Marc Marquez tops 2016 MotoGP Michelin Test
Marc Marquez finished the two-day test on top of the timesheets as the 2016 MotoGP season got underway in Valencia.
Having spent most of Tuesday at the Comunitat Valenciana – Ricardo Tormo adjusting to the new Michelin tyres and specification changes to next year’s bikes, Wednesday saw a number of riders get a chance to work on their 2016 bikes and setups and focus on gathering data for next year. Every single rider improved their times from Tuesday as they continued to adapt to the new machinery, with Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez setting the quickest time over the two days, a 1’31.060.
Marquez improved his time by over four-tenths on Wednesday as he continued to test the 2016 Honda RC213V, going under Jorge Lorenzo’s lap record at the track from Q2 (1’31.111) in the process, despite crashing twice over the course of the two days.
Marc Marquez – “The times and the standings at this test are not important, because we have seen that there is plenty of room for improvement. I think we all have a lot of work ahead of us with the new electronics, because it is very different to what we had before. Today we spent the whole day analysing the new Magneti Marelli software. The area we must improve the most is exiting corners, rather than engine braking and the anti-wheelie which I didn’t feel was much different – although we are still using a very basic setup. We are trying out many things and the problem is that it is a very slow process to find a good base. After each five-lap stint, you spend a lot of time in the garage waiting to go back out. We also tried the new engine, although there are still many things to setup and we have to first focus on the electronics before studying that properly.”
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Viñales ended the two days in second, just 0.103s behind the pace of Marquez, after completing 57 laps on the second day. This feat was made even more impressive by the fact that Suzuki announced that they would not be debuting the 2016 GSX-RR with a seamless-shift gearbox until the Sepang test in February.
Maverick Vinales – “This day has been positive for us, we could continue improving and my feeling is getting better and better. In these two days we have only tested the new tyres, because they were completely new for me and I needed to focus on their feeling, and I must say that I feel very comfortable. We still have a lot to do and so many areas that can be improved, but this is positive because today we started to better understand some behaviour of the bike on the tyres and make some first plans for future development. The grip at the rear is very positive, it gives me much confidence and I can take different lines around the circuit that I prefer. The front though needs some more work. I have had some crashes in these last two days and we need to understand what makes the front tyre suddenly lose grip. Our feeling is that the peculiarities of the Michelin require us to load more weight to the front-end, this can come from my riding style and also from geometry and set-up. For sure, we still need to learn a lot, we are only at the beginning of our understanding and definitely need to go more in-depth. The test in Malaysia will be crucial in this sense; they will be two days very useful for us as we will start to do some more important intervention in the set-up. Today’s result gives me much more enthusiasm, it is good when you feel that you have done a lot of work but you are comfortable because you also know where you can improve.”
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) was only seventeen-thousandths of a second further back in third as he completed 60 laps on Wednesday, ahead of the second GSX-RR of Aleix Espargaro (+0.152s) in fourth who put in 55 laps.
Dani Pedrosa – “This test went well and we’ve been really lucky with the weather! Overall, we’ve had two days that have been useful for gaining confidence with the new tyres and getting a first impression with working with the new electronics. Since we introduced these electronics, we have realised that there are some serious problems and we have tried to understand them. Last night the entire team worked very late to have a better setup for today. We also tested the new engine, but right now – with the electronics as they are – it is very difficult to evaluate it properly. We need more time in order to go to the next test with a good foundation, one that allows us to obtain better information about the new engine.”
Aleix Espargaro – “This second day was positive as well, this morning I struggled to find a good feeling and finally I also crashed; my third time in these two days, and so with my crew we decided to change the bike a lot to see how it reacted. The new balance gave me better feeling, I can exploit the extreme grip of the rear and also exploit the front better, which was the weak point yesterday. Indeed, it is still something that we have to improve, we know more and more about the tyres’ characteristics and now we will start to apply modifications to the geometry and set-up to see how it goes. We already have some directions and the test we will do in Sepang in a couple of weeks will be very useful. I am also curious to try the new software. At the end of the day I must say I’m happy following this first test with Michelin, there are so many areas that can be improved but my feeling is already positive.”
The 2015 MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo improved by over a half a second from Tuesday to end the day in fifth, just 0.222s behind the pace of Marquez, setting his best time on his penultimate lap from a total of 48 on Wednesday.
Jorge Lorenzo – “The 2016 machine we tried in Aragon is the bike that‘s adapted to the Michelin tyres to get the best performance. The fuel tank is on the back, behind the seat, before it was in front of the rider. Today we focused on the electronics, as our lap times are still half a second slower than the lap time we made with the old version. The other thing we worked on is the front tyres of Michelin, which we are still trying to improve. I felt for example that under braking the rear is very grippy in the centre of the tyre but when you start leaning with the front whilst still braking, the front gives you more instability and you can‘t push so much with the brakes. I used the 2016 electronics all day. Yesterday neither the power nor the engine brake was giving the best performance, so they worked on that for the next morning and today I felt that it was much better and we improved quite a bit during the whole day.”
LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow (+0.434s) was the leading Satellite rider in sixth; just 0.004s ahead of Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi (+0.438s), with the Brit crashing on Wednesday as he lost the front at turn 1.
Cal Crutchlow – “We’ve done a good job overall, I was pleased with my pace and made one of my fastest laps with nearly 25 laps on the tyres. This is a positive situation to be in. We had a small crash in turn one, using a new Michelin tyre that nobody else had used all day and unfortunately I slid out on my first flying lap of the run. Obviously I was disappointed to crash, but there have been many similar over these two days with the front tyre. We went back out after that though, and I was able to push a bit and set my best lap on a chassis that was not my preferred option, and with an engine with lots of mileage on it. So there were positives and we’ll speak to Honda about how to improve the feeling of things for next year. I think we had a good test here and it’s great to be fast immediately with the Michelin tyres. I’m going to be staying in the Isle of Man for a while now, and I look forward to getting back training, but before that I’m going to have a couple of weeks off because I think we deserve it!”
The ‘Doctor’ showed that 2016 might be another close fight between the two Yamaha riders as he finished in sixth after improving by almost a second on Wednesday, ending the test just over two-tenths off the pace of Lorenzo.
Valentino Rossi – “The second day, for us, was quite positive. It was a long day, I did a lot of laps and I tried to improve my feeling with the new tyres. I‘m quite happy because in the afternoon my lap times were not so bad. I did long runs to understand the tyres and I was always quite fast. We improved the bike a lot compared to yesterday and the tyres, especially the front gave a better feedback and this is the most important. We also worked a little bit on the electronics systems for next year, which has already improved a lot compared to yesterday, but we still have work to do. For me we need to continue to work, because it looks like we are a bit more in trouble with the Michelin tyre, especially corner entry and weight distribution. For sure, this is just the first step, but it‘s not so bad because we improved by a second compared to yesterday so we just have to make some more kilometres.”
Pol Espargaro also crashed on Tuesday as he lost the front at turn 12 but recovered to end the test in eighth, with Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) in ninth as the leading Ducati and Bradley Smith (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) completing the top ten.
Andrea Iannone – “I am pleased with how well I got used to the Michelin tyres: overall I’ve got quite a clear idea on the riding style you have to use and in next year’s tests I feel sure we will continue to make progress. Today we also tried the unified software and in the end it went well because I always managed to improve, and we did other chassis set-up tests, using the bike the way it was during the race weekend. I am quite satisfied, but not with the final result because my goal is to always be amongst the best, and instead a ninth place does not live up to my expectations.”
The Avintia Racing duo of Loris Baz and Hector Barbera finished in 12th and 14th respectively on their GP14.2’s, with Scott Redding on the Octo Pramac Racing GP15 Ducati sandwiched between them in 13th. All three were quicker than the Factory Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso in 15th, with the Italian completing 62 laps on Wednesday.
Andrea Dovizioso – “It was an important test because we had to get a good idea of how the new Michelin tyres behave, and that’s the most important thing at the moment in order to be able to go strongly. In these two days we have worked a lot and I believe that we have managed to give important feedback for the development. Towards the end of the day I also used the new software, which is a bit different from what we were used to, but all things considered I felt OK and I am happy with the way things went.”
Australian Jack Miller, who has switched to the Marc VDS Racing team for 2016, was 16th fastest, just ahead of Irishman Eugene Laverty on the Aspar MotoGP Team Ducati GP14.2 in 17th.
Jack Miller – “I’ve really enjoyed my time on the new bike over the two days; the electronics and the seamless gearbox make a big difference. You don’t have to worry about keeping the bike in a straight line or it stepping out unexpectedly, so you can focus on the other things, like trying to hit the same line on every lap. I felt smoother and smoother on the bike with every exit and that was reflected in the consistency of my lap times. Unfortunately we had three small offs, but that’s to be expected when you’re pushing on new tyres. The Michelin tyres are great, but they are very different in character to the Bridgestones and we will need time to make the transition. Getting a feeling for the tyres has been one key point of this test and going fast has been another.”
Eugene Laverty – “The most important thing was to finish this test in a positive way because we lost time over the past two days because I crashed three times. With just one bike we lost a lot of hours in repairs. We started off pretty quickly and on just my second outing I matched my best lap on the Honda, but the crashes slowed our progress. In the end we found the cause of the crashes, made some changes to the setting and then I could go fast. Basically the reason was that the chassis balance was too much in the Bridgestone style, and so was my riding. With a new bike and new tyres there is always a period of adjustment but the important thing is that we got there in the end. At 3:30pm today I wasn’t happy but in the last hour and a half we made a lot of progress, the bike started to feel like my own and now I can leave the test happy. As far as the new tyres are concerned I think they can suit my style and I should be able to make the most of the good grip on the rear, which should suit the Ducati too. I am excited, there is plenty of reason for optimism. Even on my fastest lap today I sacrificed the right-handers because I’d had a few crashes there so didn’t want to take any risks. To set that lap time without pushing in every corner, I’m happy. We are not too far from the top Ducati so the goal for the next test is to close that gap.”
Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), who is the only new face in the MotoGP field for 2016, finished in 18th on the combined timesheets as he made his debut in the class after making the step up from Moto2.
Tito Rabat – “I did a lot of laps on the first day to get a feel for the Honda RC213V and the Michelin tyres and I was quite pleased with my lap time. Today I did fewer laps but we made a small improvement to the lap time and my pace was consistent, which is important. Riding the MotoGP bike is more physically demanding than the Moto2 bike I’m used to and, after the marathon session yesterday, this morning I had some pain and inflammation in my injured wrist. This made it difficult to change direction quickly, but it also meant I couldn’t be so precise with my line through the corners so we ended the test a little early. Overall I’m happy. I have a good feeling with both the bike and tyres and I have enjoyed working with my new crew. The communication is good and their experience has helped me make the transition to MotoGP more quickly. Now I have two months for my wrist to recover and to focus on training, before heading to Malaysia for the next test, for which I can’t wait!”
Yonny Hernandez ended the test in 20th overall, sandwiched in-between the two Aprilia Racing Team Gresini bikes of Stefan Bradl (19th) and Alvaro Bautista (21st).
Yonny Hernández – “Even though the position is not spectacular we finished just 1.5 seconds off the best lap time today and even that is not a true reflection because we are still working with the Open electronics, which we won’t be using next year. We will try the new material in the next test at Jerez but the important thing for now is that we have gathered a lot of information that will be useful to us in that test. The team has a lot of work to do to get to know this bike and I need to adapt to the tyres. It has been a positive test and I am sure that we will take a step forward at Jerez. It is incredible how many crashes there have been here; from our side we just tried to be careful and build our confidence. The relationship with the team has been fabulous from the first minute, the technical staff are top quality and my feeling has been fantastic. Hopefully we can gradually build things up and improve our level.”
Alvaro Bautista – “These were two very intense days with the big change being the tyres and we still need to do a lot of work on them. The rear end performance is already quite good, but there is still a lot of room for improvement on the feeling with the front end. We will definitely have to change a lot both in terms of settings on the bike and riding style. To take the best advantage of the new tyres you have to favour braking with the bike straight. They have different characteristics compared to what we were accustomed to and it will take time to find the right compromise.”
Stefan Bradl – “These were definitely two demanding days of testing because the Michelins have a very different feeling than what we were accustomed to, especially the front, and that caused a lot of crashes. So we worked a lot on the bike setup to try and improve this feeling and to get the tyres to work as best as possible. We worked on fork adjustments, geometries and weight distribution. We still haven’t achieved the results we had hoped for, but it was important to begin this job. At the end of the month we’ll go to Jerez so we can continue this adaptation process on another track as well.”
Over the course of the two-day test there were a number of front-end crashes for riders as they adjusted to the new demands of the Michelin tyres and spec ECU systems, but no one was injured.
The riders and teams will be back on track together at the next test in Sepang on the 1st February 2016.
MotoGP 2016 Test Times
- MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA Repsol Honda Team 1’31.060
- VINALES Maverick 25 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar 1’31.163
- PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA Repsol Honda Team 1’31.180
- ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar 1’31.212
- LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’31.282
- CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR LCR Honda 1’31.494
- ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’31.498
- ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’31.619
- IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA Ducati Team 1’31.619
- SMITH Bradley 38 GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’31.694
- PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA Octo Pramac Racing 1’31.717
- BAZ Loris 76 FRA Avintia Racing 1’31.796
- REDDING Scott 45 GBR Octo Pramac Racing 1’31.901
- BARBERA Hector 8 SPA Avintia Racing 1’31.937
- DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA Ducati Team 1’31.967
- MILLER Jack 43 AUS Marc VDS Racing Team 1’32.100
- LAVERTY Eugene 50 IRE Aspar MotoGP Team 1’32.377
- RABAT Tito 53 SPA Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS 1’32.402
- BRADL Stefan 6 GER Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1’32.492
- HERNANDEZ Yonny 68 COL Aspar MotoGP Team 1’32.510
- BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1’32.847
- PIRRO Michele 51 ITA Ducati Team 1’33.568
- TSUDA Takuya 22 JPN Suzuki Test Team 1’33.797
- DI MEGLIO Mike 63 FRA Avintia Racing 1’34.372
- AOKI Nobuatsu 12 JPN Suzuki Test Team 1’36.338