One year ago, he was on the highest step of the podium. Mugello 2018 remains an indelible memory in Jorge Lorenzo's mind. Total domination for the Majorcan who stole the spotlight, leaving only crumbs for his rivals. Many things have changed in the last 365 days though.
Yes, as #99 is now trying to tame a Honda, a bike that is really putting him to the test. And yet he has no intention of giving up.
“I arrive in Mugello with better sensations than I had at the start of the season – starts Lorenzo - unfortunately I have to deal with various problems, having missed winter testing which complicated things. I will say that we've taken a step forward since Jerez, though too small a step to be able to fight for the win. Right now, it's difficult to think about fighting for the top step of the podium come Sunday. What's important is to take another step, particularly in terms of corner entry, and try to work well”.
The Italian race will come as yet another event on his growth path.
“Rather than only at Mugello, I want to try and be competitive all season long, not at only one track. My aim is to reach a point where I'm constantly fighting for the podium, maybe the win. Right now it's difficult to change the bike, especially in terms of corner entry where I have to modify my riding style compared to the Ducati, which is the opposite. I can say that we've done something, particularly regarding the bike's ergonomics”.
For someone like Lorenzo it can't be easy playing the part of spectator.
“When you've won a lot in the past, it's difficult to accept being far from the frontrunners. It was like that in Ducati and it's like it again now. but I want to continue to work, and try to be positive. I can say that I'm understanding a great deal about how to change my style, using my head and experience”.
Your apprenticeship with the Japanese bike appears even more complicated than it was with the red bike.
“In previous years I was able to lead the race for the first few laps, but then I started to struggle physically. I'm struggling in terms of speed now, much more than I did with the Ducati. I'm talking about sheer speed, not making a comparison with Marquez. My aim is not to match Marc, seeing as he has significant experience with the bike, seven years of experience. Rather, I need to move closer to Crutchlow, perhaps that's more realistic. The Honda has great potential and I have to try to improve the way I enter the turns”.
Right now, the Japanese bike seems tailor made for #93.
“This is the character of the bike, Honda is winning with Marc and it would be stupid to change the bike's character for me. I have to focus on working, aware that when you change bike it takes time to adapt. That was also the case in the past with the Ducati, maybe not with the Yamaha, as that bike's simpler in that respect”.
It's also true that Lorenzo and the Honda are still far from reaching their full potential. Marc, meanwhile, has taken giant steps forward, particularly in terms of the engine.
“In terms of top speed, the bike has definitely improved compared to 2018, and this makes for good acceleration. Perhaps in terms of grip Ducati has a little more than use, but the bike has taken big steps forward yes. Marc has a done a great job, he knew how to change his style and is making the most of the bike's strong points”.