Jorge Lorenzo was thrilled after a stunning late surge secured him a historic first victory in the new 1000cc MotoGP world championship in Qatar last night.
The factory Yamaha rider pounced on Casey Stoner’s arm pump issue to power his YZR-M1 to a hard fought victory after he held off a relentless late challenge from Dani Pedrosa in a thrilling climax to the 22-lap race.
It had looked like the Spaniard would have to settle for second with Stoner looking comfortable with a lead of over 1.5s until he began fading with arm pump.
Lorenzo swept into the lead on lap 19 and he said: “This really was a perfect weekend. But in the middle of the race I didn’t think I was able to win. They key of this victory was my mentality because I never give up. I always keep pushing and always believing I could make it.
"Also Casey dropped a little bit his pace so I took profit of it. Dani was also very strong. Normally it was plus zero on my board every time so I was starting to get worried. When he overtook me I thought I must overtake him again very quickly.
"I thought if he overtakes Casey he can open up a gap. So I was a little clever to overtake him at this point and then four or five corners later I overtake Casey and I push to the limit, making a lot of slides and pushing a lot on braking.
"I won this race and for sure during all the weekend we were very confident, but I think during the warm-up Casey and Dani improved their bikes a lot and for us it was more difficult.”
The 2010 world champion said the new generation 1000s were fun but physical to ride and he added: “The rear tyre this year is completely different from last year. From lap three you are completely sideways. But the pace is not dropping a lot because you can brake later and later when the tank is getting less full.
"So finally the pace is more or less the same for the entire race. But you must be very careful, mainly in the entry of the corners, because the rear tyre locks a lot and if you are not smooth, you can have a big crash.
"It is fun to ride, because you are always sliding and trusting a lot the traction control, but it’s not so easy.”
For more coverage from the opening MotoGP race in Qatar and the Easter Monday BSB clash at Brands Hatch, see the April 11 issue of MCN.