In less than two-weeks time Jorge Lorenzo will be back in action with his fellow MotoGP riders for the first round of the 2014 Championship, that will be held in Qatar on March 23th. The Spanish rider, guest star in the launch of the 2014 Sector advertising campaign in Madrid, gave this exclusive interview to GPone.com.
Last year in Qatar you posted an impressive race pace leading a Yamaha 1-2 clean sweep. How difficult will be to do that again in a fortnight?
"Much more difficult. Yet we don't know which everyone's real level is. In the pre-season Marquez went very fast before he got injured and the same you can say of Pedrosa, Valentino, Bradl and Bautista. Ducati had a good pace as well and we shall see how the new Open category goes. Difficult to make any (prediction) yet".
The preseason was a mix of light and shadow for you. Struggling in Malaysya, dominating in Australia. How is the tires' situation so far?
"In Malaysia I had some issues with the new 2014-spec: the tires were too stiff for the slippery Sepang's tarmac and I was slow, one second slower than I should. Only the Hondas could go fast. In Australia it went a lot better. I believe the main problem for us was the Malaysian track itself".
What does Yamaha need to achieve the competitiveness' level of Honda?
"Difficult to say, it depends on several circumstances. I guess they are half a step ahead of us regarding the "feeling" (the riders have with the bike). The last year, Assen and a couple of other tracks apart, they were faster than us everywhere. They are definitely better than us during braking, an area we absolutely have to work on".
Marquez will arrive in Qatar having done a single test in the preseason. Do you think it will make a problem for him?
"Well, missing two testing sessions clearly don't help him but I have no idea about his actual level of form. Surely he has trained and will be fast nevertheless".
After the Australian testing session Valentino said he's going to be competitive this year. Do you think he will be able to keep up with your pace and that of Marquez and Pedrosa?
"Yes, I think so. I see him faster and more consistent than the last year and his feeling with the bike is improved as well. I think Valentino has all the possibilities to win".
Would you like to share the garage with him also the next year or would you prefer another teammate?
"It's something that doesn't depends on me and I don't know his intentions or Yamaha's. I get along well with him and sharing the same garage is good. I think Valentino is one of the greatest riders in the history and there's always something to learn from such champions".
Many foresee a Marquez-Lorenzo duel in 2014. Do you as well?
"We won't know it before we do five races. There will probably be other riders in the fight but it's difficult to say it now".
The last year Marquez crashed a lot but he was lucky. You just once but it was enough...
"Marquez has been very good, there are no doubts about that. Then you can say that he was luckier than me and Pedrosa because we fell three times and we paid high for it, he crashed fifteen times and escaped with a injured finger. But you definitely cannot say it was just a matter of luck for Marquez winning the title: he wouldn't have won it if he weren't so strong and fast".
This year all the top riders contracts' expire. Do you expect an offer from Honda? How would you like having Marquez's same bike?
"I think that Honda, Yamaha and Ducati this year will approach the strongest riders. That is how it always was and that is how it is and will be".
The Opens were surprising during the preseason, with Aleix Espargaro among the front runners in every test. Do you think they will be a threat just in qualifying or in the race as well?
"In both. I think the Open (bikes) will be able to battling up front. We will see".
The MotoGP rules are continuously changed. Do you think it's a right thing to do?
"Dorna gave to the Open class some big advantages. Maybe they are too many, we hope not. Honda and Yamaha would stick with the development of their-own ECU-software but there is a real risk that the Open class become the best benchmark of the MotoGP class".
Did you expect such an improvement from Dovizioso and Ducati?
"Andrea is a good rider, he has a huge experience. He was impressive both in Malaysia and in Australia. I think that together with Dall'Igna he will improve the bike a lot".
How will you spend these ten days before the first race?
"I'll train as much as possible, because I must be ready from the very beginning".
As a soccer's fan do you think that it's more likely the "Blaugrana" win the Championship or Lorenzo conquers his third MotoGP title?
"I don't know. Barcelona surely has a tough task to face. I would like mine being easier but I know it won't".
This year Valentino will run a Moto3 team. Would you also like to be both an entrepreneur and a rider in the same time?
"Actually I'm an entrepreneur with a brand of glasses to be sold on-line. It's possible that I'll do as Valentino in the future but for the moment I prefer not to think about it".
The MotoGP misses Casey Stoner. Did you remain in touch?
"Not that much. Let's say it happens we get in touch. The last year he came to the Australia GP and we could speak at length, but it's not as we are talking every week".