Jorge Lorenzo will be looking for his fourth consecutive race win at Qatar. (Photo: Mirco Lazzari GP/Getty Images)

will be looking for his third consecutive win at Qatar. (Photo: Mirco Lazzari GP/Getty Images)

Lorenzo knows that winning Qatar is no guarantee of the world championship, as he found to his dismay in 2013.

But Jorge Lorenzo knows what it takes to win the Qatar Grand Prix, and he will bid for a third consecutive win in the race which opens the season in Doha on Sunday.

Lorenzo opened the 2013 season will a sublime victory in Qatar, the first of eight wins for the season, the most of any rider.

But, come last November, Lorenzo lost the title to precocious rookie and fellow Spaniard Marc Marquez (six wins) by just four points.

For a rider addicted to winning like Lorenzo, this was a bitter pill swallow.

He wants to set the record straight, and that means another head-on battle with Marquez who claimed the bragging rights in motorcycle-mad Spain with his historic rookie title win last year.

“I have a lot energy and motivation to win the title again and, obviously, when you lose a championship like I did to Marc last year, you want to recover that championship maybe more than if you had never won it,” said twice world champion Lorenzo.

“Last year I lost the championship, but Marc deserved it  because he was a rookie and he won a lot of races.

“It was only four points but without my result in Le Mans [seventh with a rain tire issue] it should have been enough to win the championship. And then there were my collarbone injuries with crashes in Assen and Germany.”

While he graciously concedes that Marquez is a worthy champion, it barely masks a steely mindset to win a third MotoGP world championship to add to his 2010 and ’12 titles

“Anything can happen but I will fight the maximum to be the champion again,” Lorenzo adds.

Lorenzo correctly notes there are a lot of unknowns for this season with the real competitive status of the Open Class bikes, and the concessions to Ducati, still to be measured over race distance.

Sunday’s Qatar GP will answer a lot of those questions, most pointedly is whether the dashing one-lap speed of Aleix Espargaro on an open class M1 is capable of being sustained over 20 laps?

Espargaro was fastest in the first two opening practices for Sunday’s race and much faster than Lorenzo on a factory class M1 on a track with low grip levels.

Espargaro and Ducati rider Andrea Iannone had the benefit of last week’s pre-season Qatar test while the factory riders were at Phillip Island in Australia.

But it is the gift of the open class 24 liter fuel allocation and soft rear tire to Ducati riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow – a move to help Ducati win again – that most intrigues Lorenzo.

And then is the increasingly awesome factory Honda RC213V, on which Marquez will defend his title and Dani Pedrosa will attempt to win his first.

“No one knows what will happen,” Lorenzo said. ”The Ducati looks stronger but who knows if it can win races.  With the Open class spec, the Ducati is fast without the soft tire so Imagine if they can use the soft tire in all the races.

“Espargaro’s bike is more or less the same as mine but with more fuel and a soft tire. It could be very strong.

“And then there is the Honda, which is just fast everywhere, and you must imagine that Marc will be a better rider than he was last year. It will not be easy to win a  lot of races this year.”

The slow pace of Lorenzo and other factory riders in early practice at Qatar should be ignored.  What will more accurately set the pattern for the season will be if Lorenzo can win a third straight race in Doha.

It won’t guarantee the title, but it will surely set the scene for another titanic battle against Marquez for the crown;  and the hearts and minds of Spanish fans.

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