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Jorge Lorenzo Sepang official test

1-0 to Lorenzo? Ducati aces scorches to first MotoGP headlines of 2018

Feb 072018

The prologue for 2018 MotoGP began on a tantalising note with the very first official test of the pre-season period at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. Cloistering heat enveloped the paddock as much as the feeling of expectation: this was the initial rundown on new parts, ideas and hopes for a nineteen round Grand Prix term to come.

Over the course of three days and hundreds of laps, spells of rain and varying levels of grip, there were curious signs for the Yamaha-mounted trio of Valentino Rossi, Maverick Viñales and Johann Zarco, prosperous tools for HRC’s Cal Crutchlow and, of course, sensational and exciting developments for Jorge Lorenzo.

The charismatic former world champion (one of just three riders to have ruled MotoGP since the start of the decade) set the fastest ever lap of the Sepang circuit by a motorcycle in optimum conditions on the final day of activity. #99 had spent 2017 learning the Ducati while the Italian factory observed how the fearsome Desmosedici could be tweaked and morphed to help the 30 year old’s rapier corner speed. Of all the manufacturers that have been beavering away in the winter months and through the MotoGP testing ‘black out’ through December/January it was Ducati that seemed to have enriched their formula with #99 and the stopwatch didn’t lie. “I leave Sepang very satisfied with the work that we have done over the last three days, not only because of the time that I set today, but also because I’m convinced that many aspects of the bike have improved since last year,” JL said. “Now I feel it’s better adapted to my riding style and I feel more at home when I’m riding it, but we still have to understand a few things to be able to get the best out of its potential.”


Lorenzo was also cautious not to get too carried away in tossing the first gauntlet at the MotoGP grid. Further work and experiments will take place at the Buriram circuit in Thailand (the series first adjourn to the country set to occur in October for round fifteen) and at Losail, Qatar on March 1st – host of the season opener two weeks later. “We are only at the start of the year but the sensations are already good and now it will be important to confirm them in the next test in Thailand.”

Monster Yamaha Tech3 were encouraged by Zarco’s feeling as the ex-Moto2 World Champion looks to set to light a longer flame in his second MotoGP term. The French squad were rocked by the late withdrawal of Jonas Folger from the entire 2018 season in early January as the German struggles to recover from a debilitating illness but gave Columbian Yonny Hernandez mileage on the M1 and will draft 23 year old Malaysian Hafizh Syahrin to trial for the vacant seat in the weeks to come. “The new aerodynamics package from Yamaha was great, it gives us more stability and therefore, it is less physically demanding," said Zarco, getting specific on some of the 2018 mods. “I will work with it during the year, depending on the track, but with it I think we can have a good front contact and stability almost everywhere.”

MotoGP won’t be struggling for news and surprises in the coming weeks and months.