Jorge Lorenzo has admitted that he’s still far away from being ready to win races on the Ducati GP17 machine, after a difficult test for the Spaniard at one of the tracks most unsuited to the red bikes last week.
Finishing the three days at Phillip Island in eighth, nearly a second off the times of Maverick Viñales, the five-time world champion conceded afterwards that his hopes of taking victory at the opening round of the series in Qatar next month are quickly diminishing.
A track where both bike and rider have gone very well in the past, Lorenzo was targeting the Middle Eastern circuit as one of the few this year where taking race wins would be possible – but with much still left to do, that’s now looking in doubt.
“We have very little time, just three more days before the Qatar race. We couldn’t test the 2017 bike in Valencia, which didn’t help. But that’s the situation that we have, and we have to do the maximum with what we have.
“I don’t have enough experience to know if that prevents me from getting on the throttle on the exits of corners, because I can only compare it to last year’s. For the moment the engineers know what I feel, though, and we have to try and improve and go forwards.”
His problems were compounded during the test by the ultra-fast corners of the Australian circuit and the still-limited corner speed potential of his new bike. Consistently maintaining his high corner speed 250GP style through nine seasons at Yamaha – and playing a key role in developing the M1 to suit him – he’s still struggling to adapt his riding style to the much-different approach needed on the Ducati.
“It’s very difficult for me, because they’re completely different bikes – they have the opposite way of riding, the opposite way to take the maximum. For now, the Ducati doesn’t have corner speed, so you have to brake for longer and be more aggressive with the throttle, more on and off. It’s totally different, but little by little I’m understanding it, but I still need more time and more kilometres.
“Something still isn’t right, and we haven’t discovered something that will allow me to be faster both in the corners and getting on the throttle. We don’t have the bike to best carry the corner speed, but Bautista is faster than me through most corners, so we have to understand why that is.
“We’re not at the level at Phillip Island to fight for the win. We can be at other tracks, and we have to keep working to make the bike more competitive at them. We’re waiting for those tracks.”