There were many reasons for Jorge Lorenzo to feel satisfied on Friday evening: he topped the free practice leader-board that afternoon; what’s more he had pace to trouble the fastest men around; and there was clear progression from the end of ‘16, his feeling on Ducati’s GP17 much improved from last year’s test.

Although Repsol Honda duo Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa displayed an ominous pace throughout day one of MotoGP free practice at Valencia, Lorenzo was able to gain considerable time under braking, and was pleased with his consistency on Michelin’s soft and medium compound rear tyre.

“The only thing is that Valencia, there are some corners which are not the best for our bike,” he said. “The Hondas are very strong. We are very similar. Pedrosa, Marquez, and myself, we are very similar – for the one lap and also for the pace. But it’s a track that I like. Every race I’m better and better. Today I rode very well and I can take profit of the strong points of the bike more than before.

“It was not only one lap that I was fast. The last two runs I used the medium rear and was very consistent – one of the most consistent. I put in the soft rear and improved so much. But not only for one lap. I made three laps in 1m 30-high. It was good.”

On where he can improve ahead of Saturday, Lorenzo explained, “We have a good stability on braking. The bike always has a good stability. But as always we struggle in the corners that we need to stay for a long time on the angle, and we need to turn the bike.

“The bike struggles to turn there and we lose compared to the Hondas for example. But we are there. We are very close and that’s a good point because we can be the best ones at the tracks that we like. We can be quite close at the tracks that we don’t like so much, apart from Phillip Island and the Sachsenring. We need to work a lot there in the future.”

The Circuit Ricardo Tormo was the scene of Lorenzo’s first sampling of Ducati machinery. Indeed his first day at last year’s test saw him place third overall. Asked whether that outing was a good reference for his recent progress, the 30-year said, “I don’t remember!

“I have a very short memory. I don’t remember and the feelings are much more different. The first time I rode the Ducati I was quick but I wasn’t really flowing or comfortable. Now I feel much better.”

And did he have any advice for team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, who has an outside chance of claiming the world title on Sunday? “Advice? I wish him a lot of luck,” he said. “Apart from that the only thing that he can do is to be quiet and to be as fast as possible and try to win the race. And to hope that Marquez makes some mistakes or is unlucky.”

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