Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa both admitted that their primary focus for tomorrow’s US MotoGP round at Laguna Seca is to avoid crashing to collect as many vital world championship points as possible.
Factory Yamaha rider Lorenzo was an impressive sixth quickest in practice yesterday and only 0.427s off the best pace on his surprise return from injury.
Lorenzo emerged in California from a nightmare two-week spell that saw him break his left collarbone twice in the space of 15 days in Assen and the Sachsenring.
Two big operations later and the reigning MotoGP world champion, who had initially ruled himself out of competing at Laguna Seca, was back on track to try and ensure he didn’t lose too much ground in the title hunt.
Lorenzo is 11-points behind Repsol Honda rival Marc Marquez and despite many of his rivals predicting he will be a podium threat tomorrow, the Spaniard says a top three is unrealistic.
Lorenzo is struggling mainly in the hard braking sections at the tight and technical Laguna Seca track, particularly at the first and last corner and the world famous Corkscrew.
All three are hard braking points from high-speed into left hand turns that place extra stress on Lorenzo’s fragile shoulder, which now has a titanium plate and 10 screws in it after his Sachsenring high-side eight days ago.
Lorenzo told MCN: “I expected less pain on the bike because in Assen and Sachsenring I didn't feel so much pain. I was almost perfect or at least at 90% and I hoped to be better. In the braking I am struggling so much, especially at the first corner, the Corkscrew and the last corner. I have to use a lot of power in my legs and use the right side of my body as much as possible to minimise the power of the left.”
Lorenzo reckons he is only riding at 70 to 75% of his normal strength but when asked what his target for the race is, the double MotoGP world champion added: “The first target is not to crash and to feel better than I am now and not worse. Obviously I am here to get as many points as possible and to be realistic we are not in the condition to fight for the podium in normal conditions. Maybe a realistic place will be fifth to seventh.”
Lorenzo won the battle of the busted collarbones in yesterday’s opening practice, with Pedrosa struggling down in 11th position.
The luckless Spaniard lost the lead in the world championship a week ago when he fractured his left collarbone in a practice spill in Germany.
Pedrosa opted to sit out a cold and cloudy FP1 to conserve energy and in FP2 a best lap of 1.23.129 left him 1.089s behind teammate Marquez.
Pedrosa’s ambitions for the race are the same as Lorenzo's, as he seeks not to surrender too many points to Marquez, who won his second premier class race in Germany.
Pedrosa said: “I had a little bit of pain but I did some laps to get a feeling on the bike and this was important to see if I was able to ride. I am just trying to save some energy and try to recover for tomorrow. The target is to make the full race but I am not sure what pace I can be on or what my result can be but I will just try and be there on Sunday and do the full race. Obviously I can’t crash. I just need to try and take some points and get this race done, get some rest in the summer and be back strong for the second half of the season.”
For coverage of the Laguna Seca MotoGP round, see the July 24 issue of Motor Cycle News.