Jorge Lorenzo’s boss reflects on triumphant 2012
Jorge Lorenzo and Yamaha’s pre-season preparations were pivotal in helping the Spaniard capture a second MotoGP world title in 2012.
That's the view of Lorenzo's factory Yamaha team boss Wilco Zeelenberg after he wrapped up a second premier class world crown at the end of October.
Lorenzo made a blistering start to the inaugural 1000cc campaign by winning four out of the opening six races while Honda rivals Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa struggled with chatter generated by a new generation softer compound Bridgestone rear tyre.
The early season charge in which Lorenzo dropped only 10 out of the first 150 points available was vital and o Zeelenberg believes it was all down to thorough pre-season preparation work.
He told MCN: “Jorge was very consistent but the key point was Yamaha's and Jorge's pre-season preparation.
"At the first test this year in Sepang we were very competitive. Jorge did many laps and was the only rider to do a race simulation at the second Sepang test. No one else did that.
"It was very hot and he was pushing us to do it and that made a big difference for us in the opening races of the season. Jorge was the only rider really riding fit for the first race.
"Casey had arm pump problems and I think that is why he lost that first race in Qatar, while Jorge was very strong at the end of the race. That was an important moment. From that point on for the first three or four races we had some advantage because of that.”
Lorenzo was accused by some of not attacking enough in the second half of the season as the wins dried up in the face of a fresh onslaught from HRC and in particular Pedrosa.
Zeelenberg though refutes the suggestion that Lorenzo merely rode to protect his championship advantage rather than throw more caution to the wind to attack for his second title.
He added: “Jorge cleverly managed the championship but also Dani and Honda improved a lot later in the season. They were very consistent and they gained time on us when the tyres were used.
"Jorge was attacking the corners to make the lap time and Dani was clearly able to accelerate away on the straight and that makes it easier than attacking. Jorge did not play it safe but he did not have more margin to push because a crash would have been the result.
"To finish races in second place and not take too big a risk was the biggest strategy. Of course Jorge would like to win but finally as we saw in Valencia, if there is no margin the risk of crashing is very big.
"If you make a crash in the first or second race you can recover but if you crash at the end of the season you cannot recover it, so that is a huge difference."
After he won the title with a second place in Phillip Island after Pedrosa had crashed out in the early stages of the Australian round, Lorenzo said winning his second world title was much more mentally draining than his first success in 2010.
Zeelenberg said that was the case largely because of the Assen incident when compatriot Alvaro Bautista wiped out Lorenzo at the first corner.
Lorenzo saw a hard earned 25-point lead wiped out in a split second and Zeelenberg added: “Mentally it was very tough and especially because of that crash in Assen. That cost him a lot of points.
"We had a 25-point lead and that is a lot and then suddenly it was back to zero. And to get that 25 points had already cost him a lot of energy in those first five or six races when he was very strong and focussed.
"Mentally to go back to zero when your competitors are improving is difficult. I think that is what he meant when he said it was much tougher to win this year than in 2010.”