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Title: Jorge Lorenzo “happy with the progress made” and in the top ten on final day of Phillip Island testing

Author: Myanna Wedes

Jorge Lorenzo finished the Phillip Island test feeling confident and good about his current state on board his Ducati machine.

Q: How is the Ducati on the track at Phillip Island? 

Jorge Lorenzo: Well the day started quite well and much closer than in Sepang. We have been improving run by run. The problem on day one was that the last one hour and half we did not have the third rear tyre performing the same as the two first ones and it was dangerous in the left corners so we decided to stop and not try to risk and push more than that to improve the lap time. That was the problem. I would say that we finished 1.1 to 1.2 from the fastest lap time. Anyway, we need to improve a little bit in some areas and tomorrow we have something to test. We need to adapt more to what the bike demands.

Jorge Lorenzo spoke to the media on day one with some interesting comments.

Q: You were riding the normal GP17 and the evolution version of it. Do you already have a favourite one? 

Jorge Lorenzo: Yes. The new one looks a little bit better in some areas but it is not a huge difference for the moment.

Q: You used three rear tyres. Michelin have provided some new ones and there are also the ones from the race. Which ones did you use?

Jorge Lorenzo: We used the old soft rear because our bike is working with this one and we also try the front in some runs. Not so much a big difference. We did not try the new tyres.

Q: How was the first run compared to Valencia and Sepang?

Jorge Lorenzo: The first run again was difficult because after two weeks, I forget a little bit after being in Thailand and Sepang. I was quite close from the fastest one-maybe half a second to six tenths. The problem was when the last two hours we had tyre problems with the new rear. It was not performing the same as the other ones. I almost crashed in to turn three. It was risky. We could not improve like the others did. It is better than the first day in Sepang.

Q: This is the third track you have tested the Ducati, do you have a more clearer idea of what you can expect for the first season with the Desmo?

Jorge Lorenzo: No. I still do not arrive to my top level of performance for this bike at the moment. First, we need to improve the bike and I need to get to my limit with this bike.

Q: Which area of your riding are you working on the most for this bike?

Jorge Lorenzo: Mostly everything. Braking… I need to understand the way to stop the bike still even if I start much better than the Sepang test. Mainly everything: with the throttle, changing direction in fast corners and improving to understand where I can get the most from the bike.

Q: What about corner exit, the Ducati has a strong engine to maximise the acceleration?

Jorge Lorenzo: Of course we are the fastest one on the main straight but this is only one straight. There are little straights. Today with the wind, it has not been easy. To be honest, the front was moving a lot and this for sure did not help to be faster. You know, finally with new tyres, we are much faster. The limit of the bike is much more forward and we need to find how to do at least the same.

Q: Jorge, what is your confidence like coming in to turn one on the Ducati with such a big speed and power?

Jorge Lorenzo: Probably with the winds it will be much easier but the front it is moving and shaking quite a bit before braking. So we need to try with the setting to improve this feeling because it is not very comfortable before braking at 340km/h. It would be better to feel lighter and have more stability in the front. Lets see if with another setting we can improve this feeling.

It appears that the lack of winglets was felt more in Phillip Island than Sepang due to the change in weather conditions. The wind was causing grief for many riders and this is an ongoing issue as the winglets did provide more support for the bike turning and stability in 2016. There is a loss of down force, which Yamaha, Suzuki and Aprilia have attempted to fix by bringing in new fairings and internal winglets. The area where it is felt the most is when the Ducati is turning. Lorenzo is aiming to be faster in the corners and ensure that his confidence grows by spending more time with his red beast.

Lorenzo’s comments to the media on day one: “The tests here at Phillip Island have begun a lot better than in Sepang, and today we used the same base set-up that we had established at the end of the test in Malaysia. It was a shame that during the last one and a half hours we were unable to improve our lap times while other riders did. We struggled to lower our times because of the strong wind and in addition the last rear tyre we fitted didn’t have the same sort of performance that we had expected. In any case it’s positive the fact that every day we are accumulating new information and that we are always making small steps forward.”

On the final day of testing Jorge Lorenzo jumped forward with a smile! Progress was made whilst he compared his performance to Andrea Dovizioso and Alvaro Bautista.

Q: Andrea Dovizioso sounded quite disappointed that the bike has not improved as much as he was hoping in the turning. Do you feel the same way?

Jorge Lorenzo: Well he arrived obviously faster to his limit with his bike on the first day and I take my time. I do feel much more improvement. We are working in different areas, different needs and today more than the bike we improved more understanding to get closer to the maximum on this track and with this bike. I did it. As I have said before, my goal was to stay in the 1’29 medium and do a lot of laps. We did this on ten laps. The other laps were in the 1’30 low. It is good. Obviously here we are not at the level to fight for the win but we can be in this position at other tracks so we keep working to make the bike more competitive on the track and stronger with the tyres. We are also waiting for another track.

Q: Jorge, you said yesterday that you needed to improve your riding style with the corner speeds/entry/exit; did you feel as though you made progress in all of these areas?

Jorge Lorenzo: It is very difficult for me because they are completely different bikes. They are the opposite way when it comes to riding and to get the maximum. Ducati for the moment does not have corner speed and we need to keep braking a lot of time. You need to be aggressive with the throttle on and off. Secondly, it is completely different riding. Little by little I am understanding this bike more and on the last day it was much better. I need more time and kilometers to get to the maximum.

Lorenzo’s comments to the media on day three: “It was a pity that we were not able to use the soft tyre this morning, when the track conditions were ideal, because I think I could have got my time down by another three-tenths. But, as I said, for me at this moment the times are not as important as the feeling on the bike and understanding the most efficient way to ride it.”

“In any case, all things considered, I think that we finished this test in quite a positive way.”

Lorenzo wants to win with Ducati and is working very hard to achieve this goal as a team and unit. He has the passion and dedication to do so and is already performing at a stronger level than what people thought was possible. He is taking the time that is required to learn everything there is to know about his Ducati. In terms of the winglets debate and aerodynamics, anything can happen between now and round one at Qatar. It will be a wait and see as to what the Ducati is made up of from a technical standpoint.

Andrea Dovizioso also added to the Ducati conclusions of testing on the last day by expressing his opinions and feelings about the team’s progress at Phillip Island.

Q: After the three days of testing, what is your feeling?

Andrea Dovizioso: Like I said before it depends on which way you want to see the test because if you look at the test in comparison to last year, we are in a much better situation. I was competitive in Malaysia and competitive here and this is one of my worst tracks so I am happy about this. I am happy about my situation and working with the team. I have improved a little bit from last year and we are quite fast but on another side we did not improve enough the negative points. I am not happy about if I look at the Championship and being competitive at every track. We did a great job but it is not enough.

Q: What are you expecting the engineers to bring to Qatar? 

Andrea Dovizioso: Qatar is difficult to add new material. It is not possible to put something in two weeks. We have to understand what we have to do in order to improve the turning.

Q: The two bikes here Andrea, are they vastly different or are they smaller differences between the two?

Andrea Dovizioso: The differences are not big. We improved a little bit but we did not unfortunately perfect the turning.

Q: Is there a bike you prefer of those two? 

Andrea Dovizoso: The new one is better.

Q: How close do you think you can get to be where you want to be? 

Andrea Dovizioso: It is not about the speed. It is about the easy way to turn because when you are in the race, the grip is less for everybody and the turning makes a big impact. We can be very strong in many areas but if the turning is worse than compared to the other competitors, then we are now the bikes and riders difficult to stay with them. If we touch that point, everything can change.

Q: So you were doing some long runs, simulation, did the turning get difficult after some laps?

Andrea Dovizioso: Yes it becomes worse when the tyre drops but also on the last lap I was following Vinales and Rins, which can make the turning difficult.

So there you have it, the Ducati team riders still want more from their bikes and team and the journey to round one is already heating up! The next test at Qatar will be an important one for the Ducati team as they prepare for 2017 with a World Championship goal that could become true if they solve the problems facing Lorenzo and Dovizioso.

Credit: Deborah Wedes

Credit: Deborah Wedes

Credit: Deborah Wedes

Credit: Deborah Wedes

Credit: Deborah Wedes

Credit: Deborah Wedes

About The Author

Myanna Wedes

Myanna has an incredible grasp and knowledge of the sport in detail and continues to secure lead stories every week. She is in constant contact with team and rider media management. She is an admitted lawyer with two degrees and is currently writing a biography on Alan Jones MBE 1980 F1 World Champion. She is a fond lover of two wheel motorsport, predominantly MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3.