Jorge Lorenzo should be concerned at pre-season testing

PRE-SEASON testing will not decide the final destination of the 2013 MotoGP world title, but a spring of results dominated by Repsol Honda will not make for pretty reading for champion Jorge Lorenzo.

Not only have the intervening four-and-a-half months since the final race of 2012 in Valencia done little to slow down his in-form compatriot Dani Pedrosa, but they have also seen prodigal newcomer Marc Marquez continue his astonishing development.

The timesheets from the first two tests at Sepang in Malaysia made unpleasant but far-from-catastrophic viewing for Lorenzo.

The Yamaha man finished second to Pedrosa on all three days, with Marquez securing third twice, and new teammate Valentino Rossi third on the final day.

Pedrosa then pipped Lorenzo on a wet track on the first day of the second test, before the pair swapped places in similar conditions on day two. On the only dry day, Pedrosa sealed top spot with Marquez second, Lorenzo third and Rossi fourth.

The Hondas then dominated in America, with Marquez fastest on all three days at what he described as a ‘fictitious test’ at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, with Pedrosa second on each occasion.

At Jerez – the most ‘European’ in style of all three tracks visited – Lorenzo topped the timing sheets on day one followed by Pedrosa and Marquez, albeit in the wet.

Rossi then pipped Lorenzo on day two, before Crutchlow led the pair home on a wet day three.

Other than a disappointing test in the States – after which even Lorenzo admitted the team had to ‘gain some motivation’ from somewhere – the man from Mallorca’s times have not been all that bad.

The 25-year-old was second-fastest on five occasions and was also quickest on two test days, although they both occurred on a wet track – a performance leveller.

That in itself will not be of undue concern to Yamaha – Lorenzo’s last world title came from a steady accumulation of podium spots rather than a plethora of eye-catching victories.

But what should be a concern is the impressive pace of the Hondas.

Excluding Austin – where he was nursing a neck injury – Pedrosa topped the timing sheets on five out of nine test days, although interestingly not one of those came in the most recent three-day spell at a comparatively tight Jerez circuit.

Marquez dominated in Texas on a track which none of the riders had experienced before, while it must also be remembered that the 1000cc machine is a very different beast to his 600cc Moto2 mount he has ridden for the past two seasons.

Yamaha’s showing at Jerez rightly seems to have restored some optimism in the team, with Lorenzo, Rossi and Cal Crutchlow all sharing the top slots over three days, and the trio securing a Yamaha lockout at the top on the final day.

But, over the course of all three tests – four including Austin – Honda certainly appear to have the edge, and that does not bode well for Lorenzo ahead of the curtain-raiser at a high-speed and not-particularly technical Losail circuit in Qatar.

A final aspect of the forthcoming campaign that may be of concern to the current champion is the calibre of competition who will be vying for Lorenzo’s crown.

Pedrosa may never have won a senior world title, but his blistering form at the end of 2012 shows no signs of abating as we cross into 2013, and the diminutive Spaniard showed glimpses last year of a new resilience not always evident in previous title tilts.

Few who have watched Moto2 can doubt Marquez’s extraordinary talent, and even those who do not monitor the second tier only need to cast a glance at his miraculous start at Valencia last year to understand his ability.

Mastering a 1000cc machine will take some practice, but the rate at which the 20-year-old is progressing suggests he will be a force to be reckoned with when the lights go out in Doha.

Even a 34-year-old Rossi is likely to keep Lorenzo honest at Yamaha, and the veteran Italian has shown that two predictably disappointing years at Ducati have not slowed him down.

All things considered, the next MotoGP world champion is still a long way from being decided, but Lorenzo will know an improvement will be required to stand any chance of repelling what will likely be a twin-pronged Honda assault for his title.

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