until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Zero wins in 17 years – but is Lorenzo’s Espargaro jibe fair?

by Simon Patterson
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Jorge Lorenzo is enjoying retirement by starting arguments with other MotoGP racers on social media.

After relighting a fire with Cal Crutchlow and Jack Miller following the final night of the opening pre-season test in Qatar, Lorenzo has today turned his attentions on Aleix Espargaro – calling out the Spaniard’s winless MotoGP record.

May 05 : Inside the mind of Jorge Lorenzo

Espargaro became embroiled in the feud of his own volition last night when he commented on Lorenzo and Crutchlow’s row by sharing his support for the British rider, saying that he would “rather be a good human than a champion” – an obvious reference to Lorenzo’s oft-cited legacy as a five-time world champion – and adding his love for Crutchlow.

After a brief back-and-forth where Lorenzo suggested that Espargaro should try being both a good human and a champion at the same time, he then posted a screenshot of Espargaro’s Wikipedia page, highlighting that his former rival has raced in grand prix motorcycling since 2004 without a single victory. That’s 17 winless seasons rather than the 18 Lorenzo suggests, as expecting Espargaro to have won in 2021 when the championship hasn’t yet begun is a bit harsh.

That stat that leaves him on a short list alongside only his rookie Aprilia team-mate Lorenzo Savadori and 21-year-old Tech3 KTM rider Iker Lecuona.

But is it really a fair summary of Espargaro’s entire career to boil his continuing place on the grid (something Lorenzo ironically attributes to Albert Valera, the manager that both riders share!) down to that stat, or is there more to the 31-year-old’s status as a factory rider for the past six years?

When you look at the bigger picture, Espargaro has been a valued member of all the teams he’s been a part of in recent years despite never making it to the top step of the podium.

For one, he’s a hell of a team player, staying true to teams once he’s signed for them, taking on his share of development burdens and always keen to give his fullest to the projects.

He’s been rewarded in kind, as he established himself well at Aprilia’s CRT programme, in Suzuki’s reborn team in 2015, and then again as the steady hand guiding Aprilia’s upgraded MotoGP effort.

With that loyalty has come the ability to help steer development in the right direction for him while (especially at Aprilia) his team-mates have barely been able to get a foot in the door.

Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Barcelona MotoGP 2015

There’s no question that both the Suzuki GSX-RR and the Aprilia RS-GP have come on leaps and bounds under Espargaro’s guidance.

When his current deal ends at the end of 2022, it’ll be a huge surprise if no one moves to snap him up either as a racer or a test rider, should he wish to step back from racing – a move that, let’s not forget, didn’t quite work out for Lorenzo at Yamaha.

But more than that, he is actually also bloody fast on his day. He’s always been both brave and impressive over one lap, sticking under-developed bikes where arguably they’ve got no right to be – see his 2014 Assen pole position on the Forward Yamaha (pictured below) and at Barcelona with the Suzuki in its very first year in 2015, and third overall in this week’s test on the Aprilia.

He’s also shown his ability to over-ride the bike and deliver results in races too. With Espargaro having been a stand-out performer over the years at Aragon, Losail and Jerez to name just a few tracks where he’s thrived, it’s a strange season when he can’t deliver one or two strong results even in the middle of an otherwise difficult year.

Sure, he’s occasionally aided in picking up some good results by circumstance or by luck, but that’s not taking away anything from his hard work (especially in the gym), his dedication to the job in hand, and his ability to dig deep when he senses that there’s a prize on the line.

Aleix Espargaro Forward Assen MotoGP 2014

While the MotoGP world might be up in arms at Lorenzo’s outright trolling of some of his former rivals at the minute, there’s one important caveat to add to his comments: I might be in the minority here, but I don’t think there’s any malice in his straight-up shitposting about them.

Lorenzo has always been outspoken (something Espargaro can’t exactly hold against him given the way he waded into the row!), and he’s clearly enjoying himself in retirement.

Currently laying on a beach in the Maldives while his opponents are cooped up in a Qatari hotel, he’s having fun at their expense, but I’m fairly sure there’s not much serious anger or bitterness behind what he’s saying.

As someone not particularly adverse to winding up people on social media myself, I can’t even say I particularly blame him…

Although I have to admit, in his current circumstance I’d be more inclined to pick up the sunscreen and a coconut full of rum than my phone!

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