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Suggested Mapping: F*** Off | Columns | Gassit Garage | MotoGP | Sport

You have to love Jorge Lorenzo. Or not. Always his own man, with a unique view of his place in the world, Jorge made a marvellous meal of team orders at the final grand prix of the season at Valencia.

Team orders are controversial enough anyway. Perhaps it was in the interests of decency, sportsmanship, truth and beauty that Jorge held himself aloof. But more likely because his opinion of himself over-rides such petty considerations as following direct orders from people paying enormous sums of money into his (possibly off-shore) bank account.

At Valencia, his Ducati team was sending completely transparent coded messages to his dashboard screen, and even more direct instruction on his pit board.

Slow down, they said. Lose one place. Let your teammate pass you, so maybe he can influence the race. He has a chance of that. And maybe even win the world championship. Give it to him.

But Jorge – well, he had a better idea. So he just ignored them all and carried on regardless.

The tragicomedy continued, lap by lap. Dorna’s TV cameras showed mechanics on the pit wall looking increasingly puzzled, shrugging helplessly at one another. “We’re telling him,” Jorge’s guys told Dovi’s guys.

In the pit box, more senior elements were likewise waving distractedly, eyes wide with disbelief.

And on Jorge went, round and round, and round and round.  He didn’t even bother to flip them the bird as he went by.

The situation was like this: Dovi had to win, and for Márquez to finish lower than 11th. Preferably not to finish, since that would simplify matters. Now they were underway, and Zarco was leading Márquez and Repsol Honda teammate Pedrosa. Close behind Jorge, and right up his chuff (“Right in his face,” as Dorna’s departing commentator Nick Harris would repeatedly insist) was Dovi.

If Dovi had been able to get up with the front trio, there was the chance he might push Márquez into making a mistake. After all, Marc had already fallen off twice that weekend.

To be honest, it was not much of a chance. Dovi would not only have to force Márquez into an error, but also find a way past Pedrosa, as well as Zarco. At a track where neither he nor his Desmosedici were at their best.

But most people, including Ducati management, thought he should at least be given that chance.

Suggested Mapping: Mapping 8 read the message on Jorge’s dashboard. Twice.

Had he been able to respond (this on-bike tweeting is but one-way communication), the answer might have been Suggested Action – F*** Off.

Well, in the end none of this made any difference. Both Ducati riders fell off, and Márquez only stayed on by one of his usual personal miracles.

Now it was just the post-mortems. And here came another round of blissfully amusing back-pedalling. The only person to emerge with any credit was Dovi himself, always the gentleman and declining to pass any negative comment, no matter how frustrated that gap of a couple of tenths lap after lap must have been. “In the end,” he said, “staying behind him helped me ride in a smoother way, so it was positive he was in front of me.”

Jorge remained autocratic and autonomous. He knew best, after all.

“I analysed the situation and I thought that it was better to try and give him a tow to reach the leading group. If we had caught Zarco and Pedrosa I would certainly have let him past,” he said.

But the most frantic justification came from Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall’Igna, whose orders had been so publicly thrown back his face. He was dealing with a fait accompli. The message, he said “was a suggestion, not an order”.

Hope there won’t be any misunderstanding about the number of zeros on Lorenzo’s next contract. 

By Michael Scott

As published in AMCN (Vol 67 No 11)

Lorenzo, Valencia MotoGP 2017