Casey Stoner is the world’s fastest and most accomplished test rider in his current role for Ducati. But after picking the brain of Stoner and fellow Ducati test rider Michele Pirro during the test Jan. 31-Feb. 2 at Sepang, three-time premier class World Champion Jorge Lorenzo will rely on Pirro to coach him through his first season with the Boys from Bologna.
Lorenzo shaved 1.582 seconds from his best lap on the first day of the test to his top lap on the final day, dropping from 2:01.349 to 1:59.767. The unique handling characteristics of the Desmosedici GP17 bike forced Lorenzo to change his geometrically ideal riding style.
Spanish superstar Lorenzo generated speed on the Yamaha by doing most of his braking before the corner and then carrying speed through the corner as the bike turned. The Ducati begs a rider to brake more deeply and carry less speed through the apex, as the notoriously finicky front end of the Italian machines won’t stick and turn with rising corner apex speed.
While Stoner provided plenty of tips to Lorenzo, the Spaniard told assembled media at the test he was very impressed with the trackside advice provided by Pirro. So much so that Lorenzo has hired Pirro as his coach this season, a role previously fulfilled by former 250 Grand Prix rider Wilco Zeelenberg.
“Wilco is amazing, as a person and as an explainer,” Lorenzo said. “He explains very well and I became world champion also thanks to him.
“I’m very surprised with Michele because finally we decided to have him as a track analyst because he rides the same bike as me and also with competitive lap times.
“He knows exactly what to do to adapt yourself very quickly, because he stayed here four or five years, and at the beginning, he felt more or less the same as me, because he also prefers to have corner speed.
“So he gave me advice, and finally, using his advice works on the track. So very happy with Michele, and we will form a great team in the future.”
Stoner may capture most of the limelight and headlines – all of which he detests – with his eye-popping speed for Ducati. But Lorenzo’s high esteem for Pirro underlines the endless slog of hard, mind-numbing laps the Italian has turned to help develop the Desmosedici since he became the team’s official test rider in 2013.