Jorge Lorenzo’s factory Yamaha boss Wilco Zeelenberg said it was vital that the Spaniard pounced on Casey Stoner’s arm pump issue to claim a historic first 1000cc win in Qatar last weekend.
Aussie Stoner controlled the race up until the final laps when he faded with a right arm pump issue to third position.
The first win of the 1000cc era went to Lorenzo after he held off a determined challenge from Stoner’s Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa in the final stages.
Zeelenberg said Lorenzo’s first win since the Misano round in Italy last September was just reward for his battling qualities and determination never to accept defeat.
Stoner led by almost two seconds at one stage of the race but Lorenzo continued a relentless pursuit of the double MotoGP world champion and Zeelenberg told MCN: “Those three guys will be together for the whole season but mentally he is one the toughest guys and if the package is competitive then he doesn’t give up. He will stick on their ass for as long as it takes and he did that to Casey.
"We saw again in Qatar what we’ve seen a few times before in the fact that he never gives up and that is one of his strongest points. We talked at the start of the weekend about how important it was to get the season off to a good start. We spoke about how if we had the chance to win the race we had to go for it and not just settle for second.
"We knew Casey is very fast in Qatar and it is more of a Honda track with the long straight. But when you start winning it changes things a little bit even though second would not have been too bad.”
Zeelenberg said the switch to 1000cc had also helped inject fresh impetus into Lorenzo’s challenge after Stoner and Honda frequently outgunned him in 2011.
The performance gap between Yamaha’s new 1000cc YZR-M1 and Stoner’s Honda RC213V appears less than in the final 800cc campaign when Stoner won 10 races to Lorenzo's three.
Zeelenberg added: “He loves to ride this bike and it is much more competitive than last year. Last year we struggled a lot and it didn’t matter what we did to the bike we always had the same result. But with this bike we have more margin and he enjoys riding it.”