LEAD­ING BY

He’s the reign­ing world cham­pion, dom­i­nated win­ter test­ing and has the mea­sure of the Miche­lins. So what makes Lorenzo so damn good?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Motogp Preview - By Si­mon Patterson MO­TOGP REPORTER

orge Lorenzo has dom­i­nated win­ter test­ing, top­ping four out of nine days and two out of three tests, with only a bad re­sult at Phillip Is­land blot­ting his ledger. On top of that, he did dou­ble the num­ber of laps within a se­cond of the lap record than any of his com­peti­tors, 11 laps un­der the lap record, and fin­ished the open­ing test of the year nearly a se­cond faster than the rest.

We al­ready know Lorenzo is fast – he proved that last year by boss­ing the seven races he won, lead­ing ev­ery one from startto-fin­ish. But what has given him such a huge ad­van­tage in 2016 be­fore the sea­son has even be­gun?

Rather counter-in­tu­itively, it seems that his new speed is com­ing from the step back­wards that Mo­togp has taken for this year, with new and still un­pre­dictable tyres and, more im­por­tantly, trac­tion con­trol and rider aids that are far less ad­vanced than they were last year.

What that trans­lates to is more skill and more rider in­put needed – and that suits the

Jsilky smooth style of Lorenzo down to a tee.

“With the new elec­tron­ics, you have to be smooth, and it will give me an ad­van­tage, be­cause I have al­ways been a smooth rider. You have to be care­ful with the throt­tle and the lean an­gle; it’s not easy to stay on the bike!” he said.

“I need to un­der­stand the elec­tron­ics bet­ter, but ev­ery rider is go­ing through the same thing, al­though we are stronger now than last year.”

The new Miche­lins also play to the dou­ble 250GP ti­tle win­ner’s style. Gone is the con­fi­dence-in­spir­ing Bridge­stone front, re­placed with a grippy rear that re­wards cor­ner speed, some­thing the man who learned his trade on a 250cc two-stroke has in spades.

How­ever, there is a catch. The new tyres may serve to halt the tra­di­tional Lorenzo early charge, a trade­mark of his style that of­ten al­lows him to gap his ri­vals be­fore there’s even time for a race to break out.

“The first lap won’t be as fast as last year. The first lap you’ll need to be care­ful, more pre­cise, more smooth un­til the tyres heat up, es­pe­cially in colder con­di­tions.

“In terms of safety that’s a lit­tle worse, es­pe­cially when the tyre cools down and you’re not con­cen­trat­ing as much on the warm-up lap, then sud­denly you want to push hard again this can cause some crashes. Plus, on the first lap you need to heat the tyre more than last year; with only one or two cor­ners the Bridge­stone was ready to push at the max­i­mum.”

But, demon­strat­ing in test­ing that he’s able to find speed from the Miche­lins through­out longer runs and not just in the early stages with a fresh tyre, it seems like the stars have aligned for Lorenzo and his hopes of mak­ing a suc­cess­ful ti­tle de­fence in 2016.

“At the minute, the strong­est point is my lap time! To get it, you have to be good al­most ev­ery­where, and we are. We’re still miss­ing some top speed on straights, but we have good brak­ing, good cor­ner speed and good ac­cel­er­a­tion. I’m happy with the lap time and the sim­u­la­tion and we are ready for the races.”

even though we strug­gled a lit­tle bit at Phillip Is­land, over­all we’re pleased with where we’re at.

“I think the bike is a lit­tle bit harder to ride this year, and to ride a dif­fi­cult bike and to con­trol a dif­fi­cult en­gine is a lit­tle bit harder than with a smooth en­gine. That’s one of the key points we’re tak­ing our strength from.”

How­ever, he was also keen to make a stark warn­ing that while ev­ery­thing looks rosy for the de­fend­ing cham­pion at the minute, it’s go­ing to be a long sea­son ahead.

“We have a com­pletely new bike, thanks to the elec­tron­ics and the tyres, so ev­ery­where we go we’re go­ing to have to start from zero and see what it brings.

“We saw that oth­ers have had prob­lems, and it’s been quite sur­pris­ing that we haven’t found any – but we have to be aware that we could run into those this year too. We have to face the facts that it could hap­pen.”

‘We have a new bike, thanks to the elec­tron­ics and the tyres’

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