18 March 2016
MotoGP Qatar: Friday pace catches Lorenzo by surprise
'A lot of riders improved into '54 so I didn't expect this improvement, so now we lose a little bit of the advantage we had yesterday and in the test' - Jorge Lorenzo.
Jorge Lorenzo admitted he was surprised by Friday's free practice times as the Movistar Yamaha rider ended the day second overall in Qatar.
Lorenzo was 0.137s behind the Ducati of Andrea Iannone, who was among several riders who dipped in the 1m 54s bracket in FP3, including Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez in third.
The reigning world champion said the massive speed advantage of the Ducati GP16 on the long front straight was worth a few tenths, but added that it was more important to have a bike that performed strongly in the corners, such as his own factory M1.
“[We had] some problems in the last run when conditions had no wind and with the tyres that we believe should be the race tyres,” Lorenzo said.
“The setting we found, that for the moment is the best one – we could be in '54.7, one tenth better than the test – but the problem is that all the riders improve.
“A lot of riders improved into '54 so I didn't expect this improvement, so now we lose a little bit of the advantage we had yesterday and in the test. I believe that if we improve a little bit the bike we can achieve some advantage and make a more easy bike to keep a higher pace – this will be better for the race.”
Iannone's Ducati was 14km/h faster than the Yamaha in a straight line and Lorenzo said the difference was 'huge'.
“For sure, this doesn't help because we are losing quite a bit of metres on the straight, maybe two or three tenths and luckily it is only one big straight, which for sure helps. But obviously it is a big one, 1km, and the difference is huge,” he said.
“I believe it is more important to have a competitive bike on the corners. Today was difficult to make a difference on the corners but we have to keep trying.”
On the marked improvement by Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, who appeared to struggle in FP1 on Thursday, Lorenzo said Marquez had been 'risking a lot' for a fast time in FP3.
“I saw that Marc was riding very aggressive and risking a lot but he is there and he is faster than the test and he make a good lap time,” he said.
Marquez was able to follow Lorenzo during FP3 but the Mallorcan said he was unworried because he was riding with worn tyres and using different settings at that point in the session.
“I was very slow at this moment because I was with old tyres, with different settings so I didn't care so much he was following,” he said.
“With my style, normally I am making a little difference compared to other riders [on the Michelin tyres] but not today and we hope tomorrow and in the next races we can recover again this difference.”
Lorenzo appears to have settled on the harder front tyre for Sunday's night race at Losail but is yet to make a call on which rear compound he feels will make the biggest difference.
“In the last exit I felt better with the harder option and now we have to find the best with the rear. I think the front we have more or less decided,” he said.
“I don't know why we are not able to race with the softer front tyre. Maybe in another track we will be able, but here we have this graining on the right side and it doesn't help because it is the one that I feel better with.
“The medium yesterday I believed could be an option, but today I saw it was not. [It was] just not good in general.”
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