LORENZO vs ROSSI THE BATTLE HOTS UP
Jorge Lorenzo left Qatar delighted not only with an incredible lap time that left him half a second clear of his opposition, but also with the progress he made with the new Michelin tyres in race simulations – and team-mate Valentino Rossi says the new tyres and electronics will make for thrilling endof-race battles this year.
Despite blitzing the opposition by going 0.3 under the circuit lap record, the most important component of the test for the reigning world champion Lorenzo was his pace over a longer distance; something sure to play to his style of controlling a race from the front.
Running for the first time on the Michelin tyres that will be in the allocation for next week’s opening race at Losail, Lorenzo was able to find fast lap times not only from the softer option tyre but also from the hard.
“I think with the Michelins were OK, especially with one lap, or even for two or three laps. In my race simulation, my first one using the Michelins, it was very good as well.
“Some riders made simulations with the soft one and it was successful for them, but I tried and didn’t like the lack of stability in the high-speed corners. It was very nervous. I saved one for my lap time, but I used the hard one for my final simulation.”
However, there will be another option available in next week’s opening race that may well give the best of both worlds. Only available to test riders like Honda’s Hiroshi Aoyama at the Qatar test, Michelin are also planning to take an intermediate option to the race, sitting between the hard and soft compounds. With the test riders who used the intermediate option giving good initial feedback, Lorenzo believes it may be the perfect balance for his assault on round one of the championship.
Rossi left Qatar in a positive mood after setting the fifth-fastest time. The final pre-season test also gave the Yamaha man his first experience of the Michelin tyres over race distance and he believes that the change to new rubber and reduced electronics will make the closing laps of this season’s races more difficult for everyone.
The combination of less sophisticated traction control – which Rossi has compared to the 2008 Yamaha M1’s – and Michelin tyres that perform well when worn looks set to put much more focus on riding ability.
“The race simulation I did on the final day was not so bad, because I did 15 laps with a good pace. For sure the tyre moves and slides, but you can push; you can stay on the rhythm.
“It was important because you don’t feel a lot of difference if you only do four or five laps. The races will become more difficult for the rider with the new electronics; you will have to do a lot more work. We’ll have to play more with the bike compared to last year, but that will be interesting!”
In fact, Rossi was quick to take positives from the test from every direction, even admitting that his two crashes – both from losing the front end – were something that he would learn from.
“I crashed after ten corners on the first day! I wasn’t going too fast, but I put too much angle on the left and the tyre was cold. It’s good for understanding the tyres a little better.”
The nine-time world champion also looks set to continue his new working relationship with former racer Luca Cadalora into the new season, after bringing in the three-time world champion as a riding coach for the first time at the Australian test last month.