On the week his plans for 2017 were announced, Jorge Lorenzo showed that he has retained all of his focus on the job at hand by topping both MotoGP free practice sessions on Friday at Jerez.
Recovering from some early set-up and electronics issues in FP1, Lorenzo fitted a new tyre toward the close of both sessions to eventually end the day with 0.345s in hand over championship leader Marc Marquez.
Not that new rubber was the sole reason for Lorenzo's speed. In the afternoon the Majorcan posted eight laps in the low-mid 1m 40s, in spite of the Andalusian track suffering from a distinct lack of rear grip.
“Well the result for sure [is good] - first and first,” began the reigning world champion, who will switch to Ducati machinery in 2017. “In the morning I was one of the only ones to put a new tyre at the end. I had some problems at the beginning of the practice with the setting and the electronics so I wasn't very fast. The position was not really realistic.
“But in the afternoon both with old and the new one, with the old one I was more with better pace and with the new one I was the fastest. It's difficult to analyse because there are different strategies with the tyres. Most started with the new tyres and keep all the practice with the same tyre. I was different. I started with the old and put a new in the end. It was difficult to understand but the feeling is good. We have a good pace and [we are] quite fast.”
There were near universal complaints of excessive spinning with the rear tyre but Lorenzo wasn't overly concerned with the state of the track. Nor was he with the hardening of Michelin's rear tyre construction, as it demands greater throttle sensitivity, one of his strongest feats.
“From Argentina Michelin is bringing harder tyres. I feel, for example, Pedrosa is struggling so much for his weight. Especially in this track with this tarmac in the middle of the corner we have a good grip. As soon as we pick up the bike we are spinning too much. It's difficult for a rider to keep a constant pace through all the race.
“But to be honest, in the afternoon, I could keep it [in] the low 1m 40s. You need to pay attention, ride smooth and it's not simple. You have to be smoother with the throttle than last year and for sure the rider will count so much in general, in all the tracks, but especially here with all the spinning.”
A quick glance at the timesheets point exactly toward the sector in which the number 99 was making up the majority of his time. The two fast rights that precede Jerez's final hairpin saw Lorenzo put some 0.3s into Marquez, and the Movistar Yamaha man feels the final sector has been one of his strongest for years.
“From a long time ago I was very fast in the last sector. In MotoGP, but also from my time in 250, these two fast corners on the right side in fourth gear give me some benefit of my natural talent to go fast. Then in the slow corners I can not make such a big difference with my riding but in these two corners I can make a real difference. Also in the last corner, which is not so fast.”
On returning to Yamaha's 2016 chassis, which houses the fuel tank in the seat unit and Lorenzo tried sporadically throughout the day, he added, “It was OK. We couldn't compare it so much to the other bike. Tomorrow we are going to test both bikes to see which is the difference.”