During preseason testing in 2012, eyes looked to the top of the time chart to read the tea leaves for the upcoming season, as usual.
But one other stat really caused heads to shake and brows to furrow outside of the Yamaha Factory Racing garage. Jorge Lorenzo showed an uncanny ability to click off lap after lap within one-tenth of a second - at a very rapid clip - while completing 15- to 20-lap race simulations on his M1.
Lorenzo never let up from preseason. He finished first or second in 16 of 18 starts in the 2012 MotoGP season to earn his second premier-class World Championship, joining his title from 2010.
It was a stunning example of relentless, metronomic punishment. The only time Lorenzo's Yamaha finished off the first two steps of the podium came in June at Assen, when he was submarined out of the race on the first lap by a reckless Alvaro Bautista, and in November at the wild season finale at Valencia, when he high-sided out of the race after having clinched the world title at the previous event.
Lorenzo helped himself by qualifying first or second in 13 of the 16 races in which he stood on one of the top two steps of the box. But he won after starting fourth at Le Mans and Silverstone and finished second after starting fifth at Sachsenring.
Dani Pedrosa also helped Lorenzo. Fellow Spaniard Pedrosa pushed Lorenzo for the entire season, losing any chance at winning his elusive first MotoGP World Championship only at the penultimate race of the season, at Phillip Island.
Lorenzo had to race like a machine, or Pedrosa would have nailed him for the title. That inexorable pressure from Pedrosa - especially in the second half of the season when Dani was on better, faster form, winning six of the last nine races - made Lorenzo's consistency look even more impressive.
|Here's what's truly crazy about Lorenzo's mind-melting 2012 season: It wasn't as good, statistically, as his first title-winning campaign in 2010. |
Here's what's truly crazy about Lorenzo's mind-melting 2012 season: It wasn't as good, statistically, as his first title-winning campaign in 2010. Like 2012, Lorenzo finished on the podium in 16 of 18 starts in 2010. But he placed fourth in the two non-podium results, running at the finish of all 18 starts. Plus he won nine races in 2010, six in 2012.
Still, the heat Lorenzo faced every race from Pedrosa put the accomplishments of this year on a level pedestal with those in 2010. It was a season for the ages, something Jorge Lorenzo is starting to make look routine.
It's anything but.