2016 MOTOGP - KIND OF...
bunch of other mechanics, engineers and
technicians, with this 450 here we
basically can play with suspension sag,
tire pressure and gearing. Tire pressure is
the most important thing. It’s definitely
As Lorenzo is fitted for the YZ450F,
he’s equal parts nervous and excited. For
him, it’s a chance to just be a plain old
motorcycle rider again – and bonus if he
learns a few tricks while sliding around
the oval of decomposed granite.
“There’s definitely things you can learn
from flat track, and Jorge probably knows
that,” says Eikelberger.
And it’s not lost on anyone that it’s an
art practiced quite often back in Spain by
former MotoGP World Champion Marc
Marquez. The precociously talented
23-year-old phenom rides hard on the
front tire of his Honda, but has the
confidence to deal with whatever the rear
of the bike throws at him, no matter how
loose it gets or how crazy the angle.
Where Lorenzo is textbook in his fluidity,
Marquez’s style is one of constant,
reactive, way-off-the-bike movement.
“I’m sure Jorge sees how loose Marquez
rides in MotoGP, how fast he is, and thinks
there may be something to this flat
track,” adds Eikelberger. “Any little edge
you can get in our sport is an advantage.”
Joining Lorenzo at Perris is Yamaha
supercross ace Chad Reed. The evergreen
veteran started out in dirt-track racing
back home in Australia, so he’s not missing
a chance to have fun with Lorenzo.
“To come out here, we just slapped on
Kurri Kurri in New South Wales, Australia,
is far off the beaten path. Population
5,772, it was named by a surveyor
named T. Smith who believed Kurri Kurri
meant “hurry along” in a local dialect.
A town formerly powered by mines
and coalfields, it was also the birthplace
of two budding motorcycle racers who
would go on to international acclaim
and stardom. One was 2007 and ’ 11
MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner;
the other, multi-time Supercross
Champion Chad Reed.
“Casey and I grew up less than a
mile away from each other,” recalls
Reed, “and the local flat track
everybody hit up was also less than a
mile away. That’s where we both raced.
“I love MotoGP. It’s easily my favorite
sport in the world. Of course motocross
and supercross have treated me well,
but I definitely have a lot of respect
for MotoGP. I grew up watching Wayne
Gardner and Mick Doohan on TV.
“Doohan, I think, is one of the best
ever. Winning five 500cc titles in a row
is amazing. As a kid, what Doohan and
Gardner did in road racing was
inspirational to me. I was kind of like,
‘Man, that’s my route. That’s my ticket
out of Australia to be World Champion.’
“At one time I thought road racing
was going to be my career. As it turned
out, I didn’t get the opportunity. But if
I had, I think it’s just a motorcycle at
the end of the day. You see the Jean-
Michele Bayles and the Doohans and
the Stoners, and everybody started on
dirt bikes. If road racing was my chosen
thing, I have to believe that the will and
the want and everything was there, so I
feel that I could have made it.”
(TOP) Kurri Kurri reunion. Casey Stoner
(left) and Chad Reed. (ABOVE) Stoner
took his first MotoGP title with Ducati.
REED’S RACING PATH
some lower suspension and flat track
wheels and tires on my supercross test
bike,” says Reed. “Not a lot of
preparation. It just shows you that it’s not
difficult to come out here and have a
good time. I’m stoked to go out and ride
these things with Jorge.”
Time to take to the oval, albeit in a
measured and methodical way as
Lorenzo, in particular, needs to dial in to a
different skill set.
“When I was a kid I practiced dirt track
a little bit on small bikes, just learning to
slide in left and right corners,” says
Lorenzo after his first, tentative stint.
“The power is much more significant here
and the track is very fast. This typical
American flat track, I’m not very used to
it. It’s different. It’s completely different.
But in the end there’s a throttle, a brake
“This typical American flat
track, I’m not very used
to it. It’s different. It’s
(ABOVE) Lorenzo was
joined by Supercross
ace Chad Reed, a rider
who cut his teeth on
dirt tracks. (LEFT)
Before the dirt starts
flying... The still
pristine helmets of
Reed and Lorenzo.