You've seen extracts but here is the full interview with MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo's team manager Wilco Zeelenberg, conducted after Movistar Yamaha's final test of the year at Valencia...

Crash.net:
What are the key aspects for the riders in terms of adapting to the tyre and ECU changes?

Wilco Zeelenberg:
I think it's a very important to go safe and step-by-step, because basically these guys are used to such defined and prepared material, let's say, and suddenly they get something new that they don't know but they have to push on the limit. Then you get what you seen, where basically everybody on their nose.

Crash.net:
Jorge was one of the few riders that didn't fall...

Wilco Zeelenberg:
He took a lot of care. The other difficulty for these guys is that as we saw during the season - during the season every time Jorge put the Michelin on, he was on the floor, but that was always after a period of using Bridgestones and then the very next day with the Michelins. You think that you can ride the same as with the Bridgestone.

We found out quickly it doesn't work like that, not only for Jorge but also basically for all the riders. So it was clear that we had to react and proceed in a different way and this is what we did.

First of all, after the race there was one day with no testing so that the riders could clear their head from the 'Bridgestone rhythm' and also we directly adjusted the bike setup more to the Michelin tyres. Which we did not do until now. It was always just 'take the Bridgestone tyres out and put the Michelin in', to give Michelin feedback for the tyres.

Also, both riders were in a championship battle and it is difficult to just throw everything overboard and try some other things for next year. We were not really interested in [the 2016 tyres] at that time. Now we are. Okay the risk is, are you running behind? At a certain point I think we did because we missed some [Michelin] tests and the riders were a little bit scared to try them because they were thinking about this year's championship.

So I think that in our case, for the new tyres, it was a little bit of a disadvantage that we were challenging for the championship. The other manufacturers could think 'we don't care, we'll just try whatever we want'.

Crash.net:
Aside from the new tyres, the most obvious visual change for the 2016 Yamaha is the fuel tank being moved behind the rider. Is that because the grip balance has shifted to the back with the Michelins, compared to the Bridgestones?

Wilco Zeelenberg:
No. It's a different grip balance, but we also have two litres more fuel for next year so we need to create volume. Find more room. It's not completely fixed if we will use this set-up yet [with the tank filler at the rear].

We know we have two litres more fuel to put somewhere so this idea was created and we are trying it. Basically we can go everywhere [with the extra fuel] but you cannot go a lot more forward because you have the airbox. And if you make the airbox smaller you know what will happen! That would be a problem.

Crash.net:
Does this tank design also give you more set-up options to try?

Wilco Zeelenberg:
Yeah.

Crash.net:
Is Jorge an adaptable rider, how well does he deal with the kind of major bike changes that are taking place?

Wilco Zeelenberg:
Actually he's quite good in that, because he is able to ride any kind of set-up very fast. So even when his bikes are completely different he has a very good pace with both. But on the other side he felt the tyre limit very well with the Bridgestones. He knew the limit.

But with the Michelin he needs to learn where the limit is because the problem is it doesn't give as much warning. This is for everybody at the moment. That is why you see the crashes. They are not patient enough.

Crash.net:
Where is the 'danger area' with the Michelins at the moment - when does the rider need to be most careful and recalibrate their minds?

Wilco Zeelenberg:
Well not during acceleration when the bike is straight up, this is quite clear! But it also depends on what setup you have. So some are struggling during braking, the front is already locking. Others they are mid-corner, they lose the front as they open the throttle. So it is [not only the tyre] but also the engine behaviour and the riding style.

Dani for example brakes hard in a straight line, turns shortly and then picks up the bike quickly. This is his style and it is quite suitable also for the Michelin, because you are not leaning so long on the side and you don't ask a lot of the front. Jorge, Marc and Vale struggle a bit more I guess because they brake hard but also deep. This is what they used to do with the Bridgestone and they have to skip that a little bit out of their mind. And this is difficult!

Crash.net:
What have been the first impressions of the ECU?

Wilco Zeelenberg:
Well there is a lot of work to do there.

Crash.net:
After the first day Rossi said it was like going back to 2008...

Wilco Zeelenberg:
I would say after the second day we caught up about three or four years! It's true that we need to work on that a lot and of course these bikes - from Honda and Yamaha - were very finely tuned in this area: Wheelie control, traction control, engine braking, all these matters.

Now they've changed suddenly, to a system that has never been tested before. So it was not strange that they felt lost on the first day. 'Whoa, whoa, what's happened?' But as soon as they can read the data, they can see what is going wrong and now it is a question of adjusting everything.

Crash.net:
Marquez said that the electronics are cutting too much and not allowing him to slide smoothly...

Wilco Zeelenberg:
Yeah. I think that's also for us. I can't give a specific answer because I have not been on the bike but from what I hear from Jorge it [the ECU] is controlling a lot and not in the right way.

Crash.net:
Do you think the changes will help improve the racing next year?

Wilco Zeelenberg:
Well as long as I can see that the top guy is only one second quicker than the guy in 15th. We probably slowed down half a second or more and the other guys less, especially the Ducati guys because we don't know what they are using at the moment so that is another question. Also Suzuki is very fast, but we don't know what software they were using. I think if you look at the timesheets they are very close, so it is very difficult to say who has an advantage or disadvantage at the moment because it is very tight.

Crash.net:
Do you think there could be more small mistakes and so it might be more difficult to be consistent with the lap times?

Wilco Zeelenberg:
It's too early to say, to be honest.

Crash.net:
Last question Wilco. When Jorge does his practice starts, normally they are really bad. But in the races they are perfect. Is he deliberately 'rough' during the practice starts to gather data in order to optimise everything for the real start? What is going on!

Wilco Zeelenberg:
Yeah, you know Jorge is quite special in that area because he risks everything to make the wrong start in practice, so that it's quite 'bullet-proof' to make a good start in the race.

For example he lets the clutch out too quickly so he can reduce the performance to what he needs for the race. He goes too far, so he can learn and bring it back. Then he is much safer when he does the real start.

Crash.net:
So Jorge knows the practice starts are probably not going to be good? Sometimes he doesn't look happy...

Wilco Zeelenberg:
Yes. He tries to make good starts in practice, but he also does everything to make the bike wheelie or spin or whatever so that we can try to find the best way to set it up for the race start.

But it is difficult. Many times he complains in practice and I say 'yes, but you were on the dirty part of the track! We should not set-up too much for the dirty side'. Anyway, we get it right for the race.

Crash.net:
Thanks Wilco. Congratulations and have a good winter.

Wilco Zeelenberg:
Thanks!

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