The days of Jorge Lorenzo setting fastest laps, and setting new lap records has come and gone.It isn’t easy saying such a negative thing about one of our all time favorite pilots, but the truth is plain to see. Jorge has finished day 3 at PI AUS and with a time 8th best overall and just a tenth behind his team mate Dovizioso.
When Lorenzo said he was no longer going to be with Yamaha and would be riding for Ducati. I immediately knew that he had made a mistake that most likely would cost him. For years I thought that he might be able to challenge the record number of championships. But in many ways he has made a decision that will impact his entire career and end his chances to win the prize of 10 championships. No longer will he be able to challenge Rossi’s record number of championships, his statistical average will drop from Hall of Fame numbers to average rider numbers. We see plenty of riders out performing him on the Ducati, so what is the problem with Lorenzo and Ducati?
The testing has shown that Bautista, Barbera and Petrucci can do well despite having older versions of the Ducati, (A fact he himself mentioned in an interview on day 3) so why can’t Lorenzo show more ability on the Ducati? Your guess is as good as ours. I am reminded of the most recent MotoGP documentary, “Hitting the Apex.” Even two years ago it was clear that when Casey was riding the Ducati it was getting worse and worse.. I think that is the case again… the GP16 was the best it has ever been, and as good as it gets. With the lack of wings and added down force, the Duke is just not as stable in the turns, secondly while last year the Ducati was the fastest in the straights… other teams have had a chance to close that gap to nearly nothing.
I also wonder why Lorenzo has not done more laps in the first two days?? (He did finish strong on day 3 with 75 laps which was an improvement from the first two days. Other riders have put in near 100 laps. The answer may seem insulting, but that is not the intention. Is it that Lorenzo is a Prima-Donna??? We think not. The question then is while he has ridden one of the top performing bikes for so long, can he no longer ride a lesser bike? Whereas Bautista and others have been riding lesser bikes the Ducati seems like a step up for them… in their eyes they can do more! Is it just a mental roadblock… one that Lorenzo apparently cannot deal with. We have seen him struggle mentally before… in the rain. And with the switch away from Bridgestone… it seems he can be overly sensitive.
One would expect Lorenzo to need time to adapt the new bike. Everyone says that it is “so different” that his lack of progress is understandable. Why then is he not putting in the same number of laps as other riders . While watching the live timing we see that he does a few and gets off. Obviously he feels that just doing laps is not going to help him get accustomed to the bike. Perhaps Lorenzo feels it would be a waste of time to do laps when the bike is sliding outside of his comfort range. That sliding style that suit Casey Stoner so well, the sliding and slightly reckless style that served Iannone so well last year. Achiving that style is the real challenge. Winning races on the Ducati is what everyone talks about.. but the real challenge for Jorge will be to improvise, adapt and change his style to suit the Ducati.
Time is quickly running out and it seems clear to us here at CSR that Lorenzo and Ducati are in trouble. You might argue that it is too early to say such things.. however, with nearly 6 days of testing complete the results and interviews indicate that the challenge is going to far more difficult than he ever expected.
The first time that Cal Crutchlow rode that bike he said it was a “piece of shit”. Rossi struggled with it for years. It nearly ended Hayden’s career, and it did end Ben Spies. Lorenzo has to break the mental barrier, because he will never be able to duplicate the style of Stoner and the Italians are too stubborn to completely retool the bike from scratch. Can Lorenzo do it? The odds say no and definitely not in time for Qatar.
My wife says he has Lorenzo has Jinxed himself by changing his logo from a red and white 99 with a halo and horns to the two red and horned 99. Either way we wish him the best luck… but it seems for now that Dovizioso is going to be the lead rider in the Ducati box.