MotoGP

‘No pain’ as Jorge Lorenzo matches Honda best on Yamaha return

Jorge Lorenzo takes just 44 laps on the Yamaha to almost match his 2019 Malaysian MotoGP qualifying time when he raced the Honda

Jorge Lorenzo has offered his first ‘re-assessment’ of the Yamaha M1 as he made his first appearance ‘in blue’ since the conclusion of the 2016 MotoGP season, revealing he is riding again without pain as he matched lap times at Sepang he managed on the Honda.

The Spaniard returns to the Yamaha fold he won his trio of world titles – and 44 of his 47 race wins - little more than three years after he departed to join Ducati.

Joining the latter portion of a three-day shakedown MotoGP test in Malaysia, Lorenzo completed 44 laps on the M1 and posted a best time of 2m 00.563 – just a tenth slower than his qualifying lap at the 2019 Malaysian MotoGP when he was riding with Honda.

Following a year beset by numerous injuries, Lorenzo admits he was concerned with how his body would fare after a day of riding but confirmed he feels fine.

Moreover, despite admitting he still has plenty of tuning to do to feel comfortable on the bike again, he was impressed with how familiar the machine felt.

“We just finished the day, the first day with the Yamaha for little over three years,” he said. “I was a little bit worried about some things, if the bike has changed some characteristics or that I have some pain or old injuries

“But honestly the back was not painful. It was very similar to the bike I left in 2016, the characteristics very similar and the bike itself is very friendly with the rider and the engine is very smooth.

“I felt at home from the beginning even if I still need some time of adaptation to be able to get the maximum of the bike. I need to change the style and find the limit to be faster.

Could Jorge Lorenzo start the Catalunya GP?

Yamaha went to surprising lengths to say Lorenzo doesn’t have any planned MotoGP wild-cards this year before saying it would be open to the possibility of some if he wanted to.

Indeed, while the question of wild-cards was always bound to be on the horizon the moment journalists get alone with him, the teasing statement has simply attracted more attention to it… and it’s easy to see why Lorenzo would be tempted.

Ducati, Suzuki and Aprilia have each made good use of third riders at selected events – usually on the eve of post-event tests – while KTM gave Dani Pedrosa the option of starting some races too, only for him to turn it down.

As such, should Lorenzo want to, Yamaha could definitely arrange a third M1 for Lorenzo for his home Catalunya GP, both the scene of his best qualifying in 2019 (prior to triggering a pile-up) and the first in-season test of the year.

Even if he does start, however, it’s unlikely we’d be seeing him right there with Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales as his role over the weekend would be to test development parts with the bonus of starting a race thrown in.

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