Jorge Lorenzo insists he has no plans to seek an early exit from his two-year Repsol Honda MotoGP contract.

Despite a torrid run of injuries, mid-season talks with Ducati and being left towards the back-of the-field in recent rounds, the triple MotoGP champion maintained: "My objective and my idea is to [stay and] finish my contract with Honda."

Lorenzo is under added pressure following the announcement that Johann Zarco, available for next season after splitting from KTM, will ride for LCR Honda in the final three rounds following this weekend's Japanese event.

The Frenchman will be an injury replacement for Takaaki Nakagami, a role that would normally go to HRC test rider Stefan Bradl.

"I don’t know. It's just a matter of the LCR team and Honda," responded Lorenzo, when quizzed on Zarco's deal at Motegi on Thursday. "I guess they needed a rider because Taka is having an operation and Zarco is free and a fast rider, so why not?

"Maybe he'll be very fast and fight for pole position, I don’t know! Who knows!" he smiled.

Lorenzo did admit that he expected much more from his debut season at Honda, alongside newly crowned six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez, but never had the chance to ride at full fitness.

"When I first signed with Honda I expected much more. Maybe not necessarily to fight for the championship, but not the results that I'm getting now," he said.

"In Aragon [last year] I had a foot injury, then in Thailand an injury in the hand, then in pre-season the scaphoid injury, in Qatar I broke a rib and then in Assen I broke the back.

"So I've never ridden at 100% with this bike. This has been a big influence on my results. My back feels better, every week I feel small improvements. But it's a very long process. So slow, the recovery."

On the technical side, Lorenzo is currently trying to improve rear grip, but the price is a loss of front stability.

"We are trying some different settings but honestly when you want to gain [rear] grip you lose front stability. So finally you never gain everywhere.

"For the moment we don’t find the right setting for me. Let's keep trying and let's see. Here we have some old stuff to retest again that can give us something more.

"Motegi has always been one of my favourite tracks, especially because the tarmac is very flat and grippy, which is always good for my riding.

"So hopefully here we can make a better result than Thailand and especially the last three races, fighting for the points and be much faster."

Beyond that, it's a case of trying to remain positive during his worst grand prix season since a 2002 debut in the 125cc class.

"There's no better choice in life than thinking positive. Even if the situation is complicated professionally, like my situation now, there's no other way," he explained. "Try to keep fighting, keep trying new things on the bike to feel better and try to understand some ways to take more performance from the bike."

Lorenzo has scored just four points across the four races since his return from the back injuries. His best result of the season so far is eleventh place in France, leaving him with a total of 23 points compared with 325 for Marquez.

The financial penalty for breaking a contract early usually depends on whether the split is initiated by the rider or the team...

 

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