Seeing Jorge Lorenzo fade to ninth during last Sunday’s wet Le Mans GP you immediately knew that he was suffering from some sort of technical issue or it was his tires.
The reigninng World champion would later inherit the seventh position when both Stefan Bradl and Valentino Rossi crashed out, and rejoined further down the field. Finishing with one of his worst results ever, Lorenzo believed that he ended up with a defective rain tire.
After the race Lorenzo said, “after three or four laps the bike got worse and I got problems everywhere. In the braking because in the middle of the corner I didn’t trust the rear tyre and in acceleration because the rear was spinning so much.” a
Unable to explain his unusually poor performance, Lorenzo believed that his issues were due to a defective tire, ”I don’t see anything other than the tire causing the problem,” and not due to an eventual wrong set-up, as he was the fastest rider in warm-up practice, where the track was fully wet, even if it wasn’t raining.
Both Yamaha and Bridgestone inspected the tires and could find nothing at fault - which instead they did find on one of Valentino Rossi’s slick tires following FP3 - which had small cracks on the right side.
Jorge Lorenzo was certainly not expecting to end up 7th at Le Mans, which was considered a Yamaha friendly track, especially since the reigning world champion has never been this far down on a finishing grid since Assen 2011 when he finished 6th, but there he got caught up in the late Marco Simoncelli’s crash, but he remounted and sliced through the field.
The rain at the start of the French GP race threw a wrench in his plans even though he was fastest in a wet warm-up, but his usually obedient M1 decided to that it didn’t like the rear tire or the new set-up and started spinning, and he couldn’t get it to work and slowly started to fade.
There was also some talk that his rear tire was defective (Rossi also got one this weekend), but Bridgestone promptly denied it. There were also rumors from the Spanish press that Lorenzo had problems with the visor of HJC helmet.
A rather depressed Lorenzo said he needs a bike that can give him 4 or 5 tenths more per lap, and both Yamaha riders are hoping that they’ll soon receive the much wanted seemless gearbox but apparently they’ll only get it for the Barcelona or Aragon post race tests.
“In the beginning of the race the bike was not the same as warm up but not so bad and I could follow Andrea and Dani. I was losing a lot in some areas of the track but recovering in others. Then after three or four laps the bike got worse and I got problems everywhere. In the braking because in the middle of the corner I didn’t trust the rear tyre and in acceleration because the rear was spinning so much I lost nearly half a second compared to the others. Races are like this sometimes; last year I won by 20 seconds with a very good bike and this year was completely the opposite. I couldn’t do much more without crashing,” said Lorenzo.
If Lorenzo left Le Mans losing precious points against Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez, it was even more terrible for Valentino Rossi. The Italian was riding in fourth and controlling Cal Crutchlow at a certain distance, because the visor of his AGV Pista GP was fogging up - Stefan Bradl who also crashed, but finished 10th lamented the same problem - when he hit a bump at turn 6 on lap 17 and lowsided out. Rossi was able to remount his damaged bike - his front brake lever was bent - but couldn’t do better then 12 which dropped him to fifth in the standings.
This morning’s MotoGP twenty minute warm-up practice was on a wet/damp track and the riders were out on rain tires without taking any necessary risks, however Jorge Lorenzo posted the fastest time with his tenth of eleven laps in 1.44.307 and leaving the second fastest rider Cal Crutchlow more than 0.455s adrift.
The Yamaha Tech3 was able to take part in the session as he passed the fitness test despite a small fracture to his shinbone that was taped and he was given pain meds. Marc Marquez really didn’t care about the half and half conditions as he dominated his very nervous Honda to take the third best time followed by Ducati’s Nicky Hayden and an impressive Stefan Bradl.
Andrea Dovizioso was sixth fastest albeit already one second adrift from Lorenzo, and worse went Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi - who even problems passing Bradly Smith - and they were 8th and 9th respectively and behind Aspar’s CRT rider Aleix Espargaro.
Closing out the top ten was PBM’s Yonny Hernandez who left behind him MotoGP prototype riders, Alvaro Bautista, Bradley Smith, Andrea Iannone and Michele Pirro.
Even if Jorge Lorenzo didn’t take the pole position at Le Mans pipped by Marc Marquez by mere 0.030 seconds, the Yamaha rider is quietly confident that he can take on the two Repsol Honda riders.
“All weekend we’ve been working pretty much to improve the feeling on the front tyre, where we had some difficulties at Jerez, and trying to improve the bike to keep a more consistent pace. I think we’ve got it. I also concentrated on doing a very fast lap but unfortunately I couldn’t beat Marc today because he was really fast, but our main target was to improve the bike for the race and I think we’ve done that. We’ll see tomorrow,” said Lorenzo.
Valentino Rossi’s strong suit has never been qualifying. In 279 GP race starts he has had only 59 pole positions which we can compare to team mate Jorge Lorenzo who has 182 GP starts and already has 53 pole positions.
The new 15 minute qualifying format puts the Italian rider in a quandrary, unable to use, and above all trust a new soft tire right off, something that Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Marquez are able to do without batting an eye, so they almost always qualify on the front row, while he lingers more often than not on the third row.
We’ve run out of accolades to describe the super talented Marc Marquez. The Repsol Honda rookie did it again as he took his second pole position of the 2013 season in today’s qualifying session at the Bugatti circuit at Le Mans.
If a pole position in the Austing GP was more than expected at the French circuit, Marquez learned the layout so well so well that he posted a flying lap in a stunning 1:33.187, shrugging off his FP4 crash just fifteen minutes before QP2.
Only the hammering laps of Jorge Lorenzo could keep up with the Repsol Honda rider and he finished a mere 0.030s adrift, but just checking out the time sectors you can see that the Yamaha rider is a war machine more than prepared for tomorrow’s race.
Andrea Dovizioso took the third spot on the front row, and giving Ducati their first front start after Nicky Hayden’s last year qualifying result at Jerez. Dovizioso also managed to pip by just 0.006s a battered and heroic Cal Crutchlow for the position, proving that the Ducati does like the French circuit.
It was sunny, but very cold this morning for the first MotoGP free practice at the Bugatti circuit at Le Mans. The fastest rider of the session was Dani Pedrosa who was immediately set the pace in what turned out to be a tight practice with nine riders in less than nine tenths of a second.
The Repsol Honda rider is on a high after his first victory of the season at Jerez stopped the clock in 1.34.645, but Jorge Lorenzo was right on his tail and just 0.040s adrift.
Valentino Rossi was third fastest followed by Ducati duo Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso, who were 4th and 5th respectively, and just 0.327 and 0.427 from the top of the timesheets and effectively Le Mans seems to work for the Desmosedici, even in the dry.
Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez may have shook hands during the flight home from Jerez - they were seated next to each other - while after the race Lorenzo took the politically correct route refusing more or less to talk about the last corner incident, but apparently the reigning World Champion has been brooding over the incident for the last two weeks, and at Le Mans, the Yamaha rider decided to talk about it during the usual riders’ briefing with the Race Direction also present, according to Italian website GPone.com
It wasn’t exactly handbags against Marquez, nothing like what happened with the late Marco Simoncelli, but more against the Race Direction for not taking action, with Lorenzo saying that Marquez should have been punished for the pass, under the new penalty points system.
Lorenzo believes that Race Direction should have given Marquez a penalty for Jerez incident citing that, “In football, you just take off your shirt you get a yellow card, in Formula 1 every manoeuvre is under a microscope while here no one does anything.”
Lorenzo also stated that he couldn’t find anyone of the Race Direction to talk following the race, upset that the pass wasn’t even investigated (but apparently it was). He also said Marquez would have never closed the corner and that he would have ended up running off track if he didn’t use him as a berm.
Even if the Circuit de la Sarthe at Le Mans is considered a stop-and-go track, Yamaha usually performs well and the team is hoping to capitalize on the historically friendly circuit, after what turned out to be a suprisingly demanding Jerez GP for the two factory riders.
Yamaha has won four of out of five last French GPs, and both Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi have each recorded three MotoGP wins at Le Mans.
The team will be displaying special logo on Lorenzo’s and Rossi’s Yamahas’ during the weekend in tribute to Yamaha legend Jean Claude Olivier who passed away tragically earlier this year in a road traffic accident.
Known to all as ‘JCO’, Olivier was a Yamaha icon and loyal employee for 45 years until his retirement in 2010. JCO competed in the Dakar Rally for Yamaha from 1979 to 1989, finishing second in 1985. There will also be a display of images inside Yamaha’s Hospitality depicting highlights of Yamaha Motor France’s story in road racing.
Lorenzo who had a rough Jerez GP after bashing fairings with Marc Marquez. The Spaniard has made peace with the Honda rider - shaking his hand during the flight home - but has vowed to improve even more and warned that if it’s necessary he’ll revert back to being as aggressive as he was in the 250cc class.
Not even the time to rest after yesterday’s punishing Spanish GP, the MotoGP riders were back on track this morning for a one day official post-race test at Jerez.
After taking a controversial second place, Marc Marquez topped the timesheets with a best lap of 1:38.824 - a tenth of second faster than in qualifying which he obtained on his 27th of the 63 laps that he did, but Repsol Honda didn’t have anything new to test so the rookie and yesterday’s race winner Dani Pedrosa worked on traction and set-ups.
Most of the field also did their best laps before 2pm, with the exception of Valentino Rossi, Claudio Corti and Danilo Petrucci who bettered themselves in the afternoon.
Jorge Lorenzo changed his aggressive riding tatics when he was disqualifed from the Malaysian GP in 2005 after what he did to Alex De Angelis during the 250cc GP round at Motegi.
The injuries he sustained in his rookie year in MotoGP further changed his opinion on how to ride and he has become an advocate for safe and perfect overtakes, like his rival Dani Pedrosa.
However nothing disappears from the memory of racing fans, and thanks to the power of the web and YouTube, and you can see a 10-year old ‘Por Fuera,’ who will later become the four time world champion we know today, during the 1997 Copa Aprilia (50cc) at Jerez at the Ducados corner, now renamed Lorenzo’s corner, t-bone fellow rider Juan Olive and later say ‘it wasn’t very correct, but this is racing.”