We are in a real ‘catch 22’ situation at the moment because on Friday afternoon I was dead chuffed. We’d gone back to the bike I’d had at the beginning of the season with a few improvements. At the end of the day I was fourth fastest, the quickest Yamaha and everything looked very good.
It was not a good idea to completely destroy the number one bike in a crash early on Friday morning and the setting changes we tried at Jerez and Le Mans resulted in three front end crashes. They gave me a false sense of security and I could not feel the limit of safety and would push and push when without warning that limit would disappear and bite me.
I complained about a few rear grip issues on Friday afternoon and we chased around all day on Saturday to sort it out. Fair play to the team they threw as much as they could at the bike but we could just not find the solution to sort out the grip.
If I’m entirely honest it may not be a suspension issue. There is a good chance it’s about weight distribution. With my size and my riding style I’m crowding too much over the front of the bike especially in the middle of the corner. At Le Mans the more I hung off the side of the bike the tougher it was for rear grip. I had to sit very much on the middle of the seat which does not help for turning.
After the technical debrief with the team and looking at everything we did over the weekend (which included a big change before the race which did not improve things) I think moving me on the bike could be our solution.
I loved the start and when I qualified tenth and was on the fourth row I looked up the grid and thought ‘This suits me just fine. Around the outside at turn one and then up the inside into the chicane’. It worked perfectly. Bautista in front of me rolled off and I clicked up another gear and held it wide open. I did my job and put myself into fifth place where I needed to be.
I hung in there while the tyre was good but then faded back when the grip went away. I did the very best I could. I tried desperately to hang onto eighth but made a silly mistake and almost lost the front at the double right coming onto the back straight and, like others, ran off track and lost two places which was so frustrating.
The final ten laps was a fight with Dovizioso and Aleix Espargaro and I have to question Aleix’s move on the last lap when I passed him on the back straight and he dived inside me at the Esses.
He got in too deep and took us both wide onto the short cut and for me he gained an unfair advantage but that’s for Race Direction to decide. The difference between ninth and tenth at this moment is not worth arguing about.
Let’s hope we have found a solution for the next round at Mugello which is a track I really like. It’s a tricky circuit as my permanently-bent little finger will verify after the crash there last year, but grip issues are masked because the surface produces such good grip levels.
You learn a lot when the results are bad and a lot more than when the results are good. I’m confident we can lift our game and learn a great deal from my team-mate Pol’s success this weekend. We need to check all the data to figure out why I had such grip problems while he had such a good weekend.
One of the advantages of having a fast team-mate is being able to look at the other side of the garage to try and work out just what is going wrong. Of course his fourth place rankles with me because we are riding the same bikes and I know that both me and the bike can be that competitive.
We are just a little bit off target but need to get it right and bring it on really quickly because that’s two weekends with bad finishes. We need to get back on track and have four good races before the summer break.
I know that my guys will come with something different and I’m excited to get to Mugello and try it out. It’s very undulating and so sorting out that weight balance on the bike is crucial.
Look at Jorge Lorenzo’s three victories there over the last three years and we know Valentino will be very fast. It will be great to have access to their data and with Valentino making his 300th grand prix appearance in front of the home fans the plan must be to chase him as hard as I can.
Sunday was the first opportunity this season for anybody to beat Marc Marquez after his mistake on the first lap but still he won. I’m sure Yamaha are looking into just why he was able to catch and pass Valentino, who was disappearing into the distance at the front.
I think me and Jorge struggled with similar grip issues while Valentino and Pol found many positives. Yamaha have a full spectrum of data to have a real 3D image of the race. They are working so hard and hopefully they can bring us something soon to push those Hondas.
We need to get our butts moving.