Maverick Vinales tops day one of 2017 MotoGP Testing
Images by AJRN
Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) has topped the first test day for the 2017 MotoGP season, up to speed quickly before then stealing the top spot from new yet veteran teammate Valentino Rossi as the day wore on – an incredible statement of intent in his new home. With a 1:30.930, Viñales beat his 9-time World Champion teammate by only 0.020 on the first day, after Rossi led the timesheets for some time.
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Team Director
“Today has been a momentous occasion and a promising start to the first pre-season MotoGP IRTA test. Maverick made his first kilometres on the Yamaha and, just like we expected, he has taken to the bike very well. He used today just to get a feel for the YZR-M1. Valentino was very quick this morning on his 2016 bike. It was unfortunate that his crash on the bike with the 2017 frame lost us some time, because the damage was quite substantial, but the main thing is that Vale is OK. Later in the afternoon he resumed his testing plan and the feedback we got from him is very clear, so overall we are satisfied with how the test has started and with our progress so far.”
The man Vinales replaced, Jorge Lorenzo, was third quickest in his first outing with the Ducati Team – only a tenth off the top. A black-liveried 2016 Ducati preparing to meet its new rider: Lorenzo. Quick to exit the pits once action was underway.
After a few laps well off the pace, Lorenzo was soon up to speed; smiling and making adjustments in the pits in good company: test rider Casey Stoner.
One of the biggest stories of the day had a happy first chapter, as the number 99 settled into the top ten around six tenths down – and then went for a final blast around the lengthening shadows of the circuit on the 2016 bike to go red in the first two sectors and cross the line in P3 – only 0.122s down. The ‘Spartan’ then did a short run on the 2017 bike he is expected to run tomorrow.
New teammate Andrea Dovizioso was running the 2016 bike in full red and the 2017 in a full black testing livery, ending the day in fifth with a 1:31.31. ‘DesmoDovi’ was also one of the riders testing new front forks from Öhlins, alongside Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team).
Andrea Dovizioso – P5
“These two days of testing are very important for us, because they are the last ones we can do until the IRTA test at Sepang at the end of January 2017, and so we are doing everything necessary to define the details of next year’s bike. Today went well and we did several runs on the 2016 bike, both with and without wings, before switching to the new bike, which immediately proved to be very competitive, seeing as we were able to replicate virtually the same times. Tomorrow we hope the weather will remain good, because it will mean we’ll have all day to carry on with our work schedule.”
Marquez spent his first day in defence of his 2016 World Championship in P3 on the timesheets after proving an early leader in the morning. A best of 1:31.102 after 53 laps saw the reigning World Champion slot into the timesheets just 0.050s behind Ducati’s new kid on the block Lorenzo.
Marc Marquez – P4
“It has been a very long test day, because when the bikes are new, it takes a lot of time to make changes and get back out on track. We only did one stint with the bike we used in the Grand Prix, to see what condition the track was in, and then we started to work on the new bike. As a rider, it’s a bit boring because I had to wait a long time in the garage as with being everything new the engineers have to adjust a lot of things along the way, but finally we were able to try several solutions. Let’s see if tomorrow we can continue improving and make the most of the day”.
Marquez’ teammate Dani Pedrosa also led the timesheets for a window in the middle part of the day, doing 42 laps despite his ongoing recovery from a broken collarbone and registering a best of 1:31.306 – 0.376 off Viñales’ best as the ‘Baby Samurai’ closed out the top ten.
Dani Pedrosa – P10
“The first day of testing was positive because I was able to ride with both bikes and compare them. I haven’t yet tried out anything specific and instead have just been riding both of them and analysing the feeling. We had already debuted the bike before, and that’s also a good thing, although physically I didn’t push myself to the maximum since I wanted to conserve strength for tomorrow and be able to do a little more specific testing then. Hopefully the weather tomorrow will also be positive because today the track was a bit tricky at some points and we saw quite a few crashes. It has also been interesting to see the changes of riders and manufacturers, and surprising to see that they have adapted so quickly.”
There were a number of victims of Turn 10 on Day 1, including Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi falling in the morning, as well as Red Bull KTM Factory racing’s Pol Espargaro and Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone – with the latter walking more slowly away from the scene as he tested his back following a cracked vertebra sustained in FP1 at Misano in September; riders ok.
Valentino Rossi – P2
“It was a positive day, because I‘m second and the lap time was not so bad, but I did it with the old bike. With the new chassis the first feeling was OK, but after unfortunately I crashed because I put the hard tyre on the front, which on the right side doesn‘t give enough grip for our bike. I damaged the bike and I didn‘t have enough time to try it again, so now the guys are working and I will try the new chassis some other time tomorrow and we will see.”
Iannone impressed on his first day at Suzuki, fourth for much of the day before the crash and eventually ending up P7 on the timesheets, just behind fellow crasher Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda).
Marco Rigamonti – Andrea Iannone’s Crew Chief
“This has been a positive first day for us, it was mainly intended to get the first feeling with the machine, to start knowing the mechanics of the new crew and to get a first feeling on the potential of the machine. Andrea reported to me very positive feelings, we’ve worked intensively with hard-tyre testing, also how the bike reacts with the tyres dropping; and in fact, the best time came with pretty-worn tyres.Andrea started with winglets to have a first touch of the machine as it was – and then we took them away, as they are forbidden in 2017. The first runs were to get to know the machine, but he could immediately appreciate the effectiveness of the project and then already start to give us and the engineers some areas to work on. The good thing is that all the improvements he saw as possible are little steps, as the base-setting made him already feel confident and comfortable.”
Davide Brivio – Suzuki Team Manager
“I’d say this has been a good start of the 2017 season with both our new riders. Of course they had a different schedule and working plan, as their experience is very different. Andrea wanted to see how our machine is performing and find a comfortable position and base set-up, but also we were curious to hear his comments and first impressions. We were happy to hear that he liked the machine, he said he felt at ease on it, and he has already given us some areas on which we will have to work to improve. We will, of course, try to follow his feedback.Rins had a different objective: His priority was to get the first feeling with a MotoGP machine, him being a debutant in this class, and we are very happy because he is learning the process needed to ride such a kind of bike; he’s making the right steps, so we start with him a path that we will bring on. We have plans for tomorrow to explore some more options, he’s a very smart guy, very focused, and he seems to be quick in learning. It’s been a positive start with both riders; it’s only the first day so we will continue tomorrow with the scheduled working plan.”
Crutchlow, as well as riding his LCR Honda, got a taste of a full Repsol Honda machine with LCR livery – ending the session with a best of 1:31.156 after 69 laps over the day. He also suffered a crash at Turn 14 – the same place he crashed out of the 2016 season finale; rider ok.
“I was testing a new engine today, an evolution of what I tested in Aragon. As always there are some positives and some negatives, but we ran the bikes back-to-back and tried some different settings with each of the bikes – some suspension and mapping changes – and in the end it was a positive enough day. It will be a long night tonight digesting some of the information we’ve collected and we will see then what we use tomorrow.”
Compatriot Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) finished the day in P8 and three tenths off the pace, completing 71 laps, with teammate for the test, Michele Pirro, in P13 as he sits in for Danilo Petrucci – who has returned to Italy for family reasons and is missing the test.
Hector Barbera and Loris Baz began Avintia Racing’s 2017 with a solid performance, with Barbera in P9 and 0.020 ahead of Pedrosa – three tenths down on P1. The Spaniard was on the 2016 Ducati – the bike he raced in red when replacing Andrea Iannone for two races this season – with Baz a further second back in P15 as he looks to get back to full fitness after a tough season.
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini saw their new arrivals start to settle in. Aleix Espargaro ended the first day in fourteenth and 1.2s back from P1, after also proving a key member of the top ten for much of the first few hours of the session.
Sam Lowes, who does have some previous experience of the Aprilia machine following in-season tests, began his MotoGP career in earnest with a slightly more difficult day. He registered a 1:33.359 as his best lap over 63, then crashed out in the last minutes of the day – but walked away unscathed.
Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) was P11 in an impressive return to the track and only half a second back from the front, with teammate Tito Rabat putting in the most laps – 72 – and finishing up P18 on 1:32.578, a few tenths off his best from Q2 during the Valencia GP.
Alvaro Bautista had a happy return to Aspar with the Pull&Bear sponsored team, closing out day one in P12 and seven tenths off P1 – the last man on the timesheets within a second of Viñales.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s new line-up, Moto2 graduates Jonas Folger and Johann Zarco, had a good first day on track as they gradually improved laptimes, down to around a second and a half off the fastest of the day by the end of their first taste of MotoGP – and both incredibly split by only 0.015 in P16 and P17.
Jonas Folger – P16
“I’m very happy about my debut on the Yamaha because it was an exciting moment and overall, a great experience. Of course, the first outing was special and there was a large amount of information to absorb, but I started to get used to the YZR-M1 quite quickly and I’ve already learnt a lot. In addition, the team was also really helpful and they told me about what I had to change on the bike. The main goal was just to begin adapting to the Yamaha and to the MotoGP riding style, but we are all pleased about the progress. The thing that surprised me the most was the smoothness of the engine with all of that power and also the top speed, which is incredible. The bike is very impressive and it was fun to ride with such a strong yet controllable engine. Tomorrow, I aim to carry on from where we stopped but first, this evening I will study all of the data and then start comparing myself to some other riders. In addition, when I get back on the track, I will continue familiarising myself with the bike, and then we may possibly begin adjusting it later in the day.”
Johann Zarco – P17
“My debut on a MotoGP bike was very interesting, however, it was a bit tricky because I had to get used to a new motorcycle after many years in the Moto2 class. There is a lot to learn and many factors that I have to adapt to. My approach to this is to take everything step by step because of course, I will not be able to change in one session and I will need some time to comprehend everything. I am making progress and we finished in not a bad way at the end of the day and so this is the positive point. The Tech3 team understand my style of riding and I can see that with the YZR-M1, there are some really specific things that need to be undertaken in order to be fast. I have gained a lot of knowledge, but it will take time to improve and to adapt the bike, when necessary, to my style. It was a positive first day, but slightly more challenging than what I was expecting.”
With Iannone ending the day on a 1:31.165 in P6 on his first impressive showing for Suzuki, new teammate Alex Rins also had a good first day as the rookie chipped away at the laptime in his first experience of MotoGP. Completing 71 laps on his first day in the premier class, the white-liveried number 42 Suzuki got down into the 1:32s by 16:00, ending the day with a 1:32.811.
Alex Rins – P21
“This day has been a very emotional one for me. My priority, as agreed with Suzuki, was just to get a first taste of the machine, which is obviously very different from any machines I’ve ridden before. The most impressive thing, in my opinion, is the acceleration, which is really impressive. Today we started with the basic set-up and our plan was to start without any electronic control so that I could understand the machine’s performance without any filters. Then we gradually introduced some traction control and anti-wheeling, so that I could start to understand how the electronics-settings worked. The team gave me total support; everything is new and at a top level and I’m really enthusiastic of this first experience.”
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing duo Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith debuted in their new colours in P19 and P20 respectively, with Espargaro one of the fallers at Turn 10 but ending the day two tenths quicker than his recovering teammate as the pair get to grips with the switch to KTM.
Francesco ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia was another on track and completed the timesheets – getting a ride on the Aspar Ducati after winning a bet in the team that he could test the MotoGP bike if he won two races in Moto3 this season with Pull&Bear Aspar Mahindra – duly taking the victory in Assen and then in Malaysia.
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