Causing a whole flurry of excitement in the paddock, all season and during the Valencia Test at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit less than 48 hours after winning the Gran Premio Motul de la Communitant Valencia, was Jorge Lorenzo after he decided to sign a two year contract and made his debut at the test.
Are all the questions answered?
Released with special permission from Movistar Yamaha for the test, as like other riders he is still contracted to the team and is unable to share any information about it, he donned his usual helmet, special leathers and set out on track for two days of testing on a black Ducati sporting his red number 99.
Since he signed the deal earlier on in the season, questions have been asked about the decision since. By the end of day one, a lot of those questions must have been answered, as he was the third quickest rider on track on his Ducati debut. Stealing his headline in a way though, was his replacement at Yamaha, Maverick Vinales as he was quickest on both days on Lorenzo’s old bike, and even managed to lap in the 1:29 minute area.
Lorenzo keen to put the Ducati through its paces
Keen to get things underway, and to probably cure that curiosity that he had as to whether he too had made the right decision, and surely just because he was dying to have a go, he was the first out on track during day one of testing. Surrounded by media and fans trying to get there first look, he exited the Ducati garage aboard the Desmosedici GP16 first.
Nervous pit crew surrounded the newbie
When he pitted for the first time, his new future crew surrounded him patiently as he took off his gloves and helmet, had a drink, took out his earplugs and sat down. He managed to keep his race face on throughout, and sat down and began informing them of how it felt.
His body language throughout the day confirmed that he was confident and happy with his decision; he spent a good time with former MotoGP champion Casey Stoner discussing the bike and getting on great. He seemed to focus on the seat position, and the team were seen making many adjustments to try and help the Spanish rider sit further back.
He finished the first day third overall, only completing flying laps on the GP16. He finally ventured out on the GP17 in the final stages of the session, but only completed the one lap (the little tease), most likely to ensure that it felt right ahead of day two.
Lorenzo finished the Valencia test in eight on his Ducati debut
He again was eager to start the next day of testing and was again the first rider out on track; again beginning with the GP6. Midway through the day he eventually made the switch to next seasons’ model, which he made three runs on before switching back, and was soon able to bring his lap times down. He finished the test, his debut with Ducati as eighth overall with a time of 1:30.744 (0.769seconds slower than Vinales on his debut), reducing his time from day one by 0.308 seconds, and completing 126 flying laps in total, which totalled over 500km.
Dovizioso made important comparisons between old and new
Also present at the test was his future teammate at Ducati, two times race winner, Andrea Dovizioso. The Italian had a very relaxed start to the session as he waited in the pits while his team helped Lorenzo to settle in. When he eventually ventured out it was to aboard the GP16, but Dovizioso spent a lot of time, 115 laps in fact, on track switching between the 2016 and 2017 model.
A lot of time was spent aboard the GP17, and then any changes he made to that back, he applied to the GP16 to compare the two towards the end of the test. After finishing as the fifth quickest on the first day, Dovizioso made his way up to third on the timesheet, finishing the test in the same position when the times were combined. His fastest lap of 1:30.443 came midway through his second day on lap 33 out of 61, and remained 0.301 seconds quicker than Lorenzo, and as the highest placed Ducati rider overall.
Lorenzo not permitted to discuss the test, yet
Lorenzo was unable to speak throughout or after the two days testing, and will not be permitted to do so until next season in Sepang, when he is no longer an employee of the Movistar Yamaha team. Dovizioso was able to analyse his two days though as he has renewed his contract with the same team.
Dovizioso discusses the importance of the two day test
Dovizioso knew how “important” the test were for Ducati as they “are the last ones [they] can do until the IRTA tests at Sepang at the end of January 2017". As a result of this he said they were “doing everything necessary to define the details of next year’s bike”. He felt that day one “went well” and after doing “several runs on the 2016 bike, both with and without the wings”. He found that when he switched to the new bike it “immediately proved to be very competitive” and this was confirmed by the fact they were able to “replicate virtually the same times”.
By the end of day two he spoke of how the “two days have been very interesting”. He confirmed they were “able to do some good tests with the new bike”, something that he revealed in the last few years has “not been possible”, and as a result he said they are “ahead with [their] planning”.
He confirmed that they “did a back-to-back comparison with the 2016 version at the end of the day” and that this was to “confirm [their] impressions” and to also “verify that the improvements were effective”. He feels that now they can “only get better” as he thinks the “new bike allows for a wider range of adjustments”, and he said that “this is the work that [they] will do next year”.
He feels that it is “important” for them as a team to return home “with clear ideas”, something they think they have been "able to achieve”. He said, “We confirmed the pace we showed during the race weekend, and even though we still have a lot of work to do, I am pleased with our new bike”.