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Lorenzo's targets: Title top three, double wins
1 January 1901
Jorge Lorenzo's Fiat Yamaha team manager Daniele Romagnoli is hoping that the 2008 MotoGP rookie of the year can improve on his title ranking by one place during his second season in the premier class - and double his race wins.
Lorenzo made a stunning start to his MotoGP career with three poles, three podiums and one win from his first three races - before a huge highside next time out at Shanghai marked the start of a torrid run of injuries.
Once his physical condition had improved, and after more than a little soul searching, the young Spaniard returned to form towards the end of the year and secured fourth in the final standings with six podium finishes.
“The first thing we need to do is to reconfirm the performance of last year, at least, but of course we really want to improve,” said Romagnoli, during an exclusive interview with
. “To be one position better in the championship this year would be really great.”
Some might see a one place rise as a relatively safe target, but to achieve it Lorenzo will need to dislodge either reigning MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi, 2007 world champion Casey Stoner or six time premier-class race winner Dani Pedrosa.
Romagnoli also has two other goals on his 2009 wish list: “Last year we won one race and I would like to win two races if possible this year and be more consistent for the whole season.”
Lorenzo made his debut on the full 2009 YZR-M1 during the first official test at Sepang last week. The double 250cc world champion was only tenth during the first two days, and admitted he wasn't sure how to lower his lap time further, but made encouraging progress to sit seventh - 0.8sec from fastest man Stoner - on the third and final day.
“I am happy because the bike looks good; Valentino [2nd] and Colin [4th] are doing very good lap times so we are thinking positively. We just need to be patient and have more time on the track,” explained Romagnoli. “What is important during winter testing is to find a good base set-up so you can start the first part of the season with a reference; this is what we are looking for.
“The bike doesn't have any big differences compared with last year,” he continued. “Last year's bike was a winning bike so we didn't need to radically change anything. We just needed to have a wider range of adjustment for the chassis as sometimes last year there was some limitation in this area. Regarding the engine, there is also no big difference. There are some small improvements and our main goal was to improve the acceleration.”
The biggest difference in terms of Lorenzo's technical package is the switch from Michelin to Bridgestone tyres. Lorenzo was the top full-time Michelin rider in the 2008 world championship, but will have to adapt to the Japanese tyres for the first season of one-make racing.
“From the first test everybody was a little bit worried that we would encounter difficulties in switching from Michelin to Bridgestone,” admitted Romagnoli. “But actually we have never had any big troubles and Jorge is happy about the tyre performance. There is a different character - Jorge can brake a little bit deeper - but, basically the Bridgestone guys are going a great job and there is no problem.”
And how different is the 2009 Jorge Lorenzo from the rider testing at Sepang one year ago?
“Jorge has got one year of very important experience. He has grown up quite a lot. He is more responsible. He is thinking more when he rides the bike and isn't pushing over the limit as he was doing early in the season last year,” replied Romagnoli.
The next MotoGP test will take place at Qatar from March 1-3.
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