Lorenzo: Honda was never going to be a natural bike

Jorge Lorenzo moves to play down a report suggesting Honda may dispense with his services at the close of 2019 should his results not improve; “It's important that we understand that this is going to be a long process.”
Lorenzo: Honda was never going to be a natural bike

Jorge Lorenzo has brushed off a report stating HRC would be willing to dispense with his services at the end of 2019 should he not overcome his current struggles, saying it was nothing more than a “rumour” that comes about when “the situation is bad.”

The 32-year old has endured a torrid opening to life as rider in the Repsol Honda team, the current holders of MotoGP’s Triple Crown, with a succession of injuries, misfortune and difficulty adapting to the RC213V hampering his speed. He has scored just eleven points from four races, a contrast to team-mate Marc Marquez’s 70.

But Lorenzo stressed it was always going to take time, as it did during his previous experience of adaptation with Ducati. “It’s not going to come naturally,” he said before likening his current situation to Johann Zarco, who is enduring similar hardship after switching to KTM.

“The patience a team has is not up to me, and I can't change it,” Lorenzo said on Thursday. “What I know is I have a two year contract. It's important that we understand that this is going to be a long process.

“It's not going to come naturally, as it did on other occasions, or as it might come to another rider when they change to a new bike or a different category. Every small bit of progress is a step closer to our objective, and we have to celebrate each bit of progress like a small victory. With time and with kilometers we will find something positive, and things will get better.

“The Honda is never going to be a natural bike for me. The Honda is the Honda. It's a bike that needs to be ridden by braking very late, getting the rear wheel crossed up, tipping the bike in quickly, and at a big lean angle.

“That's never going to be a natural bike for me. But the same was true of the Ducati, it wasn't a natural bike for me. So I need more time to adapt.

“The same could be happening to Zarco, for example, because when he got on the Yamaha, he could get away at the front in the first race, and on the KTM he's one of the last. This is the difference between a natural bike and a bike which is 'anti-natural' in MotoGP now, which is becoming a very equal category.”

Does this kind of pressure provide extra motivation? “It doesn't matter to me, as you can see from my past,” he said.

“I went through situations which were very bad, and when I got on the bike and switched to race mode, I performed the same with pressure or when I was calm. I don't think what happens on track depends on things at that level.”

Responding directly to Thursday's report in Spanish sports daily AS that Honda has intimated it would seek out a replacement for the Majorcan for 2020 if his strife continued through the year, Lorenzo insisted “nobody has given me an ultimatum.”

“I don't know,” he said. “You can always hear these kinds of rumours when the situation is bad, when your results are not positive. Personally, nobody has ever given me an ultimatum, nobody has ever talked to me about this subject.

“Both parties know that in this situation, the connection between bike and rider is more complicated than we hoped to be able to get the results we expected. We are going to need more time.

“It isn't a natural connection with the bike, and we need more time. But I never have anyone say the word ultimatum to me, or anything like it.”

The five-time world champion had the opportunity to correct some of his bike’s failings from the Spanish Grand Prix at the post-race test at Jerez. However his day ended badly thanks to a fast off at turn seven in the session’s closing minutes.

On whether he had regained confidence last Monday, Lorenzo countered, “Well it's not that I lost confidence. It's that I finished with a result I didn't expect. I expected a better weekend. But somehow we couldn't manage to make it.

“At the Monday test, I tried many things, I did many laps. Some of the things I tried, particularly a pair of them, they gave me a little bit more confidence. Not spectacular, but a little bit more confidence.

“And my goal is to go here in dry conditions and to make a little step. That for me would be a little victory, to get closer to my real goal, which is to fight for podiums and for victories.”