Scarperia e San Piero, Tuscany, Italy.
Jorge Lorenzo explains background to his breakthrough first MotoGP win for Ducati at Mugello in 2018, having already signed to join Honda the following year.
The two-week period covering the 2018 French and Italian MotoGPs was arguably the most dramatic of Jorge Lorenzo‘s career.
The five-time world champion left Le Mans just 14th in the world championship and unsure of his racing future, with Danilo Petrucci poised to take over his Ducati seat in 2019.
But in the following days, Lorenzo not only received the parts needed to increase his corner speed and save energy on the Desmosedici, but clinch a secret two-year deal with Honda and then win Ducati’s home event at Mugello.
So how did it all happen?
“In 2018, I was the rider who had the best starts, braked later than anyone and put the bike upright first to use all of Ducati’s power, meaning I accelerated the best. But I suffered from the same problem again and again.
“I had arm fatigue during the races and that made me slow my pace very much and also a turning problem that made the front wheel not want to turn in the same way as the rear.
“Supposedly this was caused by the aerodynamics, those large wings that Ducati had, which made a type of turbulence in the middle of the corner, at maximum lean, and with worn tyres it made it very difficult.
“At Le Mans I managed to escape for 6-7-8-9 laps, but finally I gave up due to the pace of the riders behind me…. Eventually finishing 6th, 10-seconds behind Marc Marquez and getting just 16 points from four races, which put me 14th in the standings.
“As if this wasn’t enough Petrucci, whom many practically placed as my substitute at Ducati, finished second, achieving one of his best races, and was fifth overall.”
While Lorenzo had made an even worse start to the season than in his debut Ducati campaign, team-mate Andrea Dovizioso – who had fought Marc Marquez until the final round of 2017 – won again at the start of 2018.
Lorenzo was well aware that his time at Ducati looked to be nearing an end but was desperately short of alternatives.