TECH SECRETS EXPLAINED
HIDDEN WINGS + DUCATI’S BOX OF TRICKS
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