The Struggles, The Crises, The Successes: Lorenzo Reveals It All

Review by Mike Nicks

As we watch Jorge Lorenzo struggling to cope with the aftermath of the huge crash he suffered in first practice at Shanghai for the Chinese MotoGP, it's as well to remember that this isn't the first time that the 20-year-old has faced - and overcome - a major crisis in his life.

In 2006, when he was still only 18, Lorenzo won the first two rounds of the 250cc world championship, but then suffered a collapse of confidence that provoked a series of crashes and a solitary fourth place in three successive GPs.

The problem: a battle for control of the boy's future between his father Chicho and Lorenzo's current manager and mentor, Dani Amatria?n. The storm of conflicting opinions and accusations erupting around Lorenzo's head shattered his morale and concentration, and threatened his entire career.

Eventually, Lorenzo sided with his manager and split acrimoniously with his father. But he immediately won again in the sixth round of the championship in Italy, and went on to take the first of his two successive 250cc world championships.

All this is dramatically related in Lorenzo's new biography, Jorge Lorenzo: Por Fuera desde Dentro, which has just been published in Spain. Jorge, who will be 21 on Sunday, collaborated with Ernest Riveras, a journalist with the Spanish TV channel TVE.

Into the Latin heart of MotoGP

A bit pushy, wanting to publish your story when you're still only 20? But that's the style of Lorenzo, a boy who always wanted to be different from the rest.

And his desire to publish has been justified: he and Riveras have produced a terrific book that takes you right to the heart of the tensions and emotion within the big Latin teams that dominate MotoGP.

It's so easy for fans to dismiss a rider who's not getting results as crap, a crasher, an idiot, or any of the million-and-one epithets that are tossed around in pub discussions and internet chat rooms. But when you've read this book, and appreciated how hard it is for a rider to get himself into the right mental condition for winning - and how easy it is to lose that fragile balance - you might be a little slower to criticise.

Chicho Lorenzo identified his son's ability on two wheels when the boy was only tiny. He used tactics such as removing the front brake from the bike so that the little Jorge could only slow down by sliding the machine sideways on asphalt.

Like Dani Pedrosa, Spain's other MotoGP prodigy, Jorge's family were working people who needed financial help to get their son to the top. That's when the link with the experienced Amatria?n was forged.

The father-son clash

What happened in the 2006 season will provide fascinating reading for any father who believes that his son can be a future MotoGP champion.

Chicho had appointed a sports psychologist to coach his boy: Amatria?n believed that the psychologist's advice wasn't working. Jorge was surrounded by his father, his girl-friend, Amatria?n, his physical trainer Marcos Hirsch, and others, all trying to do their best for him, but offering opposing opinions.

Result? Crashes, loss of confidence and results. There were fears above all for the lad's safety on his 170mph Aprilia.

Hypnosis - and no mobile

But once Jorge had chosen his side, the results flowed again. Hirsch used hypnosis techniques developed by the American psychiatrist Milton H Erickson to permit Lorenzo to visualize success, and with Jorge's agreement, they took his mobile phone away from him during race weekends so that his concentration wouldn't be shattered.

The outcome was the two world championships in 2006-07, the winning of a place in the Fiat Yamaha team, and a MotoGP victory within three races this season.

You really warm to Jorge Lorenzo and his mission when you read this book. The boy is honest enough to admit the severe lack of socials skills that he unconsciously displayed as a teenager. He was introvert, uncommunicative, surly: a spoilt little brat.

He couldn't figure out why Dani Pedrosa was getting a warmer reception from fans and media than he was. So he put himself through media coaching, and reworked his personality, all with the objective of creating rapport with the fans.

It's never easy to confront one's own flaws: it must have been even harder for Lorenzo to do this and correct them amidst all the time pressures of developing his skills on the track.

Lorenzo's stunts

This flowering of his personality culminated in the creation of The Loren Show, the series of post-victory, Rossi-influenced stunts that he launched in 2006.

This was followed by the Lorenzo's Land spectacle in 2007 - the planting of a flag bearing his X Fuera logo into the ground after he had won.

Lorenzo remains a controversial character who is going to have a massive influence in MotoGP in future seasons: his book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how Spain so consistently turns out great riders and champions.