Jorge Lorenzo has come away from his third weekend of action on Ducati machinery ever more confident that he’s edging closer to a return to podium success, after showing potential at last weekend’s American Grand Prix even if he was unable to capitalise on it in the race.
The five-time world champion took his best ever qualifying position of sixth for the Italian firm in Sunday’s race and looked set to be on for a matching result until problems with tyre life cost him the chance to challenge teammate Andrea Dovizioso and left him coming across the line in ninth.
“Until I had front tyre problems I was closing down on Dovi, and my position if I did not have graining on the front tyre would have been seventh behind him. But the graining on the right side of the tyre was probably a bit less than the rest of my competitors, and I had to slow down.
“Then Iannone caught me, made an aggressive pass on me, and I had to run wide at turn one, which cost me another two seconds that let Petrucci catch me and pass me too. But I’m happy, because we gained two seconds of pace in the weekend and eventually finished only 18 seconds behind the winner. That would have been ten or twelve, which is very positive.”
But while Lorenzo will admit that their current performances are still far from where he believes they should be, there’s also light at the end of the tunnel for him. With the series returning to Europe in only a few weeks’ time, he believes that the familiar tracks there will help propel him back to where he’s used to being.
“We need to be fighting for the championship, but for the moment this is not possible. But we’re much closer to the other Ducatis and to the other competitors. Jerez will be difficult because it’s one of the worst tracks for Ducati, historically, but you can never be certain of anything in MotoGP and it’s one of my favourites!
“We’re progressing very quickly, and Le Mans could be a good one. It’s one of my favourites and it’s a good track for Ducati too, and I’ll be going there with a free mind!”