Yamaha MotoGP boss Lin Jarvis says he still thinks Jorge Lorenzo “would have been an excellent test rider” for Yamaha had his programme not been scuppered by COVID-19.
Three-time MotoGP world champion Lorenzo returned to Yamaha in the winter following his retirement from racing at the end of 2019, but only tested the 2019 M1 four times this year.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Japanese-based test team was unable to come to Europe to carry out its planned programme, while Lorenzo didn’t ride any other form of motorcycle between February’s Sepang test and the Algarve outing in October – the latter ending with him four seconds off the pace.
He will be replaced by Cal Crutchlow, who stepped down from full-time racing at the conclusion of the 2020 season – though Yamaha’s move courted a backlash from Lorenzo.
Jarvis admits the lack of testing “handicapped” Yamaha in 2020, which was evidenced by the wildly inconsistent form of its riders this season.
“I think we’ve been handicapped also this year, we had a new bike spec with a new engine, a new chassis, but we have hardly done any testing apart from the official testing with the factory-contracted riders,” Jarvis said in response to a question from Autosport in Portugal.
“We started this year, we took Jorge Lorenzo on a contract and we had a full testing programme planned this year, but we were using the Japanese testing team with some European staff and Jorge.
“In reality, we only ran him for two days in Sepang and in the pre-Portimao test.
“So, all other activities we planned to do this year were unfortunately cancelled and that was negative for us and that affected us because we couldn’t work on the issues.
“I still think Jorge would have been an excellent test rider to do the job.”
Jarvis says Yamaha is “fully confident” it has made the correct choice in signing Crutchlow to be its test rider for 2021, and believes his feedback combined with that of the race riders will allow it to cure the grip issues 2020 M1 riders suffered throughout the season.
“Next year, taking Cal on board is a sign of our intention,” he added.
“We are fully confident we have made a very, very good choice with Cal. I believe Cal is a real worker, he’s really hungry to get stuck into this project.
“We’re not going to make the same mistake twice, we’re definitely going to be running a more intensive test programme next year and we believe with the engineering changes we have a lot of information from this year, so our engineers will change the chassis next year and they will work on improving this matter.
“Plus, Cal’s testing feedback and our own pre-season tests, we are quite confident we can fix this issue next year.”
Lorenzo confirmed last month he had an option to join Aprilia as test rider, though this seems to have gone cold as the Italian marque retains Bradley Smith and Lorenzo Savadori – both of whom will go head-to-head during the pre-season to decide who gets promoted to a race seat for 2021.
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