Jorge Lorenzo stopped just short of calling it a perfect race but this is as good as it gets.
Lorenzo’s brilliantly conceived and “close to perfect” victory in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix has triggered a last race showdown for the 2013 MotoGP World Championship.
After gambling on a soft tire choice, Lorenzo hammered out 24 laps in a masterclass of front-running pace to pile the pressure on his title rival Marc Marquez with just one race remaining.
Lorenzo described his 51st career victory – across three GP classes - as “very special.” It also marked Lorenzo’s 30th win in the premier class in just 101 starts.
The defending world champion admitted to just one mistake in a race that delivered a crucial victory for Yamaha at the Motegi Circuit owned by their great rivals Honda.
“This is a special moment and one of the happiest days in my MotoGP career,” Lorenzo said.
“I made just one mistake, in the first lap at the second corner, I braked too late and I was wide.
“With 51 victories it is difficult to remember every one but for sure this one of my best. My concentration and my pace was the same every lap , even at the end of the race with a soft tire I was the same or a little faster.
“This track was the hardest track for us to take a victory but we did it. It is a special race because it is the 200th victory of Yamaha in MotoGP and it came at Honda’s home track in front of the Yamaha president.”
With nothing to lose, Lorenzo backed his strategy of going gangbusters for race wins in a bid to force Marquez’s hand in an increasingly tense title fight.
A month ago, Lorenzo was 43 behinds behind. With one race to go, the gap is 13 points and Lorenzo laments that his excellence at Motegi could not have delivered more.
Marquez shrugged off the body pain of a heavy warm-up session crash to finish second, continuing his amazing streak of podium places in his rookie season.
“The only bad thing about this victory is that I recovered only five points to Marc but I did everything that was possible to do,” Lorenzo said.
“I didn’t feel I was under so much pressure in this race, I think Marc was under a little more pressure.”
Since the Aragon GP in September, Lorenzo has declared that his only option to retain his world title is go for race wins in bid to upset the often stunning pace of the Marquez-Honda combination.
His strategy has forced free-wheeling rookie Marquez to at least momentarily assess the risk-reward ratio by taking a safe 20 points for second in Japan.
And the scenario remains unchanged for the title climax in Valencia. If Lorenzo wins that race, Marquez has the luxury of cruising home in fourth or better to claim the world title.