Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was impressive on Day 1 of the Official Test at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto but the Japanese rider usurped the adjective on Thursday to not only impress, but go quickest. The Japanese rider’s 1:37.945 was unmatchable on Day 2 and he put in 66 laps on his 2018 Honda.
“Of course, it was a great day and I’m really happy to finish with the top time. The time was good, today our target was to get into the high 37s and we did that. I’m really happy with my feeling on the bike and we are improving day by day. The lap time is at a good level, obviously only me and Marc (Marquez) did a 37. It’s a great way to finish for the season and now I’ll relax at home. But I’m already looking forward to the 2019 season and can’t wait to ride this bike again in Sepang.”
Reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was in close pursuit, however, ending the day just 0.025 off Nakagami’s best with a 1:37.970 – with Maverick Viñales (Yamaha Factory Racing) completing the top three and still within a tenth of the top.
At Honda, the devil was in the details – not just the logo on the number 99’s side of the garage – although there was a new airbox on show. Marquez said he was working more on refinements, as well as different tyres, with some good and some bad to report. Overall though it was a satisfied seven-time World Champion, happy with engine improvements. He did 56 laps – including a Marquez-style save – and says now focus will shift more towards the chassis.
“Today we worked more on the details of the setup and straight away this morning the feeling was very good. We spent time testing some medium and hard Michelin rear tyres and then we continued with testing new things. Some of the updates were very good and some less so, as is normal. We improved in the engine area but we have to continue working on this, and on the chassis area as well. We have a lot of information to analyse now. At the end of the day I put the soft tyre on for the first time and we did a good lap time, even though that wasn’t our main priority. We’re happy with how the test went and now it’s time to take a rest!”
New teammate Jorge Lorenzo was also a force to be reckoned with on the timesheets. He put in a 1:38.105 and was just 0.039 off Viñales in third, with the number 99’s fourth day on the Honda seeing him take P4 after 65 laps – the third Honda in the top five.
The leading Yamaha on Day 2 was Viñales after completing 78 laps, and he seems happy with 2019 development so far. Both he and teammate Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing) have been testing two different engine specs, with Viñales clear as to which one they should go with. The Spaniard reflected after Day 2 by saying “overall we have a really competitive bike” and “the laps times were consistent” – positive from the now number 12, but what about Rossi?
“So far, I think we’ve kept a really good rhythm, because we always got a lot out of used tyres, and I’m actually really happy because when I finally pushed for one lap, the bike responded quite well. I know we could improve the chassis quite a lot, now we’ve focused a lot on the engines, so for me it’s quite clear. Let’s see after the meeting what we decide to do. For sure, we always have to improve, but the important thing was to find the base, and now I think for Malaysia we have to improve the top speed, this will be important for the long tracks. I think over all we have a competitive bike.”
While Viñales seems content, the nine-time World Champion wasn’t quite as happy after Day 1, saying that it was good enough for fourth – if they can capitalise on others’ misfortunes. On Day 2 though, Rossi finished 11th fastest after setting a quickest time of 1:38.596, 0.651 from Nakagami’s benchmark after completing 67 laps.
“Today was a good day because we worked more in detail and we improved. My pace was not so bad and the feeling with the bike was quite good. From the start we knew we had to decide on the engine spec and we have already decided. I think the situation is quite clear.”
Rossi had already shared that he would be taking an in-depth look at the data to make a decision on the engine spec. After a total of 67 laps today, he has come to a clear decision on which direction to work in.
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“Though we weren’t able to use all of the available track time due to the cold temperatures in the morning on both days, the test proceeded well. After completing 60% of the programme earlier in Valencia, we had quite a full-on programme here in Jerez, because we intended to make a decision on the engine specs at the end of these two days. Both Maverick and Vale have given clear feedback and have agreed on a direction, so I think we‘re close to making a decision. There do remain some different points of view on certain aspects, which we will work on clarifying during the 2019 pre-season tests, but for now we have a sense of which base we should work with. We were looking for smooth power delivery and engine brake, which is especially something Maverick was asking for, because it suits his riding style. We also worked on improving the tyre life, which was a concern during the 2018 season. We‘ve made progress, but we need to keep working. The engineers in Italy and Japan will go over the data thoroughly to come up with further steps to try at the first upcoming test in Sepang, at the start of February, next year.”
In the Petronas Yamaha SRT garage, it was another good day for both Franco Morbidelli and rookie Fabio Quartararo. For the former, a P6 finish after 68 laps and just 0.173 from the top sees him continue his quick adaptation from Honda to Yamaha.
“Today has been a very productive day. We have tried some different set-up configurations and managed to improve the race pace this morning and then the lap time this afternoon, so I am very happy about that. The two tests we have had with the team have been very positive and I feel very comfortable with the team and the people from Yamaha. We can say that we have started the preseason well, so over the winter we can study the information we have gathered and try to make the 2019 bike even better.”
For Quartararo, it was another vital 58 laps in the bag – and it was another hugely positive day. The Frenchman ended P12 on the timesheets after setting a fastest lap of 1:38.761, just over a tenth off Rossi’s fastest lap and under a second from P1.
“On this last day of the test we have improved the feeling and the lap time. We have taken a step forward and managed to try some things with the electronics, which up until now we had hardly touched. The biggest gain has been on the first contact with the throttle, in acceleration and also in corner entry. Today I could feel that the lap times were coming down and I felt fast, it was a really nice feeling. We knew that the more laps we could do with the Yamaha, the more we were going to improve. My objective today was a 1’38 lap and we did three of them. We are working on our pace, little by little, and gradually closing the gap to the fastest guys. I am really happy with how these few days have gone here in Jerez and this first phase of the 2019 preseason, so my thanks to all the team for the work they have done. Now I’m just looking forward to February!”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Team Manager
“We can say that I am a happy Team Manager. After just two tests everything is going pretty well for the team and in terms of the lap times we are competing with the fastest guys. To have Franco [Morbidelli] finish sixth and Fabio [Quartararo] twelfth is much more than we could have hoped for. In general, we are very satisfied with the results. There has been no pressure and no problems, and our riders are happy and fast. As far as this winter is concerned we have a lot to do to get ready for Sepang, because we are competing against teams with more than 25 years of experience in the paddock and we are still new. To be competitive you need a good bike and good riders and we have that, but we also need to grow as an organisation until we reach the maximum in every aspect.”
Meanwhile Ducati were the only manufacturer, according to Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), who weren’t on engine duty – they were confirming, successfully, their results from the Valencia test. The Borgo Panigale factory were focused elsewhere, including some time working on a seat modification first seen on Day 1 ridden by test rider stand-in Alvaro Bautista.
Despite a tumble on Wednesday, Dovizioso put in 44 laps – saying he didn’t feel limited by the crash – with a fastest of 1:38.292 to put him in P8, and it was new teammate Danilo Petrucci who flew the flag highest in fifth, a 1:38.109 his fastest of 68 laps.
“After four days of testing at Valencia and Jerez, I’m very happy with the work that we have done. We tested many different solutions but my feeling with the bike has always been good and so I’m satisfied. For me this is the first time in a factory team, with a new way of working, but I’m really very happy with the atmosphere I found in the box. In these days we’ve collected a lot of important data to work with over the winter and develop the best solutions for next year.”
“Luckily I’m OK physically and I didn’t have any problems with my hand, so we were able to carry out all the work programme, which was very important to develop the last aspects of the new material before the winter break. I’m pleased because we were able to understand the differences between the various solutions better than yesterday and we have ended these last two tests of 2018 at Valencia and Jerez with some good feedback. For the first time we have managed to put the 2019-spec bike on track in these end-of-year tests, and for us that’s a very important step forward: our speed is good and I’m very happy with the work we’ve done.”
“Also today we tried a lot of different solutions and did a lot of laps as well as managing to complete the work schedule we had planned without any setbacks. This is always important to collect all the data necessary to develop the bike for next year. On my side I’m grateful to Ducati for the trust they’ve put in me and from tomorrow onwards I’ll be concentrating once again on Superbike, which is my new objective and which is a project that means a lot to me.”
Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) had an impressive day on track, including a lot of time spent working on different setups that “seemed to work better and better” every time they made a change. He was fastest for a brief time in the afternoon, and ended the day in P7 overall after 57 laps, the best of which was a 1:38.207.
“We did a really good test. We have tried many different set ups and things on the bike working also on ergonomics. There are a lot of experiments and a lot of work to be done but the feelings are very positive. I am really satisfied with the way things went in the first two tests”.
Miller’s rookie teammate Francesco Bagnaia, meanwhile, made for close company and was the quickest of the new kids on the grid. The Pramac duo were split by Dovizioso but ‘Pecco’ was only just over a tenth off Miller and the Italian debutant did 50 laps, just working on getting experience – especially on used tyres.
“I’m very happy because the feeling improves lap by lap. I am also very satisfied because we were able to improve the braking phase compared to the first day of testing. We still have a lot of room for improvement, but we are certainly on the right path. Next step? Enjoy the holidays. See you in Malaysia.”
Tito Rabat was another impressive performer on Ducati machinery. The Spaniard, who is still coming back from his leg break sustained at Silverstone, managed 60 laps and ended the day in P13. The best lap from the recovering Reale Avintia Racing rider was a 1:38.876 – with teammate Karel Abraham putting in a 1:39.744 after 40 laps, taking P17.
“The test was very positive because we managed to finish within a second from the fastest rider and, considering my physical condition it is not so bad. I also understood my new bike better and I think we have a bike with a big potential. The team did a master job during the test and, with this bike and this team we have a very competitive package to be fighting for better results next season. Now we have to get stronger during the winter break.”
“I think it was a very good and productive two days of testing. Today we did manage to make another step forward to go faster and be more consistent, which is important for us. It was the last test of the season and I felt good, we were fast, we did not crash and everything we tried has worked in the right direction. Now holidays, that will be good to refresh and work to get back stronger for the first test of the year in Sepang.”
For Suzuki, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was able to continue to test the new GSX-RR engine and chassis combinations, alongside test rider Sylvain Guintoli.
Davide Brivio – Suzuki Team Manager
“Today was another good day of testing, very intense and useful. Here we had different options of chassis and engine, together with some other items like the swingarm and some electronics, so we had to work hard to define which works better. It’s a tough job, pretty boring for the riders but absolutely crucial. We have to put together all the best pieces and compose the puzzle, especially for the engine we have to take a decision now that will affect the winter work and the whole new season. We have some pressure on for this, but that’s racing and the pressure is also our motivation. All Alex, Joan and Sylvain carried out this hard work, putting together lot of information that will now be useful for the engineers, and I’m happy that Alex could also put together a positive lap time. So we can go into this winter break feeling happy and hoping for a positive restart again in February in Sepang.”
Rins was able to post the 10th quickest time on Day 2, his 1:38.522 0.577 off Nakagami’s pace as he completed 63 laps on Thursday.
“These two days have been very positive because we tried everything – new chassis, new engine, and lots of comparisons. Yesterday I was more focused on the chassis, and today more focused on the engine. This morning we started with the 2018 chassis and the new engine spec. and we tried all the suggestions that the engineers made, it was very positive. We haven’t finalised yet, but the engineers will be working on this. We’ve been working very hard and we feel like we can have a very competitive bike.”
For teammate Joan Mir, it was another 55 laps under his belt as he continues to impress, bouncing back extremely well from a fast crash on Day 1. P14 on the timesheets for the Spaniard and under a second from P1 shows the 2017 Moto3 World Champion is continuing to adapt well, and he also got to try the new Suzuki engine and chassis on Thursday.
“It was a really tough day today. We were really focused on trying the new parts because we need to prepare everything for the winter so the guys in Japan can continue their work there. It’s been a pretty positive day, we tried a little bit of everything and did some comparisons and that was useful. We weren’t focused on lap times today, it was more for me to try the engine. We have a lot of good information to send to Japan. I feel that I’m improving with every session, I still need to get more used to riding the big bike but it’s gone well.”
It was a tough test for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini with Aleix Espargaro missing the whole of Day 1 through illness, while also missing the morning of Day 2 to complete just 11 laps. In addition, after a crash on Day 1, Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was riding with an injured foot as the Italian completed 36 laps by the end of the second day to finish P18 on the timesheets. This left new test rider Bradley Smith with the majority of the testing duties, the British rider getting 59 laps done on Thursday, and Matteo Baiocco was also on circuit for the Italian factory once again – with 48 laps completed for the latter.
“Today we once again had to change our plans slightly since Aleix was unfortunately still debilitated. Our work focused on the comparison between two different engine types, a decision in anticipation of the 2019 season to try to find, above all, rideability and better power distribution. Our ideas are rather clear. During the two days of testing in Valencia and these tests, Aleix, Andrea and I had rather similar sensations and this is certainly helpful for development of the new Aprilia MotoGP bike.”
At KTM, Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was once again the quickest Austrian machine as the Spaniard put in a best of 1:39.144 after 60 laps – putting him fifteenth on the timesheets.
“It has been a busy, busy test and we tried the bike from bottom to top. Yesterday we mainly did longer runs with a used tyre and our pace is not bad but we struggled a bit today in making a single fast lap. I had a big list of things to try and it is difficult to make fast lap-times and be consistent with pace when the bike is changing so much and is ‘live’! We were trying different parameters in the engine and something for turning when the tyre drops. In the chassis we made some modifications, which I think will be an improvement for the future, and the swing arm also. The WP guys have been working quite a lot with suspension and they also have some ideas. The team will work for Malaysia and we’ll have some meetings now to see in what areas Johann wants to go as well so we can improve this bike together.”
Work continued on many different parts of the RC16, with Espargaro testing what Team Manager Mike Leitner called “bigger items”.
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Team Manager
“We came to Jerez to make a lot of base setting work so we started with the 2018 bike and brought many new items. We ‘loaded’ Pol a lot and he did a great job. We tried many aspects on the engine, chassis, aerodynamics and suspension. We have some good information now and will have to go home, work and bring the best mix to the next test in Sepang. Johann made a big step with his understanding of the bike and went into the ’39 lap-times with used tyres and that was positive. Also his feeling on the bike was getting better but for sure we still have a lot of work to do with him also. We’ll work during the winter now to be ready for Malaysia.”
Johann Zarco was getting to better grips with his switch to the machine – with Leitner confirming his adaptation to the bike and vice versa. The Frenchman was seven tenths off his teammate on Day 2.
“So, some more days with the KTM and I’m happy because I made a step that I was looking for. It gave confirmation for the technicians for which direction we have to go. We began today on a better level and I was improving my lap-time. We then moved to test different things and could not do so many laps. We are still working on my base setting. We are not working to be the fastest one out there but the base is coming better and better every time I go out, and I can see that because the lap-time is there and I can repeat it relaxed. It means this is the direction we need. This engine is giving a good feeling to go out of the corner. Even if you miss it the bike will go and this is still one of our strong points and when we go faster we will be able to use it even better.”
KTM Tech 3 Racing, meanwhile, had Hafizh Syahrin on a 1:40.520 and rookie teammate Miguel Oliveira with a best lap of 1:40.577 – only half a tenth off the Malaysian.
Hervé Poncharal-KTM Tech 3 Racing Team Manager
“The last two days of testing this year were important for everybody, but especially for KTM Tech3 Racing. We needed a lot of laps and fortunately the weather was on our side this time. We could do many kilometres. The crew together with KTM, who is helping us tremendously well are acting more and more like a KTM race team, we improve our understanding of the bike. Still, we have only one bike, so each operation in the garage takes some time, but we are happy. We feel better and better, more and more comfortable with the KTM bike. I think both Hafizh and Miguel improved their feeling and of course also improved their lap times. Obviously, the positions are not great, but we’ve been going faster almost every single run. For sure the lap time is the main point of reference at the end of the day, but the confidence both Hafizh and Miguel are having on the bike is very important, because without that confident feeling, you can’t push and this is what we’ve been working on without changing the tyres too often, without chasing the lap time, as we are not at that stage yet. I believe this was a very productive test and everybody is going to think a lot about what we have to do, what we have to improve – the riders on their side, they have a lot of things to digest. Meanwhile the whole team is going to KTM to schooling and assembling before Christmas time. I believe this is going to be a very important week as well. At the end of the day, I would like to thank the team again, because the season has been long and tough, but everybody has been working hard with a positive frame of mind all the time. I would like to thank KTM for their trust and support, because we know how important the MotoGP project is and we feel proud to be part of it. Plus, I would like to thank Hafizh Syahrin and Miguel Oliveira, obviously, as they did a good job. I’m really pleased to see Miguel with a small smile on his face at the end of this test. It’s always very interesting to take a rookie coming from Moto2 and helping to discover the MotoGP, which is what we’ve been doing again and I think it’s working. Now there is a break, everybody has to rest and we see everyone in Sepang with a positive attitude and full charged batteries.”
The KTM Tech 3 Racing duo in 54 and 61 laps respectively as they both switch machinery – the former from Yamaha and the latter from Moto2.
“For me today has not been too easy. To be honest, we expected to improve our lap time a bit more, but we still need more rear grip to find decent traction. At the moment, I feel very good with the front tyre, which is really stable, but at the same time the rear is spinning. We tried many things, but didn’t find the ideal solution yet. Now we need to think about it to find something for the next test. Overall, the two days of testing were very positive, but we are a bit far from the top. Anyway, we work hard and try to improve step by step in 2019.”
“On the last day of testing this year I was able to make a very big step compared to yesterday regarding the lap time, more than a second, so I’m happy for that. Again we understood more about the bike, about what is missing and I’m just glad that the team and me are going home with a clear idea of what we need to do on the bike and I think this is the biggest positive we took out from today. Merry Christmas!”
So that’s a wrap on official track action in 2018! The Sepang test is next to welcome bikes back on track in February.
Jerez MotoGP Test- November 2018
Day Two Times
LCR Honda IDEMITSU
Repsol Honda Team
Yamaha Factory Racing
Repsol Honda Team
Petronas Yamaha SRT
Alma Pramac Racing
Alma Pramac Racing
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR
Yamaha Factory Racing
Petronas Yamaha SRT
Reale Avintia Racing
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Ducati Test Team
Reale Avintia Racing
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Aprilia Racing Test Team
SUZUKI Test Team
KTM Tech 3 Racing
KTM Tech 3 Racing
Aprilia Racing Test Team
Jerez MotoGP Test- November 2018 Combined Day 1-2 Times
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