Jorge Lorenzo, whose partnership with Wilco Zeelenberg began what is now termed a MotoGP 'rider coach', believes feedback from Alex Debon will compliment that of Michele Pirro in 2018.

With former 250cc grand prix winner Zeelenberg remaining at Yamaha to work with Maverick Vinales, Lorenzo relied upon Ducati test rider Pirro to provide trackside observations in 2017.

But while Pirro is in the unique position of riding the same bike, the Italian's busy schedule - which includes MotoGP wild-cards, testing and the CIV Superbike Championship - meant he couldn't always be present.

Lorenzo has thus called on friend and former rival Debon, a double 250GP winner who also worked with Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall’Igna at Aprilia, to supplement his support team in 2018.

"I don’t like to call them these kind of names - coach or whatever - because actually I was the first one to use this, the guy that pays attention on the track, in the world championship with Wilco in 2010," Lorenzo said at the Ducati launch.

"I always think four eyes are better than two eyes: Alex can give me some things and Michele can give me other things. All together we can create an even better team.

"Alex has a lot experience. He worked with Gigi in the past. He knows me very well. He has a strong character. This is very important. I think communication in the team is something that’s improved.

"But I don’t want to forget Michele Pirro, who welcomed the arrival of Alex Debon. He’ll continue at the races and remains an important part [of the team].

"What Michele can give me is that he has exactly the same feelings that I have with the same bike. He is at a very high level and can give me some advice to improve my riding and also have more eyes looking at the track."

Lorenzo's camaraderie with countryman Debon, who helped during a title showdown with current team-mate Andrea Dovizioso for the 2006 250cc World Championship, was also an important factor in his selection.

"I think in life it’s important to be surrounded by people that you trust and that make you smile," Lorenzo said.

"Alex is a really positive guy that I’ve known for a long time. We were friends as well. I’m sure that we’re going to have a lot of fun this year, depending on what results we achieve. "

But it is the hunger for more information as he constantly adapts his riding style that is most important to Lorenzo.

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

"Obviously last year I changed so much. I learnt so much to try and ride the Ducati at its best, but it’s never complete."

However Lorenzo backed-up recent comments by Ducati team manager Davide Tardozzi and sporting director Paolo Ciabatti, who both suggested the next step needs to come from the bike.

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

Dovizioso was the only Ducati rider to win a grand prix last year, with Lorenzo leading races but being forced to settle for three podiums in his rookie Desmosedici season.

While acknowledging the pressure to win, the triple MotoGP champion - who benefitted more than any other rider from the introduction of Ducati's downforce fairing at Brno - remains patient and views victory as the 'consequence' of hard work.

"I’m here because of my passion. To accept this challenge of a lifetime. The confidence Ducati has in me, they’ve gambled. There is pressure there, but, as always, the most pressure will always come from me. I’m the first one that wants to improve results.

"Like I said before, the team and the bike are ready to win the championship, like Dovizioso demonstrated last year by winning races. Still we need to get a bike that goes well at each race 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 faster than the rest. Winning races and fighting for the title will be a consequence of a lot of hard work."


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