Reign­ing champ set­tles for sec­ond but has his sights set on Span­ish ri­val as VR46 Mo­togp ru­mours de­nied

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - AT CIR­CUIT OF THE AMER­I­CAS MO­TOGP REPORTER si­mon.pat­ter­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

Jorge Lorenzo kept his cool in Texas to take a strong sec­ond place and keep run­away ti­tle leader Marc Mar­quez in sight.

The reign­ing Mo­togp cham­pion fin­ished be­hind Mar­quez in the open­ing round in Qatar, then crashed out in Ar­gentina last week and was de­ter­mined not to make the same mis­take again. He said: “The prob­lem in Ar­gentina was a lit­tle bit with the Miche­lins, a lit­tle bit with the patches of wa­ter – but I didn’t have the pa­tience to stay calm and un­der­stand that I couldn’t win. I could have had third place there like Dani (Pe­drosa) did. Be­cause I wasn’t used to the con­di­tions and thought it was safer than it was.

“I re­gret that now, but it’s the past and I can’t change it – but to­day you can see that I have learned. I’ve crashed, and I have to try not crash again. There will be tracks where I feel strong enough to win and that will be my tar­get. I can be happy, though, be­cause I did the best re­sult I could do in Austin – and we’re only 21 points be­hind af­ter a crash and go­ing to tracks where nor­mally I go bet­ter.”

How­ever, de­spite tak­ing a con­ser­va­tive ap­proach, it still wasn’t an easy race for Lorenzo, who was left fight­ing brake is­sues in the early part of the race that nearly ruled him out of con­tention al­to­gether.

Los­ing some of the grip ad­van­tage he had en­joyed over the week­end to a slip­pery track (caused in part by a light shower of rain just be­fore the race), his lack of feel­ing from the front end saw him re­peat­edly run wide – and al­most off the track.

“I had a lot of con­fi­dence with brak­ing all week­end, but to­day with the hard rear and with a full tank of gas I don’t know what hap­pened; I couldn’t stop the same. We had a lot of prob­lems with the bike run­ning wide and not turn­ing very well.

“Some­times it hap­pens – I was faster than I ex­pected in Qatar and got the lap record, and here I was slower than I ex­pected, but every­one else had so many prob­lems I was OK, even if Marc did what he has done for four years. We just couldn’t stop him.”

Once Lorenzo had set­tled into a rhythm he was able to build a big gap back to third place and avoid the chaos that was go­ing on fur­ther down the field with many rid­ers crash­ing out.

He added: “Rid­ers who are fight­ing for the cham­pi­onship crashed and this year we’re go­ing to see more mis­takes than the last four or five years, so the im­por­tant thing now af­ter crash­ing in Ar­gentina is to not crash any more and to re­duce the gap to Marc in the next few races.

“It’s very im­por­tant to stay in sec­ond place at this moment, and with Dovi, Rossi and Pe­drosa crash­ing we have one tar­get: Marc.

“Last year we left here with a 29-point dis­ad­van­tage, and now it’s only 21. Head­ing back to Europe we feel that maybe we can make the dif­fer­ence with the Miche­lins and the elec­tron­ics, so let’s see if the hopes match with the re­al­ity!”

Rossi was forced to counter ru­mours in the Span­ish press that his Team Sky VR46 squad were in­ter­ested in tak­ing over the fi­nal spot on the 2017 Mo­togp grid, af­ter re­ports that he would ex­pand his devel­op­ment squad to the premier class.

How­ever, Rossi ad­mit­ted that while the team are plan­ning an ex­pan­sion for next year, it will be not to the premier class but in­stead to the in­ter­me­di­ates.

“I hear the ru­mours we will ap­ply for the grid spot. I know Mo­togp have one free place and I spoke with Carmelo, but for us it is im­pos­si­ble – we are not able to en­ter Mo­togp and we are not in­ter­ested. Next year we will race in Moto2 with Sky − that is enough.”

With Rossi firmly out of the run­ning, pad­dock spec­u­la­tion is now sug­gest­ing that Sito Pons will in­stead re­turn to Mo­togp for the first time since he ran Alex Bar­ros and Troy Bayliss in 2005. Ru­moured to be keen on run­ning the first satel­lite Suzuki, the team’s for­mer Moto2 world cham­pion Pol Es­par­garo has been linked to the ride. A de­ci­sion will be made on who the spot is al­lo­cated to by the end of April.

Top Brit in Austin, Red­ding’s sea­son starts here Lone ranger Lorenzo stayed on his horse to wran­gle sec­ond place

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