By the conclusion of Friday practice for the opening Qatar round, three of the top four riders were running under Open regulations – which allow concessions such as more race fuel and a softer rear tyre relative to the Factory class.
The Open class has been headlined by Alex Espargaro, unbeaten so far in Qatar practice, whose Forward Yamaha uses an older version of Lorenzo’s YZR-M1 engine, chassis and swing-arm.
“As I said one or two months ago, I think that the Open class has too much of an advantage,” commented double MotoGP champion Lorenzo. “I think that the change was necessary to create a better show for the fans but I think that in the future the championship should be more equal.
“I think that is the goal and it is for this reason we have thee Open class bikes in the first places. It is going to be difficult because they have 0.5s advantage with the soft tyre but what really worries us is their race pace.
“Aleix and Iannone with our tyre are faster than us and this worries us and is difficult to understand. With the added fuel the bike is maybe easier in the corners. The Factories invest millions of Euros and at this moment we are being beaten by a non-factory team with much less investment, so it’s strange for us and the public to understand.
“But I don’t want to take anything away from Aleix, a lot of riders are riding the Open bikes and he is the fastest one and he is in a very good shape. But as I said before the Open class has too much advantage.”
MotoGP’s Open rules, for any teams running the standard ECU software plus the recently winless Ducati entries, are due to remain in place until the start of 2016 when all teams will switch to a standard ECU system.
Lorenzo’s Open concerns have been compounded by his continued grip problems on the new heat resistant Bridgestone rear tyres, which saw the reigning double Qatar winner outside of the practice top ten until the closing stages of the evening.
The Movistar Yamaha rider eventually snatched seventh position, 0.722 behind Aleix Espargaro, but insists the safety aspect of the tyre characteristics must be addressed – highlighting the big accidents for satellite Yamaha riders of Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro.
“Obviously I am disappointed about my performance but what worries me is the crashes that we saw Pol and Bradley have. I didn’t see the video from practice but a high-side is very dangerous with these bikes.
“Performance is important but we are much worse with this tyre compared to last year’s tyre but what really worries me is the safety. Today I risked a lot, in acceleration today I’ve probably never risked as much as today. So we will try and work together with Bridgestone and the other riders to find the best solution for everyone.”
When asked by Crash.net about what feedback he has been giving Bridgestone throughout the weekend, Lorenzo said that his hope is that the Japanese tyre manufacturer can provide a tyre that works for the entire grid rather than only some bikes.
“I hope to have a tyre that works for Honda, Ducati and Yamaha and everyone is happy and can ride safe with a good feeling. This would be the perfect situation and I will try and work together with all the riders to try and change this situation. I haven’t had time to talk to the other riders yet but I think that Valentino and Pedrosa have more or less the same feeling. For some bikes, maybe the Honda with less corner speed, it is better but it’s not the same as last year.”
Team-mate Valentino Rossi, who has also tipped Aleix Espargaro as favourite for Sunday’s race, was only tenth quickest.