Ryder Notes: OCD
by julian ryder, on the ground in the UK
Tuesday, April 15, 2014

After the race, Jorge Lorenzo commiserated with the one person who would understand when bizarre stuff happens on a Yamaha: his former teammate Ben Spies.
image by willy ivins

Quite a few people didn't believe their eyes. Aleix Espargaro for one; he forgot to start. Valentino Rossi for another; he was confused. And Marc Marquez; he thought he'd been beaten off the line again.

The cause of the confusion was Jorge Lorenzo, or rather his world-class false start. What on earth caused Jorge to jump before Bradley Smith (right behind him) even had his bike in gear? The answer would appear to be bugs. He collected a few "mosquitos" on his visor on the out lap so removed a tear-off on the grid; "I don't normally do this." Evidently this was enough to disconcert our man and he was still rattled by this deviation from his routine when the starting lights went on. You may have noticed that GPs start when the lights go off; unfortunately a mildly anxious Jorge just noticed the change, and went.

This all sounds a little far-fetched, but the view of other riders is instructive. Smith said that if his bike had been in gear, he'd have gone, too. Note that Bradley also has a strict routine that includes putting the bike in gear as the lights come on. The other men on the second row were seriously disturbed. Marc Marquez, on pole, at first thought he'd been beaten off the start again, then he saw Jorge shaking his head. Most riders have a set routine for the start. It's part of getting in the zone, and yes it can look a little like OCD to us outsiders. If you hang around with riders or visit their homes, then you tend to see neatness going from the, well, neat, to the utterly obsessive where a kitchen implement not at 90 degrees to the counter top is an offense against the order of the universe. Watch them at breakfast in a hotel, the salt and pepper gets rearranged just so. Things just have to be ordered in a sportsman's life. So yes, Jorge's reason for the jump start sounds crazy, but I buy it. Have you read his book? If you have, you'd believe it as well.

Marc's remark about being disappointed that he was beaten off the line was not just a joke at Jorge's expense. Just about the only weakness he showed last year was at the start, and at times Lorenzo took full advantage and escaped. So Marc did a lot of work in the tests, particularly at Valencia, on eliminating that weakness. As it turned out, Marc needn't have worried. If he has got his starts sorted, the rest can start worrying even more.

If that were possible.


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