5-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo shocked the world of MotoGP when he announced he would be moving to the Repsol Honda Team for the 2019 MotoGP World Championship season. Having spent around a year and half coming to grips with his Factory Ducati it had seemed a match made in heaven, even winning Ducati’s home race at Mugello. However, as the relationship with Ducati deteriorated, Lorenzo turned his attention to a new challenge, with Japanese giant, Honda. Lorenzo has spent his time attempting to perfect his setup to best suit his smooth riding style. Whilst showing glimmers of hope throughout the first 6 rounds of the season, he has yet to finish in a top 10 position.
Alberto Puig, Repsol Honda team manager, said the purpose of the trip to HRC headquarters was to allow Lorenzo direct communication with the factory technicians as they work towards “solving his riding position” and feeling with the RC213V.
Having won the race at Mugello just 1 year ago, to being almost 21 seconds behind the race winner, in 13th position, it’s clear to see that Lorenzo is having some trouble gelling with his RC213V.
“We have decided to try improving Jorge’s ergonomic problems by organising a trip to Japan. We thought it was a good idea to talk directly with the engineers and to analyse more deeply the problems he is having, trying to get a better position for him on the bike.” Puig commented.
“Jorge is still struggling; he needs to find the compromise with the bike and has to keep working. He is staying focused and remaining motivated and this is important.”
“It was also important to check the improvements we have made to our machine on a Ducati track (Mugello), which is a circuit all about top speed and power.”
Lorenzo conceded that the changes made to his RC213V for the Italian Grand Prix had failed.
“I didn’t have the pace and wasn’t comfortable on the bike to be more competitive. We made a change in the Warm Up and it improved some areas. Not better or worse than we expected but neither myself or Honda give up on making progress and finding a solution together.”
What Lorenzo is wanting from the Honda is better support during hard braking, when riders pull around 1.5g. He suffered the same type of problem at Ducati, and this was fixed by a bulbous attachment to the rear of the GP18’s tank cover. So far with Honda, Lorenzo has tried modified fuel tank covers, different seat configurations, different handlebars and different foot peg positions.
“Now I will go to Japan to work with Honda on some improvements to come back stronger.”
Working at HRC’s Asaka factory will allow Lorenzo to making much faster progress with ergonomics. He and the HRC engineers can work together to try to rectify the issues he is having, as the engineers will have the facilities to make immediate adjustments. They also have access to 3D printers, to generate potential seat, tank and bodywork modifications.
The most important component in this development process will be a new fairing, most likely designed to help Lorenzo use his knees to support himself during heavy braking. The Repsol Honda team were expecting this updated fairing after the #CatalanGP. Lorenzo’s visit to HRC could potentially speed this process up. It is vital that Honda have the modifications for the fairing correct the 1st time as the MotoGP Aerodynamic Regulations allow each rider only 1 aero update per season.
There are no doubts that HRC will be working hard with Lorenzo to solve the issues he has been having. We will wait to see what HRC bring to the #CatalanGP and the test following the race weekend.
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