THE FAB FOUR – AND DANI

Exclusive in­ter­views & in­sight: Rossi, Lorenzo, Mar­quez, Vi­nales... and Pe­drosa

Motorcycle News (UK) - - THIS WEEK - By Si­mon Patterson MCN MO­TOGP RE­PORTER

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

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