Both Jorge Lorenzo and Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall'Igna are confident the five-time world champion will not need a radical change of riding style in 2017, with the Majorcan insisting he will maintain “the same DNA” of old.
“Precision, focus, smoothness and corner speed” were the traits Lorenzo identified that not only carried him to a deluge of past success, but those that will serve him well in the coming months as he prepares for his first MotoGP season with Ducati.
Having spent nine seasons aboard Yamaha's M1, a machine know for its sweet handling, there were doubts that Lorenzo could maximise his performance aboard Ducati's less nimble, more powerful Desmosedici.
Lorenzo however pointed toward his experience with two different manufacturers in the 250cc class, citing his swift adaption from Honda to Aprilia machinery in 2006, as evidence that he can make subtle riding adjustments with the minimum of fuss.
“It depends and we come back again to the example of the 250s,” offered Lorenzo when quizzed at Ducati's MotoGP launch on how he expects his riding style to change.
“[I rode] two different bikes. The Honda, I needed to brake much later and less corner speed. The Aprilia was the opposite really. With it you couldn't brake so late. With this bike [the Ducati] it will probably be something similar.
“It has another [type of] engine, with a lot more power on the straight and with more stability. If your faster than before but have good stability maybe you can brake at the same point. But I will keep more or less the same DNA; that is precision, focus, smoothness and corner speed with the Ducati.”
Dovizioso and Dall'Igna had repeatedly identified the bike's ability to turn mid-corner as an issue in the second half of 2016, in spite of Ducati's presence in the top four at each of the final four races.
Dall'Igna nonetheless resolved to eradicate this weakness over the winter months and assured the assembled press that Lorenzo would not “have to change a lot” if these issues ceased to persist.
“Frankly speaking I don't think we have to change a lot the bike for his style,” he said. “For sure we have to improve the bike, but not only for him, also Dovizioso, if I give him a bike that is better in the middle of the corner it will improve his performance.
“This is our target, improve the bike in the middle of the corner, and we have some ideas. We have to test these ideas during Sepang, Phillip Island and Qatar and after that we will see.”
Lorenzo's high-corner speed style is at a contrast to new team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, a rider known for his late-braking ability. Asked if he felt worried that the new machine would be designed to favour the Majorcan, Dovizioso instead directed his concerns toward the absence of wings.
The loss of downforce was a safety concern, he said, reminding those present of the necessary adjustments on the exit of the final corner at Valencia.
“For sure we have to adapt the balance of the bike and the set-up of the electronics,” said Dovizioso. “I did a comparison test [with bikes that featured wings and bikes that didn't] – not a lot – but a bit in Malaysia and the difference was very big.
“But the biggest difference is safety. It's something that we understood but the safety change a lot. In the last three years everybody increased the downforce with the wings. It was step-by-step and everyone developed it through the years.
“The quantity of the downforce was quite big. At the beginning you were lost on the exit. The biggest change is when you have a lot of [lean] angle and open a big percentage of throttle and you start to wheelie. This could be the biggest change.
“In Valencia maybe nobody noticed but from the test, almost at the finish line there were a lot of black lines and it was the front wheel when it started to spin again [when coming into contact with the asphalt]. So if you check the metres from the last corner to the finish line it's a lot of metres. All of them you are without weight on the front and it's difficult to change the direction.
“If you notice on TV at the test everyone that was without the winglets changed completely the line. This is not safe because when you don't have enough grip on the front you can't control the direction of the bike enough. In some tracks it's big, in others no.
“So everyone has to adapt. In the test, I understood that in the beginning without winglets we didn't have a lot of problems. The problem is when you make the comparison."
“Then the difference is big. But it's the same for everybody. It's about adapting the style, the set-up of the bike. It's not so important the lap time in Jerez [at a test] in November but a lot of Ducatis were really fast without wings. So I'm not worried about that."
FIRST LOOK: Jorge Lorenzo in Ducati Red by Crash_net