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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.

Af­ter mak­ing an in­stant con­nec­tion with the GP15, Red­ding cruised to se­cond fastest in Qatar Lorenzo lapped un­der the cir­cuit record at Qatar Rossi reck­ons the new tyres will make for close ac­tion in the last laps

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