MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo says the premier class is in the midst of one of the best moments in its history on the eve of the opening practice session for this weekend's Qatar night race at the Losail International Circuit.
Following the introduction of Michelin as the new sole tyre supplier this year and a control ECU, the Mallorcan expects more riders and teams to be involved at the sharp end, creating the potential for one of the most competitive seasons ever.
“It is difficult to compare year and moments because I have stayed in MotoGP in the last eight years, but for me in terms of the concentration, focus, levels of riding and physical condition, it is one of the best moments in the history of MotoGP, I believe,” said the Movistar Yamaha rider at the official Qatar press conference on Wednesday.
“Before, you had another aspect to make a difference with the electronics, but now with everyone having the same electronics you eliminate that aspect. We saw last year that the competition is getting closer and with this new rule it benefits equality and I think you will see a closer race this year.”
Lorenzo has been in red-hot form throughout pre-season and completed the final test in Qatar at the beginning of March at the head of the times, half a second clear of anyone else.
The 28-year-old admits he has been pleasantly surprised with his progress and feels he is stronger with the Michelin/control ECU package on the YZR-M1 than he was this time last year.
“A lot of things have changed and from the outside, the bikes look the same, but for the riders there is a really big difference, especially with the tyres, which have a completely different feeling on the bike,” he said.
“Also with the electronics, let's say for everyone they are less sophisticated, and more difficult to control. Anyway, the pre-season has been very good, better than we expected, and in the three practices we did we had an impressive feeling and lap times.
“In general, we are probably a little bit better than we were last year, so we have to try to take profit from the situation and start in the best way.
“In the last five or six years, you could start very fast from the first corner on the first lap, but now it is slightly more complicated,” Lorenzo added.
“We have to understand what is the limit in a very few laps, and there is the race pace and the physical condition, because it looks like it is a little bit more demanding. But when the races are happening, I think we will be more used to the electronics and tyres, so it shouldn't be a big problem for everyone.
Lorenzo was asked for his thoughts on whether the hype surrounding the final round of the 2015 championship at Valencia had been good for the sport, where he clinched the title with a victory ahead of Repsol Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
All three came in for criticism afterwards, with suggestions the Honda pair held back from challenging Lorenzo to ensure he won the race to seal the title over Valentino Rossi, who was forced to start from the back of the grid after clashing with Marquez in the Malaysian MotoGP.
Lorenzo, though, said simply: “Personally speaking, I got one more world title, more popularity and the bonus of the world championship so I can say it was a great year for me.
“Also for the sport too, because some people said it was the race of the century, but after the race I don't know: I just know I won and I am very glad of what I did.
“Obviously last year it was very important to be world champion but this is another year, 2015 is already gone and this is a new challenge.”