The Red Bull Ring, venue for the forthcoming return of the Austrian Grand Prix, will be the best circuit for Ducati on the MotoGP
world championship calendar.
That's the view of reigning triple world champion Jorge Lorenzo, after watching Desmosedici riders dominate Tuesday's opening day of testing.
All but the Repsol Honda and Tech 3 Yamaha teams are present to prepare for next month's grand prix, but the top four places were filled by Ducati riders
- and eight of the top ten.
The leading non-Ducati rider was Suzuki's Maverick Vinales in fifth (+0.831s) and the next best Yamaha's Valentino Rossi in ninth (+1.290s).
Rossi's team-mate Lorenzo, who limped home in 15th place at the Sachsenring after struggling for front feeling in cold or damp conditions
, was eleventh (+1.411s).
“It's been hard to accept that all the Ducatis are so fast,” Lorenzo said. “It looks like this track gives them a big advantage, especially in braking stability, acceleration and top speed. They can use all their engine power here and the difference is huge.
“With the Suzuki and Honda we are not so far. But there are a lot of Ducatis and they are all very fast.
“We didn't expect such a big difference. Nothing is impossible but if we want to fight for the win in dry conditions we need to improve a lot. It looks like this track is the best one for Ducati in all the championship.
“But little-by-little we will try to improve and close this gap. Let's see if it's possible.”
The only potential Ducati weakness Lorenzo was aware of at the circuit is a question mark over tyre endurance.
“I hear they have some problems with rear tyre life. They overheat a little bit more the rear tyre, some pieces go out of the rear tyre, so I don't know if they can keep this speed for the whole race.”
Ducati has not won a MotoGP race since 2010, with Lorenzo joining the factory next season.
One of Lorenzo's tasks for Wednesday's final day of testing will be to try and improve the braking performance of his M1.
“At this moment with the front Michelin tyre we are having some locking on hard braking. There are some bumps also in the braking which doesn't help the braking. It's very tricky and easy to go wide.”
Like some other riders, Lorenzo is concerned by the lack of run-off available at parts of the circuit, which also hosts the Austrian F1 round.
“The track is fast, the tarmac is good just there are three or four places where the walls are close and could be dangerous for MotoGP. It's difficult to change, but for the next years we will try to improve the safety,” Lorenzo explained.
“For me the worse is Turn 2 because you arrive at 340-350 km/h and you are leaning on the left side. On this braking the wall on the left side is very close, so if the front closes while you are still on the left and the bike goes towards the wall it could be very dangerous.
“The other braking areas have less leaning so they are a bit less dangerous, but still not perfect and then the last corner, on the exit, if you have a highside you can hit the wall.”
Lorenzo remains second in the world championship but has dropped from 24 to 48 points behind Marc Marquez heading into the mid-season summer break.
By Peter McLaren