Millions saw it on their screens: on Friday morning at Rio, Jorge Lorenzo had just finished his first stint in practice and he brought the GP17 to the Ducati garage. He handed the bike to his mechanics, took his helmet off and sat down in his designated spot at the back of the garage. A flurry of conversation happened between he and his crewchief–it looked tense.
Ducati Racing’s top engineer Gigi Dall’Igna then appeared in front of Lorenzo. Lorenzo clutched in his hand a clipboard with a printed illustration of the Rio track map on it.
Dall’Igna stooped down on one knee to communicate eye to eye with Lorenzo. Lorenzo looked at the clipboard and with his finger pointed to the entrance of several corners at Rio. He then did the “very unstable” motions with his hands like he were grasping a set of clip ons that looked more like butter-churns than handlebars.
Dall-Inga’s immediate body language was unmistakable. He tensed up and his shoulders shrank as he realized what Lorenzo was saying. Then he ran his hand through his grey hair before trying to assist Lorenzo.
Some details related to this incident are more than matters of observation:
- Lorenzo is probably one of the hardest riders to work with in MotoGP.
- There is a lot more riding on the pairing of Lorenzo and Ducati than just a success or failure of a MotoGP rider.
- Dall’Inga has had two re-designs to fix what ails the Ducati MotoGP bike. To some, the theater around Ducati’s 2016 wings controversy proved what they had suspected: that the Ducati GP16-17 isn’t completely fixed or it is now just broken in different ways than it was before.
The good news for Lorenzo and his boss is that after the race on Sunday there were no shortage of riders, teams and manufacturers who were injured by the events at Rio. And no shortage of people running their hands through their hair to relieve stress.