Jorge Lorenzo’s factory Yamaha boss Wilco Zeelenberg believes the first five races of 2013 are going to be pivotal to understand who the main contenders will be for this year’s MotoGP world championship.
Lorenzo made the perfect start to the defence of his world title in Qatar last weekend when he dominated the season opening clash at the Losail International Circuit.
Lorenzo led home a brilliant Yamaha 1-2 with Valentino Rossi charging through from seventh on the grid to cap a dream return to the Japanese factory.
Zeelenberg said Lorenzo’s emphatic floodlit win in Doha was a real statement of intent from the double world champion, who claimed the 2012 crown with six victories.
Zeelenberg told MCN: “It is important to be very strong at the first five races and this was a good start.
"At Austin we have to be on the podium again and then after five races we will see which riders have made a mistake or not and see if the pack is still together.
"We have a five-point lead over Valentino and that is nothing in the end. Qatar was a statement from the world champion but it is only the first round.
"The Honda's struggled a little all weekend and I think they decided to bring it home without doing something stupid.
"Austin is coming up so we need to try and keep this pace and to fight because it will not be easy there.”
Key to Lorenzo’s flying start in 2013 was working on a set-up that helped rear tyre life on his factory YZR-M1 machine, which had been an issue in the face of a HRC onslaught in the second half of last season when Dani Pedrosa won six out of the last eight races.
Zeelenberg added: “The way we tested the bike over the weekend because we had used the race set-up with a full tank all of the time helped us a lot. And we made some good decisions after the warm-up and he felt really good on the bike. What we gained was a very consistent bike.
"Last year at the end of races we had some tyre problems and that was a focus this season and looking at this race we succeeded at that. He did a 56.0 at the end and he had a 7.5s lead, so he had some more in his pocket it if he needed it."