Lorenzo boss: Misano front tyre choice worth a gamble

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Jorge Lorenzo’s factory Yamaha team boss Wilco Zeelenberg believes the Spaniard’s hard front tyre choice in Sunday’s Misano MotoGP race was a gamble worth taking.

Lorenzo, who had claimed three successive victories in Misano prior to last weekend, was the only rider in the field to select the hard compound front Bridgestone tyre for the 28-lap race.

Lorenzo had been fast and consistent on the hard front in FP4 and with the race held with an identical track temperature, the double MotoGP world champion was confident the hard choice was the best option.

But after leading in the early stages, Lorenzo was unable to match the speed of Movistar Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi, who stormed to his first win since the Assen round in Holland over a year ago.

Zeelenberg said Lorenzo had nothing to lose by racing the harder option front and he told MCN: “It was the front tyre he raced to win last year. The pace then was very good we had nothing to really lose, so we decided to run with the hard tyre.

"We are fourth in the championship, so we won’t gain or lose much. But he also felt good with it and he made the decision to race it and we hoped it would give us an advantage but it didn’t work out.

"Valentino rode a great rhythm and when they both tried the softer front, Valentino was faster than Jorge, so he deserved the victory more than us blaming the hard tyre. In Silverstone we had not used the harder tyre at all but raced it and it was spot on.

"In FP4 in Misano, after two laps when the tyre had come in he felt really strong but he obviously didn’t have the same feeling in the race. He felt some benefit on straight braking but he couldn’t turn very well.”

Bridgestone’s Masao Azuma gave his assessment of Lorenzo’s front tyre gamble in the Japanese factory’s traditional post race analysis.

Azuma said: “The front tyre is so important as the rider needs to feel confident with the front end of the bike to be fast; you can put up with some sliding and movement from the rear, but at the front you need to be 100% confident in the feel provided.

"So in the end, front tyre choice mainly comes down to the rider’s personal preference and what works best with their setup and in this case, only Jorge felt more comfortable with the hard compound front slick.

"There are many reasons why the medium compound was preferred over the hard front this year; change in machine character, the tarmac is another year older, and also the lack of set-up time in the dry, but in the end both the medium and hard compound front slicks were good race tyres.

"For Jorge, he set the third quickest lap of the race and was extremely consistent in his lap times which shows the hard compound front slick was still a good option this year.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt