Maverick Viñales (Yamaha Factory Racing) got his 2019 preseason off to the perfect start after he topped both days at the Valencia Test, setting the quickest time of 1:30.757 to better second place Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso by 0.133 and reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) by 0.154 as the premier class riders completed a busy day of testing in Valencia; the rain staying away on Wednesday.
For Viñales and teammate Valentino Rossi – who ended the test eighth fastest – another new spec’ of engine was available for them to test, after Tuesday saw them test the first spec of the 2019 Yamaha engine.
Ending the test top can only be a good sign for the Spaniard, who managed to complete 57 laps on Day 2, setting his quickest time on his 50th lap as we saw a mini time attack occur during the afternoon.
Viñales said it will now be important to continue testing in Jerez, feeling like they’ve made good progress but needing more time on the new one after another slightly later start on Day 2 due to a damp track.
“It has been a positive test. We’ve been working a lot on improving for the first lap of the race. I’m actually really happy because from the first lap I felt good grip and I could push. There’s still work to do to further improve the engine braking and the smoothness of the power, so that’s what we will work on in Jerez. It was unlucky that we couldn’t ride all day, like we had planned. We couldn’t test the engines very well, so we’re going to decide after Jerez which of the two we choose. As I said, we need to try more, to be more convinced about the engine decision, but I think we’re on the right track. We need to focus on the riding style and getting a smoother bike will be very important, especially when there’s no grip during the race, but there is an upgrade coming that will help a lot. In these last two days I only focused on the engine and didn’t touch anything concerning the setting. I think we could have improved the set-up for Valencia a lot, but I’m happy that just focusing on the engine we improved by some tenths.”
The Doctor was very focused on getting his YZR-M1‘s new engine in perfect shape ahead of the 2019 season. He completed 63 laps in total and set a 1’31.371s after completing two-thirds of his testing programme, which was enough to keep him in ninth position in the rankings, 0.614s from today’s best time. The lap also earned him ninth place in the overall Valencia test results, as almost all MotoGP riders improved on their best effort on the second day.
“We were able to improve compared to yesterday, but unfornately our opponents were able to improve more. Today was a bit more difficult. We tried a different engine and a different spec, but it was similar to the one we tried yesterday so they have more or less the same performance. For now we keep the same material, and next week we will try it again at another track, in Jerez, so there we’ll try to understand it in a better way. After that we have to wait for next year. The test in Jerez is important because in the GP there in May we weren’t very fast. We need to understand if we’re stronger now.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“We‘ve made a very productive start to the 2019 pre-season, and we have quite a few things to be positive about. Our wish for some dry testing time was granted, though we had to wait until the afternoon on both days. Still, the hours on track allowed us to get a lot of work done. As announced during the Valencia GP weekend, Maverick and Valentino focused mainly on comparing the new engine evolution to the 2018 engine. The new engines improve the engine braking, and the acceleration is smoother. Both riders really only concentrated on comparing the engines, without touching the chassis setting. They both gave positive and similar feedback on what we tried during this test. We managed to do 60% of what we had scheduled. So far we‘re on the right path. Next up is the two-day test at Jerez that will be crucial in preparing for the 2019 season. We’re heading in the right direction, so that’s our motivation to keep working hard.”
VR46 Academy rider and YZR-M1 rookie Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), meanwhile, did 57 laps as he continues to adjust from Honda to Yamaha – but that adjusting doesn’t seem to be taking the 2017 Moto2 Champion long.
Interestingly, Morbidelli was also riding with a new spec engine to finish Day 2 just 0.217 off Viñales, but he was on a 2017 chassis. Carbon forks were also used by Morbidelli, while rookie teammate Fabio Quartararo got a valuable 63 laps (101 in total) under his belt as he impressed on his premier class debut – just 1.334 separated the Frenchman from the fastest time set.
“It has been a really good day for us, we have been able to complete more laps than yesterday and learn more about the bike. We have done a good job and in the end we have finished with a good lap time, although that’s not the important thing at the moment. The priority is to give good feedback to the team and the Yamaha engineers, to work on everything we can to improve the bike and at the same time maximise its strong points. We played around a little with the setting today but only at a basic level to understand more about how it works. I am very happy and a little surprised by our speed and consistency but we have to focus on continuing to improve because so far this is just testing.”
“We have been able to improve a lot on the second day of the test – as far as the lap time is concerned, by almost two seconds – and I am really happy with all the work we have done. We couldn’t get too many laps in yesterday but today every time I went out the feeling with the bike improved. With the new tyre I was always able to improve and with the used tyre I could stay constant. We have only tried some very small things with the set-up of the bike – little details like the footpegs and the front suspension. We had the last five minutes available to practice starts and the first one was a little strange because it was the first time I had tried launch control, but from the second one I felt better and better and I know we will continue to improve. I am very happy with this first test, the team have done a great job. Now I am looking forward to more at Jerez!”
Wilco Zeelenberg -Petronas Yamaha SRT Team Manager
“It has been a very positive test for the whole team. Fabio [Quartararo] has completed his first laps on a MotoGP bike and watching his progression, and seeing where he finished up, I think he has done a good job. We are trying to guide him in the best way possible but once he is on the bike it is him that makes the decisions. Franco [Morbidelli] has more experience and was fast from the start, I think we have all been impressed by his lap times and the flow of information is also very good. The start gun has been fired and now we have to keep working at Jerez next week.”
For Marquez and teammate Jorge Lorenzo, the ‘second version’ 2019 bike was used. This bike isn’t the full 2019 version, but a combination of parts including the chassis, engine, a Ducati-esque tank modification on Lorenzo’s bike, aero packages, a new air intake, new suspension and a relocated steering damper.
Honda have different combinations of everything and Marquez said he was concentrating on the engine, too. Plenty of laps were done by both multiple World Champions – neither of whom are at full power with some injury struggles – on a productive day, Marquez ended up in P3 after 53 laps, while Lorenzo completed 46 laps – 0.827 off the top for the ‘Spartan’.
Marc Marquez – P3
“It was a good day for us, as we tried many things and got a lot of information. Today we mainly worked on the new bike and the engine setup, but not only on that. We had many things to try and to understand, as the feeling is quite different. In the morning I was really comfortable and I was already able to be fast. Then I stayed there, remained calm and kept the rhythm, because to be honest, it was a must-not-crash situation today. We tried different combinations, spending a lot of time in the garage in the morning, but I was able to make a few consistent runs in the afternoon.”
In the Ducati garage, 57 laps were completed by Dovizioso – and the second fastest time – after a more productive day for the Italian. The number 04 and teammate Danilo Petrucci were on Desmosedicis that were very close to being 2019 specs, the latter ending the day fifth fastest after 60 laps – 0.202 from top spot.
“Today went better than yesterday because we were able to do a lot of tests, including back-to-back ones, during which we found some interesting solutions. These were small details and now we want to try them in different conditions and on another track to get some more precise feedback. These two days of tests at Valencia have been very positive and now we will try and confirm the same sensations at Jerez.”
“I’m pleased with this second day of tests because we were able to try a lot of things and we were always pretty fast, up near the top of the timesheets. I was able to lap consistently with excellent times, even though we didn’t do many tests with different set-ups, and this means that the 2019 bike has a good base. In the end, I only missed out on a quick lap, but I’m very pleased with the way the team is working, with even more engineers helping me, and this made all the difference.”
Meanwhile, test rider Michele Pirro – who crashed at Turn 2 – was on the full spec 2019 machine, with Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) on board a ‘first step’ 2019 bike, according to Team Manager Davide Tardozzi. Dovizioso commented he’d found something “interesting” that will now be explored further at Jerez.
“Today I didn’t do many laps, just 14 in total, when the track wasn’t very fast, but we still managed to do a test that gave us some very useful information. Unfortunately, the problem with my right shoulder, which has worsened since Sunday, didn’t allow me to work well and I crashed again. In ten days’ time I’ll finally be able to have an operation and then I want to turn over a new page.”
“I’m very happy. We’ve had two days of very interesting tests. The feeling with the bike is very good. It’s clear that there’s still work to be done on the setup and fixing some details but the first sensations are extremely positive”.
It was another good day for 2018 Moto2 World Champion Francesco Bagnaia, who – also according to Tardozzi – was on an early 2018 spec Ducati. The rookie was able to lap 49 times on Day 2 to bring his overall tally up to 87 as he ends the test just 0.648 off the fastest time.
“It’s been two important days. The first impact with Ducati was impressive and I must say that I immediately found myself very well with the whole team that made me feel at ease. We have made great strides forward and in Jerez we will work to continue to improve”.
Fellow Desmosedici rider Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) returned to MotoGP action at the Valencia Test, and impressed immensely. Still nowhere near 100% fit, the Spaniard completed 59 laps on his GP18 on Day 2 – in addition to his 36 on Day 1 – to finish just over a second off pacesetter Viñales.
“This was a positive test. We did a good job, we were calm and I used every lap to learn more about the new bike and some new staff members in my team. I’m very happy about this test and I’m in love with my Ducati GP18. The bike turns better and the power is incredible. Now we have to keep working in the same way at Jerez next week”.
Rabat’s new teammate Karel Abraham continued to familiarise himself with the team and to adapt to his new Ducati GP18, a bike quite different from the one he rode until last Sunday. Abraham also improved his pace from the first day and wants to progress even more at the next two days of testing at Jerez.
“Today we did a lot of work and we were able to test many things on the bike, but we have more to do next week in Jerez, where we will double-check the set-up base that we established. We know the potential of the bike is much higher than our position in the time sheets today, so we have to work hard to get the best out of this machine. That’s why I’m not completely happy. But the first connection with the team is good and I’m sure we will improve during the winter test to get to the maximum before the season starts in Qatar”.
The LCR Honda Idemitsu Team recorded positive results for their Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami. Testing the 2018 Honda RC213V which his injured team-mate Cal Crutchlow had used during the season, Nakagami made significant progress, and ended the test as the second-fastest Honda behind world champion Marc Marquez. The 26-year-old completed 70 laps of the track, more than any other rider present, and ended up eighth on the timesheets, just a half-second behind the best lap overall.
“We made a really important step forward today, and with each outing I felt much more confident with the bike. The lap times were good and we were only a few tenths behind the fastest riders. I’m really happy to be on this competitive bike and step by step we are just trying to find the right set-up for it. The position is good, so I’m really happy with the work we have done as a team, and particularly happy with my new crew chief Giacomo (Guidotti). We mainly worked on set-up of the chassis today, and that was the main thing. Then we did a few back to back tests to double check things. The new Michelin rear tyre that all the riders tested was also a positive for me. All told it has been a positive test for us, and now we go to Jerez and try to keep moving on forwards.”
Elsewhere, some big news from the test over at Team Suzuki Ecstar was the new engine that Alex Rins was testing on Wednesday. The Spaniard was able to register 69 laps and set the seventh fastest time of the test, 0.497 from Viñales. And what about teammate Joan Mir? Well, the rookie continued his very solid debut to finish 0.957 off P1 after getting 56 laps done. Team Manager Davide Brivio says the engine will also be a key focus in Jerez, before important decisions are made going into the winter break.
“My first impression of the new engine was good. I did a lot of laps with both the old engine and the new spec one, so I could compare and contrast. In the end my fastest lap came with the old engine, but we’ll continue to work. The new one has a lot of power and that’s a good sign. The main difference is in the power delivery on the whole curve, I can feel that a lot with the new engine spec. Let’s see what we can try in Jerez next week. I’m feeling good.”
“I’m very happy overall, I was improving in each session on the track and I was able to try a lot of things such as electronics. I’m learning a bit more about how MotoGP works and how the adjustments change the feel of the bike. My pace has been good, and that’s a great thing. But in Jerez I will try to work on setting fast laps, because here I wasn’t really able to set a very pacy lap. But I’m very happy with how everything is going so far. I can’t wait for Jerez!”
Davide Brivio – Suzuki Team Manager
“This has been a productive and positive test for us, despite the weather conditions which prevented us from completing the whole programme we had. Alex made some improvements in setup and electronics at first, and then today he could finally test the new engine spec. Despite the fact that we still have some areas to finalise his first impressions were positive, and we got some important indications. We also wanted to try the 2019 chassis but due to the weather we’ll try it in Jerez. Joan continued his apprentice programme, after getting confident with the bike yesterday, today he began to appreciate how the bike’s behaviour changes as soon as we apply some modifications. For him the job was mainly focused on set up and electronics. These two days have been in line with our expectations and have helped us prepare for Jerez, where we will try to finalise the base bike that we will use in Sepang in February.”
Ken Kawauchi – Suzuki Technical Manager
“It’s been a positive test, except for the weather. It’s normal at this time of the year but it meant we didn’t have much track time. Alex at least was able to try the new engine for next year, which was helpful for starting the process of adjusting it. We’ll continue this work next week. As a rookie Joan has been very impressive and worked well, and both riders have done a very good job. The level of competition has been high among all the manufacturers, so we need to stay focused and get even more improvements.”
At KTM, it was a more difficult second day for Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) as he crashed twice on Day 2 trying to find the limit, ending the two-day test 1.752 off Viñales’ time. 50 laps were completed by the Frenchman, who was again the first rider to head out after the Circuit Ricardo Tormo took a while to dry in the morning.
Teammate Pol Espargaro ended 0.871 from Viñales in P13, 47 laps fulfilled for the Spaniard who had a new fairing to try – and was focusing on electronics, as he’d reported on Day 1.
“By the end, we wanted to do a fast lap time because it’s what people see, but we had some problems with that. Anyway, I think we’ve done a good job. We tried many things on the bike. All the staff are happy and have still a lot of things to try. We’ll continue in Jerez!”
There was a late crash for Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) at Turn 10 after the Malaysian continued his adaptation to a new machine, with both he and teammate Miguel Oliveira riding 2019 RC16 machines. The Portuguese rider completed 46 laps on Day 2 – 79 in total – to finish 3.041 from the top, shaving over a second off his fastest time from Day 1.
“Overall, we had a decent test. I didn’t look at the lap time these two days, but tried to feel good on the bike, to get used to it and to understand the electronic. On the first day, until we didn’t touch anything on the bike, but this afternoon we changed some things on the front and the rear, which was positive. Later today, it was quite cold and we used the medium tyre. I had a small crash in turn 10, but I was in a good shape and had a good rhythm to understand the bike. We try to continue working hard and to understand, also for the team to learn the new electronic. I hope we have some great weather in Jerez and aim to improve with every session.”
“Today we definitely made a step forward compared to yesterday and improved our lap time obviously. We did much more laps than yesterday and just continued to work on the bike. Toady we started to touch some areas, after we had basically the same bike throughout the day on Tuesday. Now we were able to make some changes. Because everything is new, it took the team a bit of time to make these changes and also to adapt my comments from what I wish to have from the bike, so it’s a learning curve for everyone in this particular situation. So far, it has been positive.”
With Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) crashing twice and test rider Bradley Smith crashing once, it was also a difficult day for the new Noale factory riders, although Iannone shrugged off his two crashes as a natural consequence of finding the limit on a new bike.
Teammate Aleix Espargaro was on engine testing duty and trying chassis updates, and a P10 finish and 55 laps completed signalled a solid day’s work as the Spaniard ended the two days 0.643 off the pace.
“We did a good job in these tests. Today I tried a new frame, also continuing the tests on the new engine that I had used yesterday. The feeling was good, although I want to try everything again in Jerez, which is a rather different track than this one and more indicative. We know well which areas we need to work on and the arrival of two new riders with a lot of experience helps us to focus our priorities. This will be a very demanding winter, because these two days confirmed the level of the championship that awaits – even higher than the season that just ended if that’s possible.”
It was the second day of work with Aprilia for Andrea Iannone as well who was able to carry out a series of comparative tests, lapping both with the 2018 configuration bike and the more recent evolution that the team had used in the latest races. The Italian rider continued his apprenticeship, working primarily on adapting the RS-GP to his riding characteristics. He turned 32 laps today, with a best time of 1’32.124 and two crashes without any physical consequences.
There was plenty of work for the Aprilia Racing Test Team, with two RS-GP machines entrusted to new-entry Bradley Smith. On today’s 58 laps, the English rider mainly looked for a base setup on which to then work in the next tests, testing new components and technical solutions. His best lap stopped the clock at 1’33.028.
“It was nice to do several laps with the new bike and the new team today. Our goal is first and foremost to gain familiarity with the RS-GP, find a base setup that will then allow us to better assess the various technical upgrades that we’ll need to test as our experience grows. We worked a lot on the electronics and we made some slight changes to the suspension calibration, reaching a level where I am more at ease. I adapted rather quickly. I didn’t struggle too much to find a good position in the saddle and I can’t wait to get back on the track in Jerez to give the guys more information so we can prepare the 2019 bike as best as possible.”
That’s a wrap from Valencia now, but there’s more action coming before the winter break! Make sure to keep up to date from the Jerez Test on the 28th and 29th November.
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