Untapped potential or a missed opportunity?
Lorenzo Lanzi sticks with World Superbike racing in 2010 for a sixth consecutive season, although many consider his most successful days are now behind him.
A long-time Ducati rider, including a two-year stint with the factory operation, it was that underwhelming tenure with the most coveted team on the grid that has since consigned him to privateer job offers.
Nonetheless, Lanzi lands at DFX for 2010 taking the place of Regis Laconi, who is choosing to remain cautious as he continues his long recovery from injury. It’s an appropriate place for Lanzi to be, Laconi having revived his career with a fine turn on the 1098 RS prior to his Kyalami accident – it is something that Lanzi will no doubt be looking to replicate this season.
Beginning his career on prototype machinery, Lanzi quickly progressed to the European stage in 1999, where he tasted success in both 125s and 250s before switching to the world championship in 2001.
Riding an Aprilia for the Campetella team, Lanzi struggled for form throughout the year, his best proving to be a few minor points finishes. His main highlight was an 11th place finish at Mugello and Phillip Island, but it would conspire to leave him a lowly 20th in the standings.
His struggles at 250cc level left Lanzi without a ride in 2002 as he pondered which path to pursue for the future. Eventually, he favoured a move to the Superstock 1000 series in 2003, a shrewd decision that would see him prove immediately competitive.
Winning his first race with the Rox Ducati team in a field consisting of mainly Suzukis and Yamahas, Lanzi would top the podium another three times to lift him into title contention. However, he would lose out to countryman Michel Fabrizioby three points.
Even so, he had done enough to earn a graduation to the World Supersport Championship, where he was even more unique in running Ducati, this time under the ‘Breil’ banner.
Despite failing to reach the podium once, Lanzi enjoyed a strong season amongst accomplished competition, finishing fourth on four occasions to place him fifth in the overall standings at the end of the year behind Karl Muggeridge, Broc Parkes, Jurgen Van Goorbergh and Sebastian Charpentier.
It was enough to convince Ducati’s favoured satellite outfit, SC Caracchi, to reward Lanzi with a promotion to the Superbike class for the first time in 2005.
Riding a non-factory specification 999, Lanzi endured a tough baptism of fire initially and by the sixth round had just a best result of 11th to show for. Nonetheless, a breakthrough fifth place at Misano was followed by a series of consistent showings, Lanzi finishing inside the top ten in all but one of the next eleven races.
His big break came with a promotion to the Xerox factory team to replace the injured Laconi during the tenth round of the season at Lausitz. Lanzi would put the bike on pole position for both races and while his chances in race one were scuppered by an error that necessitated a trip down the escape road – therefore earning him a drive-thru penalty – he made amends with a maiden victory in the second.
Although he returned to Caracchi for the final two rounds, Ducati honoured Lanzi with a factory-specification bike for the season finale at Magny-Cours, the Italian effectively guaranteeing himself a full-time berth with the manufacturer in 2010 by winning the last race of the year.
Moving alongside Troy Bayliss for 2006, big things were expected of Lanzi – an Italian rider on an Italian bike – following his efforts towards the end of 2005, but in reality, he failed to live up to expectations.
A double podium at the Valencia third round would prove to be a false dawn as Lanzi would fail to reach the rostrum at any other time in the season. He was at least consistent, failing to score on just four occasions, but with Bayliss romping to the world title, Lanzi’s eighth in the standings would prove disappointing.
Despite this, Lanzi was re-signed for a second season with the factory team and he began the year well with a third place finish at the Qatar curtain raiser. However, once again, Lanzi’s form would fade as the season wore on and while he was closer to Bayliss in terms of pace, his seventh in the final classification couldn’t save him from being dropped in favour of former Superstock sparring partner Fabrizio.
Lanzi stuck with Ducati machinery in 2008 after agreeing to join the privateer RG Team and appeared to revive his reputation with a shocking win at Valencia. While cynics will point out that it was achieved after Max Neukirchner and Carlos Checa tangled on the final corner of the race, Lanzi was still in the right place at the right time to create one of World Superbike’s major upsets.
Unfortunately, it was momentum that Lanzi failed to carry into the remainder of the year and save for a pair of sixth place finishes at Misano, he was often classified outside the top ten. With financial woes forcing the team to skip the final round, Lanzi was left 14th in the overall standings, albeit classified as third best privateer rider.
With RG dismantling, Lanzi began the 2009 season on the sidelines before, for the second time in his career, getting the call to replace the injured Laconi, this time at DFX Corse for five of the next six rounds.
Although he was forced to share the sole 1098RS with Fonsi Nieto towards the end of the year, Lanzi will now get a chance to perform with the team over a whole season after it was decided that Laconi is not able to return to racing just yet. Career Highlights:2010:
World Superbike Championship, DFX Ducati, 16th2009:
World Superbike Championship, DFX Ducati (5 races), 26th2008:
World Superbike Championship, RG Ducati, 14th (1 win) 2007:
World Superbike Championship, Ducati Xerox, 7th2006:
World Superbike Championship, Ducati Xerox, 8th2005:
World Superbike Championship, SC Caracchi / Xerox Ducati, 8th (2 wins) 2004:
World Supersport Championship, Breil Ducati, 5th2003:
FIM Superstock 1000 Championship, Rox Ducati, 2nd (4 wins) 2002:
Did Not Compete2001:
250cc World Championship, Campetella Aprilia, 20th2000:
250cc European Championship, 7th1999:
125cc European Championship, 12th1998:
Italian Sport Production Championship, 1st