Lorenzo looks to M1 for elusive MotoGP victory in Losail
DOHA LAST year, just when the MotoGP season was about to start in Losail, there was question mark over Jorge Lorenzo’s fitness.
This year, it is the fitness of his YZR -M1 that is a subject of concern with the season due to get underway under 5.4 megawatts of light at the Losail International Circuit on Thursday.
The 23-year-old reigning world champion from Spain feels his bike is getting better but still needs some more developments to match rival Honda machines, which have dominated all the three preseason tests so far.
Despite not fully recovering from a broken thumb, Lorenzo had turned in an amazing performance and finished runner-up to senior teammate and Italian icon Valentino Rossi last season.
The Mallorcan continued to improve thereafter and went on to win the crown with record points in a season.
On the last day of testing in Losail on Monday, Lorenzo ended as the seventh fastest.
Lorenzo may not be fully satisfied with his bike but his class in the company of another young gun, Ben Spies from the US, cannot be ignored.
In his three starts, all from the front row, in the premier class in Losail, Lorenzo has always been on the podium, finishing second twice.
So he would certainly go all out to chase an elusive victory in Qatar this time around.
“The new season is here and I’m very proud to be able to start it with the number one.
Our bike has been better from the first test but there is still room for improvement,” commented Lorenzo in his release.
For Lorenzo, the 2010 title was quite special, which came after nine wins in 18 races.
He predicts a tougher contest this season, which is the last year of the 800cc era.
“Winning the world championship last year was a great achievement.
This, however, gives me no edge as everybody will start the same weekend with no points,” added the Spanish youngster.
“I’ve trained hard over the winter to be ready and I’m excited to start (the new season),” said Lorenzo enthusiastically.
His new teammate Spies has taken bigger steps ahead of the start of the season and after finishing third behind the leading Honda pair of Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa in the last test, the Rookie of the 2010 is feeling upbeat.
“It feels good to be here as part of the factory team.
We worked hard last year to get here.
I’ve got a great crew around me.
I’ve worked with most of them before in different teams so it’s almost like a reunion!,” said Spies.
“Everything has gone really smoothly in the tests.
I have to say that I’m more of a racer than tester so I’m pretty impatient now to get to it and see what I can do,” enthused the American, who finished sixth in the standings last year, racing for Monster Yamaha Tech 3. Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager Wilco Zeelenberg says that there is no pressure on Lorenzo to perform.
“Last year, he has started injured and was recovering from his broken thumb, so the pressure was not on him.
This year, other riders have been extremely fast during the winter tests, so to me it means again that he (Jorge) can start without pressure.” Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director Massimo Meregalli said they were finding it difficult to stay focused after the recent tragedies in Japan.
“Our thoughts and sympathies are with those in Japan following the recent terrible tragedy.” Talking about the opening round, he said, “This is very exciting moment for Yamaha Factory Racing as we’re starting the season at a special time, marking the 50th anniversary of Yamaha’s involvement in Grand Prix racing.
“We’ve two very strong riders, the reigning world champion and the 2010 Rookie of the year on board.
So we’ve the potential to do well.
I’m confident that come Sunday, everybody will perform to his best.
It’ll be a tough season but our expectations are high,” said Meregalli.