Lorenzo confident after Sepang record

Jorge Lorenzo believes he can challenge for the MotoGP championship in the new season if he can reproduce his speed from Sepang after ending the three days of testing with the fastest time.

The Ducati rider and five-time world champion set a new lap record of 1m 58.830s on Tuesday on his new Desmosedici GP18, beating Marc Marquez’s 2015 record by 0.037s.

Dani Pedrosa came in in second place on the Honda, just under two tenths back from Lorenzo while LCR’s Cal Crutchlow came in third.

Lorenzo’s performance on the much-improved Ducati suggests the Majorcan could be in with a shout in 2018 after a disappointing first year with the Italian team.

“As we see from last year, the tyres have a lot of influence from one track to another,” Lorenzo said. “The championship is very close. Four or five brands are very competitive. From one track to another, some brands can be ahead of the other ones, and at the next tracks, the opposite.

“So for this track the new bike is better to be fast for one lap. We have to see for all the race because we didn’t have the chance to make a full simulation. The feelings are very good. As I told you on the first day, this bike gives me more confidence and it’s more adapted to my riding.

“The bike turns better and I can open the throttle before. Finally if the bike itself turns better and you can open the throttle better, you can be faster. Let’s say that during the last year, I made 80 percent and now during this winter to this test, as I predicted, Ducati made the difference this time.”

Asked whether he had a chance of taking the title this year, Lorenzo preferred to stay non-committal.

“I think you cannot predict something like that for the moment,” he said. “To win a world title you need a lot of things.”

“If we are the same [speed] as we are today, for sure,” he added.