THE FAB FOUR – AND DANI
Exclusive interviews & insight: Rossi, Lorenzo, Marquez, Vinales... and Pedrosa
Can Lorenzo really succeed where Rossi so spectacularly failed – at Ducati?
If the early signs are anything to go by… he just could. After a very successful test first time out at Valencia only days after winning the final race of the 2016 season in style, he’s gone into the winter break comfortable and confident that he’s made the right decision.
And while he’s banned from speaking about just how good the GP17 he spent two days on at the Spanish circuit is, he admitted to MCN at the opening of his new Andorran bar and museum that he’s delighted with his first impressions.
“I cannot speak too much about the bike, but what I can say is that I’m very motivated and very happy. When I tried the bike, it put a big smile on my face, and that’s very important.
“Of course we have a lot of work to do. We’re fighting against amazing and talented riders, maybe even more than ever, and they have great bikes. But we have our strong points too, and we have to take advantage of them and to improve little by little the weak points.
Work in progress
“For sure the bike has some weak points, but every bike does, and we just have to work on them. I feel ready to put all my experience into that now, and to use my experience to improve the bike quite a bit. Some aspects were great, and some others need to be improved.”
But while he’s confident in the potential of his new bike, Lorenzo isn’t under any illusions that it’s going to be plain sailing. Said to be pleasantly surprised with the corner speed and handling of the Ducati (always considered the weak point of the bike), he’s nonetheless prepared for a hard year ahead.
“The champion is always the favourite, so it must be Marc. But I think it’s going to be close, with Maverick on the Yamaha, Valentino will be there too, and Iannone can be fast on the Suzuki. It’ll be the same as this year – a lot of good riders on good bikes, with the potential to try to win races. The world title will be between three or four riders, and for sure it’ll be very interesting!
Consistency is key
“I want to believe that I can be one of those riders – from the first race, I’d like to think that I’ll be able to fight for the win and maybe the title.”
After a difficult 2016 that saw him struggle in wet conditions, the 29-yearold is better prepared this time around. Conceding that his own errors cost him the chance to take another title, he says he’s learned from the experience.
“Last season was inconsistent; that’s the main way to describe it and when you’re like that it’s very hard to win the title in Motogp. I made so many mistakes, so many bad results in wet conditions. In the end, I was the one with the most points in the dry, but I was so far from Marquez because he only crashed in Le Mans. He stayed on the bike and got the results. We had the same number of podiums, but he finished more races.
“Of course if I knew I was going to crash, I wouldn’t have crashed as much – but you never know. That’s the main thing to remember next year – to remember not to crash. In Argentina, and in Japan, if I had been more patient and not pushed so much, I wouldn’t have crashed, and those little details define the result of the championship.
“And I think the goal of Michelin is to give the riders the best grip without compromising the safety of the riders, and I believe that next year they’ll find a better compromise there. There is a lot of potential, and they’re willing to improve, which is very important.”
There’s been one positive already from Lorenzo’s switch from Yamaha to Ducati – an improvement to the troubled relationship between him and former team-mate Valentino Rossi.
Bitter rivals throughout their time at Yamaha both on and off the track, Lorenzo says that he believes a shared moment of respect between the pair after the final race at Valencia has paved the way for things to become more cordial in the future.
“When you have two cocks on the same farm it’s difficult – that’s always the way it is. The same was true at Repsol with Doohan and Criville, or in Formula One with Senna and Prost – it’s always hard, because you want to beat the guy with the same bike or the same car. It’s difficult to be friends with a rider you want to destroy. Finally, now, Rossi and I will still compete in the same category but with a different bike, and that makes a big difference.”
‘When you have two cocks on the same farm it’s difficult’
Unofficially, Lorenzo is said to be very happy with the Ducati Jorge has had some memorable helmet designs over the years