Jorge Lorenzo is unlikely to try the experimental hand-operated rear brake during this weekend's final pre-season MotoGP test in Qatar.
Instead of the usual right-foot brake lever, the former double world champion was seen with a second lever on the left side of the handlebar (pictured) on his Movistar Yamaha.
The Spaniard, who had tried a thumb brake the previous year, explained that he was seeking alternatives due to losing some sensitivity and power when he broke both ankles in 2008. However the final verdict was that the foot lever is still a better option.
During an interview with Crash.net
Lorenzo's team manager Wilco Zeelenberg explained: “We tried a thumb brake last year and this year we tried a finger brake. There were two levers on the left side of the handlebar. The bigger one was the clutch lever, as normal, and the smaller one the rear brake lever.
“It's still difficult. The problem with both the thumb and finger brake is that because the riders hang off the bike so much now and because of the lean angles they have, they cannot press the brake with their hand. In the past the riders stayed more on the bike, so it was fine.”
Zeelenberg showed that when the rider's arm is stretched across the fuel tank, it is hard to operate a brake lever by hand. The Dutchman doubts it will be tried again in its present form, even if the potential benefits are clear.
“I don't see it happening. It was a good idea and it is interesting to try something new, but it's quite complicated. These bikes, as you can imagine, have a lot of performance and power in each gear. So they enter fast corners in second gear, but they also enter slow corners in second. So the bike behaviour is completely different.
“Sometimes you need a bit of rear brake to make the bike turn and if you could control it by hand that would be nice. But it is not easy [to do].”
But the other new technical feature for Lorenzo and team-mate Valentino Rossi, a gearbox with seamless downshifts as well as upshifts, was far more successful.
“The biggest advantage that we are searching for is stability under braking,” Zeelenberg said. “You can imagine if the bike is always hovering around during deceleration, you struggle to stop it and also it is difficult to be consistent.
“So when it is always moving the same you can improve the bike. When it is always moving differently it is difficult to find a way. Also we have the knowledge that the competitors are using it [seamless downshifts]. It takes development, but it looks like Yamaha have done a great job. It's helping in the way we wanted.”
In contrast to a year ago Lorenzo was on-form throughout the pair of Malaysian tests, finishing with the second fastest lap time behind Honda's world champion Marc Marquez.
Zeelenberg explained in depth the cause of last winter's problems, which actually began with Lorenzo's stunning fight back from double collarbone surgery during 2013. Exhausted by that effort, training changes magnified his early fitness issues for 2014 while the new Bridgestone tyres “took away the strongest point of Jorge as a rider”.
“We had to face the facts and the truth is that Jorge accepted what happened, but he didn't give up and at the end of last year he was already much fitter,” Zeelenberg said.
Lorenzo had banished his early season misery by scoring more points than any other rider during the second half of last season, including two wins. Post-season Lorenzo and Zeelenberg “talked about it” further, the Dutchman also visiting his rider's home in Barcelona.
“Jorge has now had a very strong winter,” Zeelenberg declared. “Resting, training and enjoying himself. The bike has improved and also we didn't have the same problems as last year with the heat-treated tyre. I see these two tests as very positive for Jorge.”
Indeed, Lorenzo set his fastest ever Sepang lap during the second test, while the rest of the top eight failed to match their best time from the first test. It's a good omen for a rider who has never dominated testing even prior to his title seasons and hasn't won at Sepang in the premier-class.
The priority now is good final test in Qatar this weekend and not to throw away points to the likes of Marquez in the early races.
“We have to be good everywhere, in all circumstances, during a very long and hard championships,” Zeelenberg said. “So it's very difficult to plan it, but for sure you need a good start and don't lose 50 points in the first five races like we did last year. That doesn't help!”
On Lorenzo's team-mate Valentino Rossi, runner-up to Marquez last season and fifth fastest at the final Sepang test, Zeelenberg stated: “Vale is not a rider who wants to take a big risk [in testing]. At the wrong moment. The race in Qatar is what counts and we also know he is always stronger in the race than practice.
“Vale is riding very well, concentrating and still wants to improve. That's important.”
CLICK HERE to read the full interview, which includes Zeelenberg's thoughts on Ducati continuing to receive Open class concessions and his concerns about the 2016 single ECU...