Cristian Gabarrini is Positive About The Progress of Jorge Lorenzo at Termas de Rio Hondo

“We aim at finishing in the top 6 with a reduced gap”

Cristian Gabarrini and Jorge Lorenzo talk strategy
Cristian Gabarrini and Jorge LorenzoCourtesy of Ducati Team

Cristian Gabarrini is first to believe Argentina will be a step up from Qatar for Lorenzo.

"We aim at finishing in the Top 6 with a reduced gap" says the 45-year-old Italian Engineer, who has re-joined Ducati as Jorge Lorenzo's crew chief this year. After winning the world title with Ducati and Casey Stoner in 2007, he followed Stoner to Honda for 2011 where they took a second world title. Last year he re-joined the Italian manufacturer after 6 years, to be alongside Jorge Lorenzo in his new challenge.

In a long paddock career the 45-year-old Italian engineer has served three MotoGP world champions: Casey Stoner, Marc Marquez in 2012 and now Jorge Lorenzo. Being a crew chief goes beyond the purely technical side to a primary task of building trust with the rider. In this Cristian is a master.

First, what work environment did you find upon returning to Ducati?
"I found the same passion, great motivation, the same method of work, only with some new people"

jorge lorenzo headshot
Jorge LorenzoCourtesy of Ducati Team

What was your first impression of Jorge Lorenzo?
"We all recognize his talent, but I was impressed by his professionalism. He takes care of all the details. As a person, he is wonderful. One of his qualities is an ability to build strong team spirit. I'm really happy because despite some difficult moments, he is always very calm, likes to joke, and speaks with everyone".

How has he surprised you?
"I was surprised by his extremely lucid analysis of what happens on track. This is manna for us technicians, as we receive an incredible amount of data essential for set-up and the development of the bike. He is a maniac. He takes care of all the details".

How does he differ from your expectations?
"Maybe I expected he would struggle more to adapt to the Ducati, while in fact he is adapting quickly"

Did Lorenzo try to make the Ducati into a Yamaha?
"It's natural that he stresses the positive points of the Yamaha and seeks something familiar. But at the same time, he also prizes the strengths of the Desmosedici. It's natural to consider the strengths of the M1, but this is positive because it excels in areas we need to improve".

jorge lorenzo phillip island test action
Jorge Lorenzo during testing at Phillip IslandCourtesy of Ducati Team

We all expected a better result in Qatar: a pole, a podium finish or even a win.
"I never expected a victory because winning is the result of many factors that must all come together. We need to recognize that he joined a new team and jumped on a Ducati after many years with a different manufacturer. The Michelin tires are also a change (from 2016) so there are many new things to take into account. The pole in Qatar was perhaps within reach, but he made a mistake on that lap and other riders took advantage... so the first result is the race".

In Qatar Lorenzo struggled more than expected. How do you evaluate this first race? What went wrong?
"In the first lap he went wide to avoid Pedrosa. This affected his race. After that he was able to lap for a good part of the race at a pace only a few tenths from the Top 3. So I'm confident for the future and I see things positively".

Lorenzo wanted test rider Michele Pirro as riding advisor. How important is this for his confidence? Why Pirro rather than Stoner?
"Pirro has ridden the Desmosedici from the beginning, and he is the first to test all new material. This makes him a key figure. He follows the action on track and his feedback combines development experience with a rider's perspective",

In last week's Jerez test did Jorge find a setting that might enable him to start and fight with the front group in Argentina?
"Jorge completed 82 laps, focusing on set-up. He tested several things, included the new fairing. We are optimistic".

jorge lorenzo talks with his team
Jorge Lorenzo during Losail testingCourtesy of Ducati Team

What do you expect in Argentina?
"It will depend on track conditions, but for sure I expect to progress compared to Qatar. In addition, the Termas circuit suits Ducati well and this can help".

What result would satisfy you?
"Finishing in the top 6 with a reduced gap to the leader".

You worked with Stoner and Marquez. How is Lorenzo similar to them?
"Jorge is and has been one of the top riders of the last 10 years. He has won 3 MotoGP titles so his talent is unquestioned. Jorge, Marc and Casey are at the same level in riding skills, while differing in personality. It's difficult to make comparisons".

What is the key element that all world champion share?
"There is a mix of factors. First of all you need the pure talent to shine above the others, secondly the intelligence to exploit that talent. It's the skill to manage a race and ride tactically, but also to understand what the bike is doing and to adapt to it."