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Lorenzo: "I believe I could make history with Ducati"
Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) is currently third in the standings of the 2016 MotoGP™ World Championship, after taking the early lead following a stunning win in the opening race of the year. The season has been one of impressive turns of pace for the reigning Champion – such as in Le Mans – countered by some tyre struggles and setup gambles. A challenging mid-season stint has seen Lorenzo now chasing teammate Valentino Rossi for P2 and 14 points down – but the pair are still very much in the hunt for the crown, mathematically. His as yet three victories – including an almost unbelievable win over the line in Mugello against title leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – see the 2010, 2012 and 2015 MotoGP™ World Champion well-set in his assault for P2, and focused on maximizing the rest of the year. And then, at the end of that year, the ‘Spartan’ will move house – to Ducati.
Jorge Lorenzo: “Last year the Championship was possible, this year it’s possible but very complicated, almost impossible. We should have a lot of luck and Marquez should be very unlucky. For the points, I think we have much more chance to finish trying to fight for the second place than winning the Championship. I really think that with the same rules as last year we would have more or less at least the same consistency of the riders as last year, but I think the consistency of the riders in a high percentage is because of the tyres.”
The key change, of course, being the change from Bridgestone rubber to Michelin over the winter break as the French manufacturer returned to supply the premier class.
JL99: “When you lose the front tyre is very difficult to recover and not crash. Maybe 90% of the time that you lose the front you crash, while last year was the opposite. That’s the reason why riders are making more mistakes, are making more zeros during the Championship. Marquez still crashed so many times but just in the practice - in the race he always finishes the race and this together with so many mistakes of the Yamaha riders means he is in front of the Championship with a lot of points of advantage.
“Especially for me, with the Bridgestone I was competitive, more or less in all the conditions, in all the tracks. But with the Michelin wet front tyre, from the first moment I tried it on the preseason, I felt the tyre was very soft and gives you the feeling that it’s very hard.”
After some difficult crashes in 2013 in the wet on Bridgestones, 2014 saw Lorenzo take his first victory of the year in difficult conditions at MotorLand Aragon – as well as a P4 in Silverstone in 2015 and a stunning early lead in the full wet conditions at Motegi last season as the title fight hotted up. With fresh machinery just around the corner, however, the Mallorcan is ready to see the difference with the Michelin tyre on the new bike.
JL99: “We have to see if Michelin changes the front tyre for the rain or if I have to really stand it to be much more competitive, if not in the future I will still lose a lot of points. And we will see what happens with another bike because it looks like with Ducati in the rain it’s easier to feel the limit, and the riders are very fast. But let’s see what’s going on in the future.”
That future now sees Lorenzo with four more races as a Yamaha rider – the team with whom he graduated to the premier class in 2008 – before a new adventure begins with legendary Italian manufacturer Ducati. So how does the reigning Champion of the world feel ahead of this new era of his career?
JL99: “The challenge is big and I think a lot of people are expecting me to try to be World Champion with this bike - and I think I did it in the right moment. If you have to make the jump, this is the right moment because Dall’Igna is here and if one person can fight with the Japanese factories it’s him.”
Gigi Dall’Igna – the man charged with changing around the fortunes of the Borgo Panigale factory – also has history with Lorenzo in the 250 World Championship, where the Mallorcan took back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007 with Aprilia. Two titles that began his current count of five – making Lorenzo the second most successful on the grid as it stands, and looking to turn his vast experience into more success. But pressure? No pressure.
JL99: “My biggest challenge in my career I think was when I entered the World Championship in 125. I really needed to get results to stay in this world, so that was really pressure and was really a challenge. Now that I became World Champion five times I’m here because I like it and I’m here because it’s my passion. I don’t have really big pressure to be honest. I really believe that one of my strong points is the adaptation, the fast adaptation to the bike. So let’s see, let’s see what happens and if I can also be fast and competitive with the Ducati, but obviously the challenge to win with a bike that only Casey Stoner was able to win on… I believe I can make history if this happens.”
More history will be made as the next race at Motegi leads the three-headed charge to Valencia in 2016, with another Champion crowned and another gala. And then, when the cava from the podium has run dry on another season, the 5-time World Champion will get his first chance to test out his new machine as he swaps blue for red, and takes the Ducati for a spin around the Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
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