Jorge Lorenzo starts his second MotoGP season at Qatar this weekend 'more experienced and much stronger' than one year ago.
That's a worrying claim for his rivals, given that Lorenzo took three poles, three podiums and one win from his first three MotoGP races last season.
The middle part of the year saw Lorenzo suffer a series of spectacular crashes and injuries, but he recovered form in the latter stages and secured the rookie of the year title with fourth in the standings.
Unfortunately, Lorenzo was one of only two factory riders (the other being Nicky Hayden) to finish last season on Michelin tyres, forcing a winter of acclimatising to the new single-tyre Bridgestones.
Despite a few frustrating moments, Lorenzo claimed the second fastest lap time, behind Casey Stoner, at the Qatar test and was fourth at the final pre-season outing in Jerez.
“I am feeling good and I'm eager to start the championship,” said the 21-year-old Fiat Yamaha rider. “Pre-season has been hard work, but finally I understood how to be fast with the new Bridgestone tyres and the last day in Qatar and the test in Jerez have left me feeling confident and hopeful for a good start to the season. The tyres are very different and I have had to adapt my riding style, but step-by-step we have become accustomed to them.
“For qualifying it's a bit of a pity because I was a rider that was always strong on qualifying tyres, but it's the same for everyone so we will get used to it. I feel much more experienced than this time last year and much stronger as well, even if I was on pole for this race last year!
“My target for the season is to improve on my fourth position of last year; I want to make sure I improve year by year,” the Spaniard conformed.”The championship is too big to think about yet, for now I am just concentrating on Qatar. I also have a new number, 99, which I think looks good on my M1 and I hope that it will bring me luck!”
“Qatar is a friendly track for us after Jorge's great debut there last year both in qualifying and in the race. I think if we could repeat that then it would be perfect!” stated team manager Daniele Romagnoli. “It's the first time we're racing with the new tyre rule and we're definitely going to need to optimise tyre use especially for qualifying, but it's not a big problem because as I said we already have a good base. The team is excited to be starting again and now we're just waiting for Friday afternoon to get to work!”