Jorge Lorenzo believes he would have a better chance of winning back the premier class crown on Aleix Espargaro’s Open-spec Yamaha YZR-M1.
Lorenzo is adamant that the Forward Racing YZR-M1, which can utilise four more litres of fuel and extra soft Bridgestone tyres, would be more of a title threat than his factory prototype machine.
Forward Racing rider Espargaro has been the big revelation of winter testing and in three pre-season outings he didn’t finish outside of the top four on the Open-spec Yamaha.
At the second Sepang test in Malaysia last month he outpaced Lorenzo and then topped the timesheets in a non-factory team night test at Qatar recently.
It has been those eye-catching performances that prompted Lorenzo to request a test on the Open-spec YZR-M1, which Yamaha management point-blank refused.
Lorenzo believes the extra four litres of fuel and softer tyres that are allowed in the Open category to help balance performance between the factory prototypes gives them a significant advantage.
But Lorenzo’s pleas to evaluate the Open class Yamaha that fellow Spaniard Espargaro and Colin Edwards will race fell on deaf ears.
Yamaha’s official factory squad will continue to race under Factory rules in unison with Japanese rivals Honda, which limits fuel tank capacity to 20 litres. There’s also a limit of five engines per season with zero in-season development and Lorenzo doesn’t have access to the range of soft rubber from Bridgestone.
In an exclusive interview with MCN ahead of this weekend’s season opener in Qatar on Sunday night, Lorenzo said: “I wanted to do it (test Open-spec YZR-M1) but Yamaha didn't allow me to try because they are clear they want to race with the factory bike. If they are going to race with factory bike then there is no meaning to try the Open class. I think the Open class at the moment has more potential but I am a Yamaha rider and I ride with the bike they decide and I give my 100% with that decision. We had a meeting about this and Yamaha decided to go Factory.”
Lorenzo believes the key advantage of the Open class is the extra soft Bridgestone rear tyre, though it is unclear at precisely how many races that would be a viable option for the race in terms of endurance.
For the full story see today’s (March 19) issue of Motor Cycle News.