Jorge Lorenzo to pose stronger challenge in Jerez

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Reigning MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo has been tipped to mount a much stronger challenge to Honda’s dominant early season form in his home race at Jerez this weekend.

Lorenzo’s factory Yamaha team boss Wilco Zeelenberg is confident the 2011 factory YZR-M1 will be a more competitive proposition in the Spanish Grand Prix after Casey Stoner took victory for Honda in the season’s opening race in Qatar.

Lorenzo put up a tremendous fight in Qatar earlier this month, despite an obvious horsepower disadvantage against the Honda RC212V, to finish second at the start of the defence of his crown.

Zeelenberg, who began working with Lorenzo at the start of 2010, told MCN that the triple world champion’s determined ride in Qatar had convinced him that beating Honda was not a thankless task.

Looking ahead to the Jerez race, which Lorenzo won a year ago with a dramatic late attack on compatriot Dani Pedrosa, Zeelenberg said: “Last year in Jerez we could see him slipstream on the straight, which is much shorter than in Qatar, and he was able to pass on the brakes in the first corner.

"Every track has its own character but it is obvious that our acceleration out of tight hairpins is not good enough and we’re trying to improve. It is very difficult to do something big and I don’t think we need to. We’re happy with the first race and the gap to Casey.

"We need to see what happens in Jerez where we think Jorge will be even more competitive. This is what counts and we know how difficult it is to improve the package.

"We knew last year since Brno that the Honda was improving and we worked on that and improved the bike. Jorge is never happy and he is pushing everybody to get better but what we don’t want is to lose the way.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt