always the internal pressure to perform, of course, but that is natural. Without that, there are no results.
There is external pressure from the team, who want to succeed just as badly as the rider does. There is pressure from sponsors, who want to know their money has been well spent.
There is pressure from friends and family, who want to see a rider succeed, and from the fans, who will on their favorite riders. How a rider handles this pressure is usually the difference between success and failure in MotoGP.
Then there are occasions when the pressure rises to bursting point. When fighting for a championship, for example, when riders both need to win, but at the same time, they can’t afford to fall off.
Or at a rider’s home race, when the fans, the media are all willing you on to win, and show a lack of understanding if that doesn’t happen. How a rider handles this pressure is the difference between being a very good rider and being a great champion.
Riding at home can create extra pressure, especially if you are the only rider representing your country of birth. When it comes to home races, Spanish and Italian riders are at an advantage.
The pressure they have on them is much less than some of the other nationalities in MotoGP. Firstly, they have multiple attempts at getting it right at their home race. With four races in Spain and two in Italy, riders know that if they don’t do well in their first home race, they will get another shot at a second race.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there are plenty of riders to share the stress with. At Mugello in two weeks’ time, fans will come to see Valentino Rossi win, but will be just as happy if Andrea Dovizioso wins, or Andrea Iannone, or Danilo Petrucci, or even Franco Morbidelli.
Two weeks after that the fans will be cheering for Marc Márquez, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, the Espargaro brothers, Alex Rins, Tito Rabat. There isn’t the focus on one rider, who has one race to get everything just right.