16 October 2015
Australia: Second fastest Lorenzo eying Rossi/Marquez challenge
Maintaining his incredible recent Friday record, Jorge Lorenzo believes Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez can challenge him for a race win on Sunday.
In the second half of 2015 it has become commonplace to see Jorge Lorenzo occupy one of the top two places on Friday afternoon, a run that he continued by setting the second fastest time in FP2 at Phillip Island.
Taking full advantage of a solid base setting in his Yamaha M1, Lorenzo led a blustery FP1 before lapping 0.05s off Marc Marquez's fastest time in the afternoon. He is yet to place outside the top two in any Friday session since the Sachsenring.
The Majorcan was pleased overall with the grip offered by Bridgestone's new asymmetric front tyre but pointed to the lack of traction with the rear as an area of concern.
Lorenzo also feels that his objective of winning the final three races will be far from straightforward, as both Marquez and Rossi demonstrated strong pace throughout Friday.
“Well, today has been a good day. The bike was good from the beginning. Also we tried a completely different setting. We made similar pace but with different feelings. Tomorrow we're going to try to make a better bike with the feeling we take today.
“The good thing is the front is good. It will not have the same graining as last year. It's harder on the side. The problem is the rear on this tarmac that two years later is much less grippy. Maybe it's too hard. Maybe this rear tyre was good two years ago but now it's a little bit too hard and it spins a little bit. The good thing is that the front is very good.
“For sure this anti-heat rear tyre without the edge is not the best for the grip. The pick up area in second and third gear there is a sudden spinning that is very aggressive that you cannot stop. You really need to work a lot on your riding to avoid this thing. You compare the lap times we made in 2013 with the ones now and there is a big difference. This is because of the tyres and also because the tarmac is losing a bit the new good grip.”
Responding to Rossi's earlier claim that he needs to beat Lorenzo in one of the final three races to claim his tenth world title, the number 99 maintained his team-mate has the potential to triumph not only in Australia, but Malaysia and Valencia.
Marquez, he added, can not be ruled out after ably demonstrating a strong pace in the afternoon.
“For sure he [Valentino] can win not only one but also three. He has the potential to be a competitor and the consistency in the race to be able to fight and win at least a few races. Last year he won here. We don't have to go very far to understand that. Obviously for him also it's not going to be easy to win the races, for anyone. Neither for Marquez, for me, for Valentino.
“Marc have a very similar pace as me, especially this afternoon. With the new tyre he was really fast but this is not a new thing because the Honda is very good with the new tyre. Also he have a good pace similar to mine and better than the rest. I expect him to be fast but maybe not too much because he can also finish in front of me. It will be interesting.”
FP2 saw both Movistar Yamahas circulate on track together until Lorenzo's crew signaled to show Rossi was behind. The Majorcan, 18 points behind Rossi in the championship, played down the incident, insisting the signal is shown when any potential challenger is lapping close behind.
“Also they show me before with Iannone the same,” he explained. “It was not a question of Rossi. Also with Dani, Marquez or Dovizioso, they are able to fight for the win so it's always important to not show your cards to your rivals. In this case Valentino was a few laps running so he was not stopping to try and follow me. It was not his strategy this time. In Motegi it probably was but not here.”
Asked to expand on the characteristics of the two different set-ups he used through the day, Lorenzo smiled before stating, “You want to know too much.”
However, pushed to explain the difference of using the winglets, which he used on Friday, as opposed to not, Lorenzo admitted he hasn't decided on whether to continue with the aerodynamic feature on Saturday.
“Maybe you have a little more front contact but also you lose speed [on the front straight]. It's difficult to understand the compromise, what is the best compromise.”
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