Jorge Lorenzo has praised the daring and outright speed of title rival Marc Marquez after a first day of free practice at Brno saw both men feature in the top three.
Marquez topped the second free practice session after completing an outrageous front-end save on his knee at turn 13, with Lorenzo two places back in third. While not always among the fastest riders on day one, the 30-year old was nonetheless impressed by Marquez's pace increase in the final minutes of FP2.
“It's a little bit strange because he wasn't in the 1m 56s and suddenly in his last run he improve more than one second. I don't know the reason. Of course the new tyre helps him a lot. Maybe he found something. Maybe it was the front tyre or something on the bike. The improvement was big.
“Of course he's riding at the limit. He's riding very well, very aggressive and very fast. He's putting maybe a little bit more than the bike. The bike isn't bad. Of course it isn't. If it was he wouldn't be leading the championship. Nobody leads the championship running. Of course he's riding very well, taking a lot of risks, but riding very fast.”
While 0.137s slower than the fastest lap of the day, Lorenzo was satisfied with his day, his outright speed and consistency of Austria in evidence here. Although Michelin's softer option rear tyre performed well, its life was still somewhat of an unknown, he said.
“We have the possibility to try both tyres on the rear and the different tyres on the front. There are three [front] options. I tried two. On the rear I tried both. As always, the soft one had more grip and we have to see whether it can last all the race in a good performance.”
Joining Lorenzo and Marquez at the top of the time sheets, Andrea Iannone, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales also demonstrated a strong turn of pace. Of the riders around him, the reigning world champion earmarked his team-mate and Iannone as potentially the most dangerous men for Sunday.
“Well, we saw a very good last run from Marquez. 2 laps? Good. We have to see tomorrow if he can keep five, six or eight fast laps in a row in this high 55s. Maverick and Iannone are strong and then Valentino also. He has pace.
“Maverick is the unknown if the Suzuki can keep a constant pace in the race. Always on lap he's very fast but in the race it looks like they struggle a little bit more. But yeah, these three or four riders, it looks like we are the favourites in normal conditions.”
As he did at the close of the race in Austria, Lorenzo poured scorn on the claim that the 'old Jorge' continued his resurgence. Certain reports around Sachsenring – the scene of a dismal 15th place finish in the wet – suggested the Majorcan was enduring psychological problems, which he said were ludicrous.
His recent upturn in speed was more down to a change in circumstances, like higher temperatures, which in his eyes, allow Michelin's front tyres to perform better, than a particular return of form or change in attitude.
“The old Jorge? Just for two races? No. As I said for me this is a sport that is immediate. If you don't do two good races you're in crisis or you are not good. The circumstances changed, the tyres changed and they need another type of riding in cold conditions. A smooth rider, for the moment, or at least in these two tracks, struggle.
“Let's see what happens the next time it's cold or wet. Will we have the same problems. Will I struggle? Probably. Then I'll need to try something. But in normal conditions I've always been there.
“There were no problems. No with my head. Someone said I had psychological problems. But nothing. I was there and ready to be fast as I was in Austria and as I am here.”