Jorge Lorenzo, back in action in muted form only five weeks after breaking the scaphoid bone in his left wrist, claimed a stunning fifth-fastest time on the third and final day of tests at Qatar. This despite suffering pain and weakness, and being behind his rivals after missing the year’s first three-day test at Sepang.
Lorenzo should be back to full strength in time for the GP of the Americas in Texas on April 14. Until then, the injury may hamper his adaptation to the factory Repsol Honda.
But you would hardly know it, by the end of three days of rapid improvement at Losail. A second faster every day lifted him from a day one 21st place. Hence, Lorenzo feels more optimistic than when he switched from Yamaha to Ducati in 2017.
The five-time World Champion’s first acquaintance with the Honda at the end of last year had been hugely encouraging. He found the more compact size suited him better than the Ducati, and liked the overall feel.
At that stage, he was recovering from surgery to the same wrist after a mechanical failure caused a heavy crash at the Thai GP. But in January a tumble while dirt bike training caused a fracture in the scaphoid bone—a notoriously hard-to-heal and problematic injury.
Lorenzo had the wrist surgically repaired on January 21, but he did not participate in the first tests at Sepang. He was still not up to strength at Losail.
On the first day at Losail, he could manage only short runs and admitted the stress of braking was painful. But he shaved a full second off his time on day two and on the third another second. At least on single lap times, he was fully competitive in spite of his weakness.
Jorge Lorenzo and Making The Honda Fit
His first task had been to work on ergonomics, and after experimentation with seat cushions and other adjustments on day two, he said, “I get less tired, though we have some way to make it perfect,” he said.
He stopped early because of pain in the wrist, but noted good progress, especially with his riding position.
“We have started working on some set-ups that improve the bike. The feeling, the working with the bike. If we keep working like this, we are going to get closer.
“Little by little, we have to be patient, and we will get there.”
The point was proved by the end of the test.
“We improved a lot and are competitive. We have the potential to go very high. Although we have not enough time to be very ready for the first race, but if I am fit and we can improve some small details, we can be even stronger.”
The remarks are similar to his approach to Ducati, but after more than a year on the Italian bike, he transformed himself from also-ran to MotoGP race winner. The Honda will probably be less difficult, although his smoother style is significantly different from that of his teammate Marquez.
Lorenzo has taken a massive pay cut to join Honda, after creeping disillusionment on both sides at Ducati. His approach to HRC team chief Alberto Puig came before his first Ducati race win, by when it had become clear he was no longer wanted by the Italian factory.
Can Lorenzo Create History with Repsol Honda?
The Spaniard, who will turn 32 on May 4, stands to become only the fifth rider in history to win premier-class races on three different makes (joining Hailwood, Mamola, Lawson, and Capirossi). And if he were to win the championship, he’d be the first in history to take the premier-class title on three different makes of motorcycle. But to do so he will have to beat his new teammate, Marc Marquez. He did that, as recently as last year’s Austrian GP. But all other things being equal, Marquez’s six years of experience on the Honda RC213V will stand him in good stead.
For more MotoGP news and results, click here
For more Road Racing news and results, click here