Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - SI­MON PAT­TER­SON MO­TOGP REPORTER IN SEPANG si­mon.pat­ter­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­

Jorge Lorenzo may have fin­ished a lowly 10th fastest in the three-day test in Sepang, but the 29-year-old Spa­niard re­mains con­fi­dent that he can win races in 2017. Prac­ti­cally writ­ten off at the end of the open­ing day af­ter lan­guish­ing down in 17th, Lorenzo made clear progress al­though ad­mits there is still a long way to go to get him­self and his Du­cati up to speed fol­low­ing years of rac­ing at the very front for Yamaha.

“I think at this mo­ment with­out any of the mod­i­fi­ca­tions we’ll have in the fu­ture, we can win races. I don’t know about the cham­pi­onship yet, but we can win races. To win we need to im­prove the bike, the re­sults will come.”

But while the Spa­niard ad­mit­ted that the open­ing day caused him some worry, he re­mains upbeat. Con­cen­trat­ing not on his cur­rent pace but on the bike’s fu­ture po­ten­tial.

“The first night was hard, be­cause I’m too used to al­ways be­ing com­pet­i­tive and fast! I don’t re­mem­ber be­ing so far from the top, and it showed how much I had to change my rid­ing style. That’s what hap­pens when you change to a com­pli­cated bike like the Du­cati though!

“It’s a ques­tion of time. It was a big shock on the first day, and I did think that maybe I needed more time than I had re­alised – but even in two days I saw a big im­prove­ment. Maybe we’re still very far from our limit, but that’s a good thing, be­cause we’re al­ready fast – and it means that when we get to our limit we’ll be very, very fast!”

With sub­stan­tial changes needed to his rid­ing style – es­pe­cially when it comes to brak­ing, cor­ner en­try and mid-turn speed, Lorenzo has a lot of work to do per­son­ally. And that has been made even more dif­fi­cult by the loss of a key ally, his rid­ing coach and for­mer Grand Prix win­ner Wilco Zee­len­berg, who elected to re­main at Yamaha.

But de­spite the loss, Lorenzo has al­ready found a key ally within the Du­cati camp to help fill the role – test rider Michele Pirro.

“Wilco is amaz­ing as a per­son and I be­came world cham­pion thanks to him. But I’ve been very sur­prised with Michele. We de­cided to use him as a track an­a­lyst be­cause he rides the same bike as me, with com­pet­i­tive lap times, and knows ex­actly what you have to do. He’s been on it four or five years, and at the start he felt like me as he prefers to have cor­ner speed.

“In Va­len­cia, there are less hair­pins and less brak­ing, so I was more com­pet­i­tive with my nor­mal rid­ing style. In Sepang, I needed to change my rid­ing style a lot and he’s given me ad­vice.”

Cor­ner exit isn’t an is­sue for Lorenzo, but brak­ing and mid-turn is

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