Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) set Friday’s fastest time at the Sachsenring despite Honda having reigned the venue since 2010, and the five-time World Champion was only half a second off the pole lap record set by eight-in-a-row winner Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) to make a big statement for Ducati on Day 1. Another GP18 was second as Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) was closest challenger to the Mallorcan, and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was also up there in the party in fourth. That makes for good reading for the Borgo Panigale factory and Lorenzo - who was sporting more ergonomic adjustments to his fuel tank - was understandably positive.
“It’s been great. I’m very happy about today because we made a huge improvement from the morning to the afternoon in terms of working on the bike and I feel much better than last year,” says the ‘Spartan’. “The weather is helping to have a consistency of temperature to work on the bike. Let’s see tomorrow! Marc is the favourite here and he didn’t put on new tyres, so we’ll have to see what laptime he can get tomorrow but I think we’re closer than last year.”
Lorenzo even says that the win, despite Marquez’ record, isn’t just a dream. “We have a good opportunity here to fight for the podium and victory is not impossible! It’s difficult because Marc is very strong here but I think we can get a better result than last year.”
The venue is one of the few at which Lorenzo has never been on the top step but having won two of the last three races, none of his rivals will be ruling him out. And his positivity wasn’t alone, either, with Petrucci concerned about his own tyre life – a well-known apprehension for the Italian at times – but agreeing it was a good start, and Dovizioso echoing what he said in the pre-event Press Conference that the bike is better than last year. ‘DesmoDovi’ did, however, share his compatriot’s concerns about tyres.
“I’m happy about it,” says the number 04 on the Ducati domination of the timesheets. “It means our base is good like we expected yesterday; our bike is a bit better than last year so we’re able to start with a good base. But with our characteristics I don’t think what we did today is enough because the tyre consumption is strange and more than the past, it seems. So everyone has to work on the speed but more on the life of the rear tyre.”
So how is the bike better? Everywhere is the answer – but it’s not perfect as yet, with plenty to work on as track action continues.
“We’re a bit better overall, turning, braking stability, but still turning isn’t perfect and in some corners we struggle a bit, especially when the tyre drops. But we have tomorrow to work on that.” In conclusion? “I’m happy the speed is there but not 100% because of the rear tyre. So there’s a lot of work to do.”
Can Ducati continue to take back the Sachsenring for the first time since 2008? They’ll be back out to carry on as FP3 decides Q1 graduation from 9:55 (GMT +2), before qualifying from 14:10.