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