Subscriber Feature: Why Jorge Lorenzo Had A Tough Time With Tires In 2016

What went wrong for Jorge Lorenzo in 2016? A lot of things. The Spaniard was quickest during the Sepang test, a full second faster than his teammate. He started the season strongly, with a win at Qatar, then a strong run of form from Austin to Mugello, finishing either first or second every race except in Argentina, where he crashed. That crash perhaps foreshadowed what was to come: unable to match the pace of the leaders, he pushed hard to manage the gap. He went slightly off line and hit a damp patch on the track, and lost the front.

The cause of that problem – Michelin's tires in poor grip conditions – would be a recurring pattern. At Barcelona, after the track layout was changed to make it safer in response to the tragic death of Luis Salom, Lorenzo was once again struggling, and was wiped out by an impatient Andrea Iannone. At Assen, the Sachsenring, Brno and Silverstone, Lorenzo had an awful time in the wet. At Phillip Island, it was the same, this time cold temperatures in the race causing problems after so much of practice was washed out by the rain.

Why was Lorenzo struggling? Was it really just a question of the Spaniard being afraid of the rain? Or is there something more to it than that? And how will Lorenzo cope with this on the Ducati next year?

The interface between bike and track

The answer to all of these questions revolve around tires, and grip. Jorge Lorenzo's riding style requires several key things: a bike that is stable in corners, a front tire with good, predictable grip, and a rear tire with a lot of edge grip. Because his riding style relies so heavily on corner speed, his bike is set up long and more softly sprung than other riders, making it more difficult to generate heat into the tires.

The extreme lean angles Lorenzo achieves cause problems in both the wet and the dry. When Cal Crutchlow was still riding a Yamaha M1 with the Tech 3 team, and could see Lorenzo's data for comparison, he told us repeatedly "the only time I get the same lean angle as Jorge is just before I crash."

This is part of a semi-regular series of insights into the world of motorcycle racing, exclusive for site supporters. The series will include background information, in-depth analysis, and opinion pieces. Though the vast majority of content on is to remain free to read, most notably the daily round ups at each MotoGP event, a select amount of content will be made available solely to those who have taken out a subscription.

The aim is to increase the number of site supporters and be able to move away from online advertising altogether, a model which is broken, as the rise of ad blockers demonstrates. Adding exclusive subscriber content adds value for site supporters, in addition to the desktop-sized versions of Scott Jones' photos for the site. The hope is that this will persuade more of our regular readers to support financially, and help us grow and improve the site. 

If you would like to become a site supporter, you can take out a subscription here. If you are already a subscriber, you can read the full feature explaining why Jorge Lorenzo is struggling, including an extensive explanation from his team manager at Yamaha, Wilco Zeelenberg, here.


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As a regular subscriber (recently renewed too), I am glad you are taking this direction.  I am appreciative of your coverage and happy to support your efforts. I believe regular readers that are not subscribers will enjoy the additional insight you offer with these subscriber only features. Thank you!

And the direction taken is only for PAYING members. its not for everybuddy anymore and force people to be a subscriber to read what was befor for everybuddy. To bad it seems everything is about money these days. And to bad things got to this!!

"Too bad it seems everything is about money these days."

I have a great deal of sympathy with that sentiment. However, to write this unique feature, I had to travel to several races, and speak to several people, including speaking at length with Wilco Zeelenberg. The average race weekend costs somewhere in the region of €1000 (some more, some less). That includes the flights to and from the nearest airport, car hire for five days or more, accommodation, and food. Then there are various other expenses (wear and tear on equipment, pens, notebooks, keeping my laptop working, back up disks, etc etc etc). 

I have to pay for all of these items. Calling up Transavia or Vueling and telling them "It's David Emmett from MotoMatters, can I have a free flight?" does not get me anything except a loud burst of laughter down the phone. There are several ways I earn money, and subscriptions to the website are one of them. I would like a lot more people to subscribe, as then I could hire more people and make the website even better. If I could double the amount of subscribers, I could hire an extra writer to help create much more content for the website.

Most of that content - the vast majority of it - remains free, and will remain so in the future. Ideally, I would like to produce one feature every week or two, while producing at least one article per day for the website, depending on what is happening in the world of racing. So in the worst case scenario, the amount of paid content on the site would never exceed more than about 10%.

While online advertising revenues are growing, the only organizations benefiting are Google and Facebook. Every other online publication is seeing incomes from advertising either remain flat or fall. Part of this is due to the vicious circle online advertising finds itself in, with advertising agencies using more and more aggressive means of advertising (pop overs, pop unders, autoplaying video ads, etc), which is causing more and more people to install adblockers. I get approached daily by the kind of agencies who want to put such ads on, and I turn them down, because I want the website to be a good experience for the user. Ideally, I would like to remove all advertising from the website.

The point is, somebody has to pay for my time, to allow me to produce the content for this website. I can't do it for free. I am touched and honored that so many people see enough value in my work that they are willing to pay for it.

David, I would like to say thank you for the years of hard work following your passion through which you have managed to feed our souls with exceptional wordplay.  I have shamelessly enjoyed your blog, and website for a few years - and after reading the above ignorant comment...I had to subscribe.  My only regret is not doing so sooner.

Wish you the highest level of success in your endeavours.



You're completetly right and agree with what you wrote.

But the fact is I wont pay, which doesn't mean i will never pay neither I have never paid (in fact I did, a little but I did), not for a very good reason trully speaking just because I don't like feeling a horse in front of a carrot.

It's not your fault, once again I see your point and completely understand it and hope it will enable you to "breath" a little but ... I just don't like it.

The "system" is not good you're right.... Im not on tweeter nor facebook for the same stupid reason ... the "horse" problem :).

Anyway I will follow you, you're an extraordinary journalist, you don't just glorify the sport (my top 3 passion !) but you also learned me the taste of good english ... à l'école, ce n'est malheureusement pas ce type d'anglais qu'on nous enseigne :).


I have just now gladly renewed my subscription which was due to expire in a few days. Just FYI the link provided to resubscribe in the reminder email I received does not render correctly and sent me to a "Page not found" error.

No complaints from me on either your content or the subscription price. Your insight and writing style make my go to site for everything bike racing related. Excellent work from your whole team!

It's drawing a very long bow to complain about motomatters being money hungry, I've subscribed for years in spite of getting basically nothing for it other than feeling good.  If you don't want to subscribe you still get the best motogp coverage in the world for absolutely nothing.  To complain about a small amount of added content (that's not race weekend coverage) for those who contribute more to the financial viability of the site than you do is a bit rich.  David is after all trying to earn a living out of this, do you go to work for free Yogibear?

I think the subscriber content is a good idea and should be expanded, in the previous model there was almost no incentive (other than feeling good) to subscribing.  No ads and some slightly larger photos (still too small to use as a wallpaper on a decent scren) was about it.  A bit more carrot will hopefully inspire more people to subscribe and the site can expand and get even better.

If you're not happy with the direction of the site the solution is obvious: Start your own site and make money posting your own observations while following professional motorcycle racers around for a living.  You can read whatever you want to without paying because you wrote it yourself, and you can charge everyone else to read it!  

It costs like $10 to purchase a domain name and many service providers will host your site for nothing.  The rest is practically free money.  Except for all of the expenses.  And the long hours.  Darn it, I thought I was on to something. 

You do understand that this is David's job, right?  There's no real boss above him cutting him a salary (err unless Mr. Emmett is married?).  The internet has spoiled people for "free" content, or in the cases of public/private forums, free services that *someone* must pay for either through charity or through the raising of revenues through passive (to you) means such as advertisements.  Nevertheless, just because you weren't cutting a check up front, doesn't mean that it wasn't costing an often large expense for the people providing the service.  Some do it and don't put up ads because it's their passion and they're happy to pay for their passion, however, for David it's his job and the only way he can deliver all this content is by appropriately running it as a business.  

In other words, everyone needs to eat, but that doesn't mean that the baker should give his bread away for free because "Hey, I'm hungry!  This shouldn't all be about money!"  And that's for food, you *don't* need free motorcycle leisure reading material.  

Your lack of sense for economics is very worrying, yogi bear.  

Just a word of support for your hard work and for doing a great job while keeping us free from evil pop-ups and other sorts of advertising.
I don't remember when my renewal is due but I will not forget.
Thank you

"...Lorenzo's riding style requires several key things: a bike that is stable in corners, a front tire with good, predictable grip, and a rear tire with a lot of edge grip. Because his riding style relies so heavily on corner speed, his bike is set up long and more softly sprung than other riders..."

How little I understand about race riding. I can't guess what rear edge grip or "predictable" front grip feels like, and having personally seen Lorenzo roar through corners looking like he's floating on a rail, it's hard to think of his bike as "softly sprung", as I'd normally understand that term. I wonder how his needs stack up against the Ducati's features, and what hardware accomodations (if any) Gigi & co. are making for Lorenzo's needs.


As for the subscriber-only features, it's not like we're losing something for our money.

I'm watching my country be destroyed from the inside out, I found out yesterday that a man who's motorcycle accident I was at the scene of last month lost his foot after four surgeries, and my savings are running out while I'm still job hunting. Life is shit, we should be glad for the good things. David can charge and offer what he likes because I met him once and I know he's good people. I ain't bovvered.

I understand completely David.  I am slightly bummed that I have to now pay for the only real information I get now days on MotoGP.  Since they moved to BeIN sports I am not seeing races anymore because I would have to add another $30 per month to get the next package on my service.  I stopped going to and because they put the most interesting material into their "paid" service content.  Unfortunately for me, I respect your material much more than I do theirs and will become a subscriber to continue to get the most accurate and telling news I can on the sport I enjoy watching/reading about.  Hopefully this will increase your ability to cover more races in first person.

Thank you David for all your efforts bringing insights, news and opinions. For free or paid, I think it is just fair to be paid and it is really great you offer so much for free.

At the moment I have a subscription on 3 dutch motorcycle magazines. Year after year redaction resources have become so scarce  that they become a waste of money. And that is even true when there would not be any webcontent available. The way motorsport is covered by the magazines is also really bad. Most motorsports are not mentioned at all.

I think I just have kept the subscriptions to hope for better times and knowing that if we al keep canceling that subscription there will be no coverage at all.

So, in my opionion we are really blessed with your site: it is like an oase in the desert. 

I just signed up for a subscription after telling myself I would do so for the past year.  Why?  Because you provide amazing original content that I cannot find anywhere else.  Period.  I don't understand any negativity towards you wanting something in return for your time although I do thank those reader's for motiviating me to get off my lazy ass and finally give you something in return for what you've given us all over the years.

Thank you again for the high quality work you consistently provide!!

I used to frequent this site and enjoy reading the articles and comments. This site was great. a great journo, i would even go as far as saying the best especially in the field of sport. And a comments section that most of the time looked at matters from both sides and wouldnt resort to petty squabbling. Well it did a whole lot better than any other site. But since the site changed after the marquez/rossi fallout in Malaysia last season i unfortunately lost a lot of interest. Yes i still read the odd article, but i tend to steer well clear of the comment section. The reason for which is the amounts of back slapping have become a little cringe worthy. The fact that people that pay have a little badge they wear with pride to have themselves stand out from the people who dont. The over use of the word insight. Dont get me wrong david should be accepting money for his work thats fine but do we really need to point out that we have paid money? I know that the site faithful wont agree and i guess i expect it but i wonder if others have done the same as me and lost a bit of interest. Yes i mooch of the site from time to time but after having triplets and being set back to just one wage for the household ive had to give up a lot and wouldnt be able to afford to pay the site anyway. hell i cant even afford to watch the races anymore. I am not trying to offend anyone. I guess if you are offended then you might see yourself in what im describing. Im just making a point that the site for me at least has changed some what and for me its a bit of a shame.

I too have lost some of the warm and fuzzy that this site used to give me. A caste system website? we all have different budgets and some can afford it easier than others. 

I'm sorry that the business model you've chosen isn't producing enough money for your ongoing needs. But, maybe instead of hiring another writer, invest that money into marketting this site properly, like others and the issue solves itselfs quietly to both sides satisfaction... just my thoughts, I can appreciate that your approach is different and I'm not being critical...

Everywhere around the internet, the advertising-supported model is failing. News outlets everywhere are turning to some form of paid content model. Every year, online advertising revenue increases, and every year, the share of that revenue being gobbled up by Google and Facebook grows, which means less and less money for everyone else.

Marketing this site won't make it viable. The other main motorcycle racing websites are all facing the same problem, which is why some of them have become overloaded with advertising, sometimes to the detriment of actually being able to read the website. One outlet, which has very deep pockets, is trying to corner the motorsports market, but has already started to aggressively monetize its users by pushing a commercial merchandising model alongside it. I question how sustainable that is.

The future of news and information on the internet - quality news and information, at least - is some form of paid support for the model. 

The way I see it, and David makes a similar point below, sites have the charge for something - as advertising isn't enough anymore.  Some sites charge for subscriptions, some charge for just premium content, some aggressively merchandise, some try to get referral money from diverting users to retailers, some add on other services such as buy and sell sections and monetise those.  In the end, if you want to produce content then you're going to have to charge users somewhere somehow.  Even aggregation sites struggle to operate on ad revenue alone.  Reddit has tens of millions of distinct users each day but can't make a profit from advertising alone.

I hear you, and I sympathize with your financial situation.  Your cup half-empty view though just doesn't make sense to me.  David's model allows people who can afford to pay to do so.  It also allows you to enjoy >90% of the same content and not do so.  I, a paying subscriber, do not begrudge you that abilility.  It may be me there some day and I will appreciate that I can perhaps skip a year if I must.   If the only downside to that >90% free access is that you have to see a badge next to the names of those that paid, then that seems to me a small price to 'pay'.   The alternatives are to dump the pay model altogether and David goes out of business and no one has any content whatsoever.   Or, he switches to an all-paid model and you see nothing, no content and no badges, unless you pay.    I think that, if you take issue with the 'site supporter' badge, it is surely a non-issue when the alternative is that you have no access to the site at all?

I truly do sympathize with your circumstances, but I don't follow you when you complain about how a free product is offered to you.  I think your cup is half-full and you're failing to recognize it.  I don't have strong feeling one way or the other about the 'sit supporter' badge.  But, speaking for myself, I couldn't bring myself to complain when someone offers me something for free; I either take it and don't complain, or I walk away.

As far as the Rossi/Marquez incident - we all stank after that one.  I can't disagree with you there.  But I never felt I had the bully-pulpit because I was a paid subscriber.  I was down in the muck with everyone else :-)

I'm not trying to be critical of you, truly.  I'm just trying too point out that a small badge on people's names seems (to me) a small thing when you are able to access the site's contents for free.   You may have already considered this and computed differently, but I am having difficulty understanding how.

That the reaction from some posters here turned our attention to the nature and business model of motomatters and we totally forgot about the article itself and its content. It was interesting and I would have loved to read others' opinions and share mine. We'll have to wait for next feature article on JL....
As for the reactions I already posted my position sometime ago. Being a journalist myself I feel like I'm a Panda.... an endangered species struggling to survive. I do understand that most people on this website belong to the 99%: we all struggle to make ends meet and we have to make choices to spend wisely the little money we have. And I respect it. I just think that all work deserves a reward. Here I only speak for myself: I enjoyed this site for a long time for free and it was fair I pay a little for it. But I'm not gonna boast about it and wear the badge site supporter with righteousness that's not why I did it. I only thought it was fair.

As the owner of a niche online sports news publisher in Australia it's hard not to have empathy for a move towards having a somewhat subs-based structure here. Although my own particular business model does manage to survive, not thrive, purely from advertising revenue, it's death by slow asphyxiation as smaller clients go to the wall due to globalisation and industry consolidation. As wonderful as the net is, the proliferation and ubiquity of news - even if of the twitter variety - is sending many mainstream publications to the wall at the same time as their physical mastheads see their values fall off a cliff.

A few days ago I paid A$56 to subscribe to this site just 24 hours after discovering motomatters by sheer luck. I don't really know that I'll get anything extra from it. So why pay? Simple: I love motogp and sbk, and while I get a smattering of info from Asphalt&Rubber, Revzilla, and Dorna's own site etc., it's not easy to find an independent online medium that's not only dedicated purely to the particular bike racing I'm passionate about, but that contains erudite coverage unlikely to be found anywhere else. Throw in brilliant hi res images and the opportunity to discourse via forum with other fans, and it's a no-brainer home for likeminded racing tragics.

If getting Emmett & co to the track for in-depth interviews means foregoing a case of beer for the year, so be it. For those who can't afford it, you're still getting 90 percent of what you won't find anywhere else for free, which seems pretty reasonable as the world moves to a reader pays model.