19 January 2008
Q&A: Daniele Romagnoli (Lorenzo`s team manager).
Due to Rossi's switch to Bridgestone tyres, which has resulted in the factory Yamaha pit being split in two this season, former overall team manager Davide Brivio will concentrate solely on Rossi's side of the garage in 2008, while Romagnoli has been put in charge of MotoGP rookie Lorenzo on the Michelin side of the pit...
Daniele, can you tell us something about Jorge's progress so far over the initial three tests that he has taken part in? Has it been better than you expected?
Jorge's improvement over just three tests has been remarkable. Initially we concentrated solely on his riding position, because Jorge was used to riding in a completely different position to what is needed on our M1, which is very different to a 250. However little by little we started to change the base set-up of the bike, working on the geometry, the suspension, a lot on the electronics and in particular reducing the engine braking a lot to suit him. Already at the first test in Valencia, Jorge gave a very good impression about how fast he was, as of course we knew from his race performances, and in Sepang we continued in the same rhythm. But the big surprise came at the Jerez test, where he constantly bettered his own time and succeeded in setting a best time, on race tyres, which was only a tenth of a second slower than Pedrosa, who was the fastest overall. The best point at Jerez came when he completed his first race simulation and was able to do the distance faster than the winner of the race, by quite a few seconds!
Can you identify his key strengths as a rider and the main areas he needs to focus on improving now that he is riding an 800cc four-stroke?
Jorge's best quality is his fluidity and the fact that he is a very 'clean' rider. This allows him to carry a high-speed in the fast corners and with an 800cc bike this is even more important. He has also demonstrated that he is very consistent and every time he goes onto the track he is showing a similar level of performance, which means his lap times vary only by a few tenths of a second. Of course he is still a novice in MotoGP and he needs to improve in the hard braking areas, where he needs time to find how he can brake later, but this is something normal coming from riding 250s, which are slower in a straight line. Likewise he needs time to become more accustomed to using the carbon brakes.
There have been quite a few changes within the team as a whole and also specifically on your side of the garage. Can you tell us how the team has adapted to these changes and how the 'new' team is getting on as a whole?
The changes that effect our team have not created any problems for us; it's clear that to obtain the maximum level and to have perfect harmony between our technicians and our mechanics it will be necessary to have a few more test sessions, but the new people that have joined were already well known and have great experience, having worked with other teams, and so they have amalgamated well into the rest of the team, including Valentino's group.
What are your specific tasks within the team, as team manager?
My specific role as team manager is to programme and coordinate in the best way all of the work that goes on at the track; everything necessary to make sure we're always present and able to react and deal with all requests and difficulties that arise. The mechanics and technicians must be able to carry out their exact tasks, concentrating solely on technical matters and leaving all the organisational matters to me and my fellow organisational staff. Moreover, one very important aspect if my job is to create a perfect working atmosphere in the garage for the rider; above all he must feel comfortable and be confident that the team is doing everything it can to make him fast and victorious. We have people in the team who come from all over the world, but the language spoken in the box is the 'language of racing'!
What do you see as being a realistic target for Jorge in his first year of MotoGP?
Naturally Jorge's first year in MotoGP will be dedicated, above all, to learning. To be constantly fast in all tracks it's necessary to have a remarkable understanding of the technical side of the bike and so the objective for this year is to prepare him as well as possible for the following season. Jorge has nothing to prove; he is already a double world champion in 250 and he's already shown us in the first tests that he will be fast. My wish is that we will have the occasion to see him on the podium in this first year.
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