HRC technical manager Takeo Yokoyama admits Jorge Lorenzo has been caught in a downward spiral since joining Honda in MotoGP this season.

But he's also confident that 'good things will soon happen' for the triple MotoGP champion once he emerges on the other side.

Lorenzo has suffered a punishing succession of injuries, stretching back to September last year at Ducati. The most damaging in terms of his new Honda career being a scaphoid break that robbed him of vital winter testing and then back fractures at Assen, the event after his short-but-spectacular Catalunya performance.

All of which means the 47-time premier-class winner, sidelined since the Dutch round, is yet to claim a top ten on the RCV. Lorenzo is expected to return to action at next weekend's British MotoGP.

"It's true that it's taking more time than expected, for him and for us, to be fast enough," Yokoyama said. 

"Because of his riding style we expected that it will not be easy for him to adapt to the Honda bike and not easy for us to make the best-fitting bike for him. But then on top of this prediction he was injured a couple of times.

"He didn't have enough time to get used to our bike and every time he started to feel good, comfortable then something unlucky happened - a couple more crashes, another injury.

"So we are in a negative spiral. But in life, once you go through the negative spiral, only good things will happen. So you will see, soon!"

Lorenzo's woes, which have recently seen him linked to a shock return to Ducati or Yamaha, have been in stark contrast to the near dream season for team-mate Marc Marquez. The reigning champion has won six of eleven races and finished runner-up in four others, for a 58-point title lead.

But with LCR's Cal Crutchlow describing similar handling issues to Lorenzo, how does Honda prioritise rider feedback?

"Starting from Cal, we know his character, he's really demanding and I think everybody knows that he likes to speak a lot!" said Yokoyama. "I am personally enjoying a lot to speak with him and every time we come to a serious discussion he is very good for giving us the feedback and that's why we are trying to improve the bike also for him. It's the same for Jorge.

"So the three [factory] riders - Marc, Jorge and Cal - we are working for all of them, of course. It doesn't happen so often that all of them say completely opposite or different directions or requests. But in case that happens, of course, our priority is Marc. Because Marc is a champion, he can give us the best feedback let's say and the first priority is to win the title, with Marc.

"If for some reason Marc decides to go 'on holiday', of course we have to keep working based on the direction from the other riders. But Marc will not go on holiday, don't worry!"

Curiously, Yokoyama did not agree that the impressive straight-line gains by Honda this season have been at the expense of front-end handling, despite Marquez explaining that he needs record lean angles to get this year's bike to turn.

"I don't agree [we lost front-end feeling]. Because it's true that compared to last year, one of the points was to gain on the top speed. But of course our target was not to lose anything else and I'm confident that we have achieved a good level," he said.

Nonetheless, HRC is clearly putting in considerable effort to improve its chassis by experimenting with carbon-fibre alongside the usual aluminium.

Yokoyama said they still have a lot to learn about how to use the compositive and, interestingly, the knowledge gained with the carbon fibre swingarm was not directly transferable to the main frame.

"From Jerez with Bradl as a wild-card we have started to try [the frame incorporating some carbon fibre] and we have already modified it four or five times," he explained.

"There is always some positive and some negative. But we are still in the middle of studying what is the benefit of this material.

"I mean obviously we have learned from the carbon swingarm, but when we apply this carbon material onto the front part of the chassis the performance change is not the same as in the swingarm.

"Once we know exactly the best way to use it I think you'll see all of our riders on that [carbon fibre chassis]."

 

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