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Zeelenberg: ‘Keeping Lorenzo with Yamaha is our priority’

Zeelenberg: ‘Keeping Lorenzo with Yamaha is our priority’

Having worked with Jorge Lorenzo for over four years as a Team Manager, Wilco Zeelenberg has helped guide the rider to two premier class World titles and he believes the Spaniard will stay with Yamaha beyond 2014.  

Zeelenberg works alongside Lorenzo and Ramon Forcada (Lorenzo’s Crew Chief) in the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team helping them to communicate with Yamaha’s Japanese engineers and contributing to the workflow between the race track and the Factory.

It has been a successful structure for the team, with Zeelenberg contributing to the 2010 and 2012 MotoGP™ World titles secured by Lorenzo.

The former Grand Prix rider explained to French publication Offbikes how he approaches his job in MotoGP™, saying, “For me, my target to do my job well is to try to add something to the team performance wise. We have very good technicians, we have a well performing bike and we have good riders so to add something is not easy. I think this is where I match quite well on the communications side, because I think it is sometimes difficult to understand a rider and understand what he needs. So I’m involved in this area, although I am not a decision maker on this, because we have Ramon who is doing his job fantastically.”

“But sometimes the way Jorge is explaining things I can explain and confirm in a different way and then everybody understands. His explanations are getting better and better though, so I have to say less and less!”

On his day-to-day input Zeelenberg comments, “I’m always around the race track during practices, so I can check what he (Jorge) is saying. One of the problems when you are a rider is you can feel things for yourself but it is difficult to judge the others. Ok you have the overall lap time but by seeing the riders’ body language and their position on the bikes you can see where the other riders are pushing and where they are struggling. You can also see where the bikes are spinning or wheelie-ing or if the traction control is too much. So that helps him, that keeps him under control and he understands he is not the only one riding the bike and absorbing the race track.”

Regarding Lorenzo’s form in the first half of 2014, which has seen him unable to win a race so far and not feature on the podium as regularly as he would have liked, Zeelenberg gives an insight into the way things have gone and how he as tried to assist.

“Of course we tried very hard,” stated the Dutchman, “He has his talent and his skills but it is very easy to lose the way and get frustrated and I would say we were a little bit in that area. He was willing to go fast but he could not. In those moments I think you have to realize that if you force it too much, because you know you have the speed, but you cannot prove it, then you could start to crash. Then you could hurt yourself and you only go down more. In this area I think we did well because finally he did not crash.”

On the future of Lorenzo with the team, Zeelenberg concluded, “I have been a Yamaha man for 12 or 13 years so my first intention is to keep Jorge with Yamaha. This is our priority to keep Jorge and Jorge is willing to stay for sure.”

MotoGP, 2014, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP

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