Jorge Lorenzo says he surprised himself by convincingly topping both Friday practice sessions for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix as title rival Valentino Rossi struggled for pace.
Despite suffering a sprained shoulder last weekend, Lorenzo showed little sign of nursing his injury during the first day at Motegi, topping FP1 by four tenths from Andrea Iannone before edging Dani Pedrosa in the latter session by just over a tenth.
“It was a surprising day, because I didn‘t expect to be so competitive, especially in the morning,” said Lorenzo.
“I expected to improve little by little, but starting from the first run I was the fastest rider and I improved even more on the last outing.”
Ahead of the weekend, Lorenzo shrugged off any suggestions he would be held back by his shoulder injury, although the Spaniard believes he could have gone even faster without it.
“Obviously my shoulder isn‘t perfect,” he admitted, “but even with my shoulder in this condition I‘m still able to ride and be quite consistent.
“I believe that with normal physical conditions I could have been even faster, but there‘s no point in thinking about what could have happened.
“It‘s better to focus on the current situation and take the maximum profit. For tomorrow we still have a margin to improve the bike to suit my riding.”
Rossi suffers on softer tyre
While Lorenzo set the pace, Rossi struggled at a circuit that historically is not one of his strongest, lagging four tenths off the pace in FP1 before dropping eight tenths back in FP2 after switching to the softer option rear tyre.
“This morning was not so bad and also in the afternoon I felt quite good with the harder tyre,” explained the Italian.
“I expected to improve more when I put on the softer option at the end, but unfortunately this didn‘t happen because we‘re not good with the setting yet and have to work a bit further.
“At the end of the practice everybody puts in new tyres and already the lap times are very quick and faster than last year, so we have to work hard and try to stay at the top.”