Jorge Lorenzo was in little doubt: 2017, a season in which the Majorcan toiled before gradually finding his way, confirmed he and Ducati possess the potential to scale the dizzying heights of his glory years at Yamaha and claim a fourth MotoGP world championship.

Speaking at the Bologna factory's MotoGP presentation, Lorenzo used his time in front of the press to talk up his chances for the year ahead (“hopefully we can do it from the beginning at Qatar”), as well as indicating his desire to remain at Ducati beyond this year.

Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso’s recent successes and unexpected title challenge confirmed the potential within the factory in Borgo Panigale, he said, while Lorenzo’s own mid-season renaissance from the summer break saw him become a regular challenger for the top six places in the autumn of last year.

Should the 2018 version of the Desmosedici be a slight upgrade on what he raced in the previous ten months and be competitive at every track on the calendar, Lorenzo feels a championship challenge will be forthcoming. The five-time world champion was clear he has every confidence in Ducati’s ability to make this happen.

“I think not only my expectations, but all the team around [are that] we definitely believe we can do it, that we can win the championship,” said 30-year old Lorenzo. “Firstly, with Andrea. He didn’t do it but he fought for the championship until the end. He won many races.

“So now the team believes that it’s possible to do it. I am looking forward to this season because it could be the first season in Ducati that two riders fight for the world championship until the end. This is my will and this is what I’m looking forward to and what I’m working to achieve.

“Still we need to get a bike that goes well at each races of the year. I have a lot of confidence that the team will do that this year. And when this happens it’s a matter of being fast and faster than the rest. Winning races and fighting for the title will be a consequence of a lot of hard work.

““You cannot secure anything but obviously I finished the championship at quite a high level. Obviously it wasn’t the level I wanted because I want to be as I was in my best period with Yamaha. I think I can do it also with Ducati. Hopefully we can do it from the beginning at Qatar and try to win the race.”

Not that Lorenzo feels he has it all figured out. There is still work to be done at his end in adapting to the Desmosedici, known to be more powerful and less agile that the Yamaha M1 he rode for nine years.

However 2018 should mark an important change: Lorenzo believes this year’s machine will be tailored more toward his needs, with the machine’s turning ability a clear focus for factory technical chief Gigi Dall’Igna.

“You never stop learning,” he said.” I never stop changing my riding, even when I was in Yamaha in my eighth or ninth year. I think you always learn something if you have the will or the curiosity to do it.

“When I retire I will always try to learn something. Obviously this year I changed so much. I learnt so much to try and ride the Ducati at its best. It’s never complete.

“I believe that last year, if we were like this, I changed a little bit more than the bike to adapt myself into the bike. Probably this year will be the opposite and the bike will improve quite a lot to go in my direction, to be [strong], not only in acceleration, braking and the straight, but also in the centre of the corner.”

While it may only be the middle of January, much of Monday's talk centred on factory and rider plans for 2019. Factory management indicating it would prefer to keep Lorenzo teamed with Dovizioso beyond this year. 

The Majorcan concurred. Signing an extension to stay with Ducati beyond ’18 is the 30-year old’s “priority” (“to finish what we started”), even if commanding a similar salary to his current contract – estimated to be around twelve million Euros – could prove difficult.

“I have a good contract because my value in the market was high, you know,” Lorenzo said. “A lot of riders speak about that, but when I signed the contract I was five-time world champion. I won many victories – 44 in MotoGP. A lot of pole positions. I fought for the world title for nine years. I won this contract.

“Obviously, they say your value is the same as your last race. My last race is a crash so it’s not very high! And last season was not good. But, you know, I’m lucky to be here for the passion because economically, luckily I’m well.

“I will be competitive if I decide to continue. My priority is to stay with Ducati to finish what I started – that is to try and win the world title. If it’s possible to continue in Ducati, I will be very happy. It’s very early to speak because we didn’t speak about that [yet] but I’m sure sooner or later it will happen and we’ll see what happens.”

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It would be a bad thing to do if Ducati pits the two riders against each other, it doesn'work.

What I am getting at is if they give them an ultimatum where the rider with the most points after 6 races gets the contract.

Mind you, having said that I'm thinking they should have done that last year :)

Gotta like the new, humble, Lozzer though....nice interview.

If this GP18 is any better than the last iteration mid-corner, then I can see Jorge winning a race or two this season.  I'm not going to say a title challenge, as much as I'd like to see that (!) but he'll be among the top 4/5 in the table this year i think

Hoping for a Ducati title win this year, would like it to be Dovi, so close last year and I believe he can do it again if the bike is right.

But also want Jorge to get the title so he has achieved titles with different manufacturers.

Somehow I'm going to cheer for both!

OK with you Navelgazer if Dovi gets it this season and Jorge gets it in 2019 ?

Yes Codge, that'll do for me

 I love the look of the new bike/leathers combo!!  I hope Jorge does it, just to keep the title tally level with Marc...create a rivalry, especially in Spain!  But who doesnt want Dovi to win it...he is so likeable you wish they could somehow give out two titles in a season!! LOL

For me as soon as Jorge got himself away from the Yamaha garages, he was able to work with a team that was working with him. I didn't hear him complaining he just got on with it, and he was able to make gains with the bike over the duration of the season. How was he able to make gains with the Ducati in the wet and yet failed at Yamaha, I can't get my head around that one. While at Yamaha the whole world sceamed he can't ride in the wet, we now know that is nonsense. I can see why he is so full of confidence, he has a good team around him, but still the ducati is corner poor, if only they both steered with the back tyre like Casey. Anyway here's hoping Jorge can stay with Dovi on track consistently and they both see the top step of the podium within four races... 

Dickens.....all true, I would add though that the Ducati is known for being a good wet track performer. Over recent seasons a number of riders put in good performances on Ducatis in the rain, even some that normally struggled to get a top 10 finish in the dry.

Please let the Ducati ( and therefore Jorge ) manage to keep wet track performance when they cure the mid corner weekness. Often an improvement in one area messes up another area.

I got a sneaking feeling that Lorenzo will be hot off the blocks this season. I wonder if Dovi's success has inadvertently created a potential problem for Ducati. I bet when they broke the bank to put an alien on their bike who could finally deliver the championship, they didn't envision the number two rider being the one to almost crack it - and become a highly popular global star.  If Dovi picks up where he left off and they are nicking priceless points off each, I think Ducati will make a quick decision on team orders. The PR dream, no egg-on-face, is that their investment in Lorenzo paid off. The only problem with all of this...MM93!

But MM93's problem might be Alberto Puig!

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