Jorge Lorenzo's two seasons at Ducati have truly been a roller-coaster. The three-time MotoGP champion went from a consistent front runner to struggling mid-pack. By the end of his first season, Lorenzo was starting to look competitive, leading races at the Red Bull Ring, Misano, Aragon, and Sepang, and scoring a couple of podiums.
A new bike was supposed to turn better and make his life easier, yet Lorenzo seemed to struggle once again in the first half of 2018. From the beginning of the season, it looked like Lorenzo's time at Ducati was over, and would be considered a failure. Then, Ducati brought a redesigned fuel tank to Mugello, and Lorenzo's fortunes were transformed, winning two races in a row at Mugello and Barcelona, and suddenly being a force to be reckoned with at pretty much every race.
But it was too late. Minds had already been made up before Mugello. Ducati had decided to move on from Lorenzo, and Lorenzo had decided to switch to the Repsol Honda team for 2019. The apogee of Lorenzo's time at Ducati was also his swan song there.
At Aragon, I spoke to Jorge Lorenzo about the wild ride he has had aboard the Ducati Desmosedici. He spoke frankly about the lessons he learned about himself, about adapting to the bike and changing his riding style, and his struggle to make Ducati understand what he needed to be faster. He described the differences between the Yamaha and the Ducati, and what he expects when he moves to Honda. And he talked about how he kept himself going in the face of adversity.
Q: What have you learned at Ducati? What was the big lesson that you learned? It’s been such an interesting, emotional, up-and-down time.
Jorge Lorenzo: A lot of lessons. Probably the first one is that we underestimated the change from Yamaha to Ducati. We thought that it would be more easy, that with my normal style, with the same style I was using in Yamaha I could be competitive also with the Ducati. I wasn’t right. I needed to change completely.
Q: Why did you think that? A lot of us felt from all the way being told that it would be difficult. You must have followed the Ducati around previously on the Yamaha and seen the way that it was being ridden?
JL: It's one thing to see it from the outside and another thing to go onto the bike and to feel everything. To feel the limitations, to feel that the bike is telling you that you cannot trust to enter the corner in the same way. So they were just completely opposite bikes.
Firstly starting from the engine. The Yamaha engine is so smooth, from the bottom, the first touch, to the high RPM. The Ducati is the opposite. The first touch is not very clean, it’s like a bomb, aggressive. Then when the RPM goes high, the bike becomes very nervous.
Secondly, the braking. The Ducati is very stable on the brakes. Also very stable when you start to block the rear. You can block the rear with a lot of confidence. So you need to take profit of all this stability and all this confidence in braking to make the lap time just on braking. Instead the Yamaha is not very stable on braking, and you need to brake much before and release the brake very quick to take profit of the smooth engine and the chassis and the corner speed.
So, these two things are completely opposite. Even that, I needed to use the rear brake so much that I almost never used with the Yamaha.
Third part, I could not lean with the Ducati. With the Ducati, in that area, it's the only bike that in certain margins, certain levels of lean angle, the more that you lean, the less that you turn. It's the only bike in the world that happens this. But in certain areas is like that. At certain levels of lean, you turn less. With a normal bike, the more you lean, the more you turn, but not with the Ducati.
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