Maverick Vinales tops day two – Marc Marquez crashes
Once again it was Hiroshi Aoyama and Michele Pirro who were the first out of the pits at the Qatar Test, the rest of the field beginning to slowly trickle out of the pits some hours later when track conditions improved. Valentino Rossi was the first full-time Grand Prix rider out on track, but quickly returned to his box after an exploratory run.
A fall for Michele Pirro, who is replacing the injured Danilo Petrucci for the Qatar Test, left the Octo Pramac Yakhnich team with substantial work to do repairing his damaged GP15. Fortunately Pirro escaped injury and completed a total of 21 laps.
After his exploratory run, Rossi seized control of the time sheets during the early stages of the second day, Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo then battling it out for the top spot as the halfway point of the test approached. Ducati continued to show well with all their bikes, Andrea Iannone, Hector Barbera and Scott Redding close to the top five throughout the day.
Aside from their own testing plans, the MotoGP World Championship riders were also tasked with testing new tyre options brought to the Losail International Circuit by Michelin. Many riders were also able to do race runs, Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso and Loris Baz all putting in their longest consecutive runs of the test so far.
There was a flurry of activity with under three hours to go as Maverick Viñales set a 1’55.436 to top the second day of testing. This was also the fastest lap of the test so far; proving his pace in Phillip Island was no fluke.
“This was another positive day, not only for the fastest lap but also for the huge job we have done. The step-by-step approach is paying back and my lap-times are good also in terms of pace. Although we worked hard to prepare for the races, I scored the best time and this gives us very good hopes. I’m still working to decide the chassis, we’re still trying both the 2015 and 2016, because we still have issues to verify and room for improvement. The positive is that although my best lap came with the 2015 chassis, the lap times are very close between the old one and the new one, leaving us with many options. As I said, I focused to prepare for the race, so today there was not time to try the new seamless gearbox, as we want to check things within all our configurations. Tomorrow may be the right chance to test it, even though we have also planned a race simulation to verify our consistency on the long distance. For now I’m positive, the leading position is a good feeling although I’m aware there is still a lot to do.”
Andrea Iannone continued his run as the top Ducati rider with a 1’55.508, a minuscule 0.072s back on Viñales’ fastest time. The Ducati Team rider completed 41 laps as he once more focused on smaller runs of five or six laps, continually making adjustments to his 2016 Desmosedici GP.
“Today was again very positive: we are working well, getting a better idea of the tyres and the new bike and we managed to improve a bit more on yesterday. We still have to work on some aspects, but in my opinion we’ve got a very good, competitive package at this track, and there is room for improvement. I am pleased with the support that I always get from the guys in my team, and tomorrow we will continue with our work schedule. It was a pity that this evening we had to stop a bit earlier than expected: we wanted to do a long-run and it would have been great to gather some data in view of the race. Unfortunately a minor technical problem prevented us from carrying on, but we can make up for this tomorrow.”
It was a ferociously tight top three as Jorge Lorenzo made it three different manufacturers within 0.1s at the top, the triple MotoGP World Champion setting a 1’55.535 to end 0.099s behind Viñales on the second day. This time was 0.1s back on his best time from Wednesday, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP man second on combined times across the two days with Iannone behind in third.
“Today it has been a little bit more difficult for us to go faster than yesterday, because the track seemed a little more slippery. We tried many things to solve the electronics and the tyres and, although we didn’t make any big improvements, we‘re still in the top three, that‘s a good thing. I also did longer stints to understand the behaviour of the bike after some laps, so I‘m satisfied because I could keep a higher pace during more laps than yesterday.”
Scott Redding and Hector Barbera were once again inside the top five with both riders getting into the 1’55s for the first time at the test. Just over 0.1s back on the factory Ducati of Iannone, Redding is feeling confident on the Ducati, finding his confidence again after a difficult year with Honda in 2015. Meanwhile Hector Barbera completed a 14 lap run on his Avintia Ducati, attempting to further his understanding of how the bike will change over race distance.
“I am very pleased with how things went today. I improved the laptime and it was a goal. I lapped a lot with hard tyre and I felt good. Then I tried the soft but I have not found many benefits. I had a lot of grip at the rear and little confidence at the front. This is the problem that we must try to solve. We do not know if this will be the race tires and tomorrow we will do other tests. All in all, though, I feel I have to be very good on the bike and also the pitch is constant even though I’m still pushing to 100%. Trying to have fun on the bike to bring back my confidence. And I’m very happy.”
“I’m happy because today we could work without any incident and from the first time out my feeling with the bike was great. I was immediately fast lapping low 56s quite easily and every time I went back on track I made improvements. We did a small race simulation, mainly to check the fuel consumption, and it was very positive because my pace was constant. Everyday the first race is closer and everyday we are more ready, improving in every test, I’m fast and I feel better with the bike. Today we finished the plan at nine so we stopped, we only have four front tyres that work with our bike, yesterday we used two, today one and we kept one for tomorrow. Once again I want to thank my team because one more day they we giving their 100%.”
With Andrea Dovizioso in sixth, Ducati riders are clearly going well at the Qatar circuit, the kilometre long straight playing to Ducati’s famously strong engine. As with Lorenzo and Barbera, Dovizioso’s focus was on longer runs throughout the second day.
“Today was another very productive day, and I am satisfied because we were able to do a lot of set-up work on various aspects of the bike. We made some small improvements and then we went out and did a race simulation at the same time as the start of the GP. I am very happy because I managed to keep a constant pace, and I even did my quickest lap three-quarters of the way through the long-run and this, in my opinion, means that we can go even faster. We are still not completely right however, because during the simulation I could see that we have to improve some details, but in general I am really satisfied.”
Seventh on day two and 0.421s back on Viñales, it was another difficult day for Dani Pedrosa and all the Honda riders. Qatar has been a difficult track for Honda in recent years and this does not look to have changed.
“We have improved a lot compared to yesterday even if I found it a little hard to get back on the pace at the beginning. Later on I was able to do almost a full race simulation and was able to gain experience with the electronics and tyres. At the end we tried to improve our feeling, which is not as good as we would like, but we must be positive and improve step by step. We tested the winglets for the first time and they certainly change the feeling we have but the first contact went well. There are some positives and some negative things, but it was only the first prototype and I guess we’ll have to change some things to improve the aerodynamics. Let’s see if tomorrow, on the last day of testing, we can take a small step forward in order to better understand where we can be in the opening race.”
Pedrosa did manage to finish ahead of Valentino Rossi, the Movistar Yamaha rider in eighth on the second day and almost half a second behind his teammate once again.
“The second day was OK, I worked a lot and did a lot of laps because we have quite a lot of work to do. In the end my performance was not fantastic in the lap and the position because I‘m a little bit worse compared to yesterday, but in reality we didn‘t do a real time attack because we tried to save some tyres because it‘s important for tomorrow. We don‘t have a lot of tyres, so we’re trying to manage. I think tomorrow will be very important for trying to understand our potential in a better way and especially for trying to improve the lap time and also for making a long run and try to understand our pace.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Team Director
“After some very positive results yesterday, we had some unexpected difficulties today finding grip. It‘s been a different scenario to work with and therefore we mainly focused our attention on the bike‘s setup and the electronics. The quantity of the front tyres was a bit tight for the testing we had originally planned, so instead we mainly worked on the balance of the bike as opposed to doing a time attack. We also tested some new items that were a part of today‘s scheduled testing programme. Tomorrow we will continue to fine-tune the settings based on the results we got today and we will follow this up with a time attack as well as a race simulation.”
Marc Marquez made an explosive start to the test, almost immediately improving his best time by half a second during his opening laps. Unfortunately a fast crash at Turn 1 dented his confidence and saw him unable to improve his time. His 1’56.046 was an improvement of half a second over Wednesday, but saw ninth on the second day and ninth overall.
“We have taken some steps forward from yesterday. We have improved the feeling when cornering – the bike turns in a little more – and that has allowed us to lower our times slightly, but we still have some problems exiting corners. The pace we have is good although we are still finding it difficult to get rear grip. The lap times are the same with both with new and used tyres; we could not take advantage of the new rubber and that is something we are working on the most. In the last run we tested some small winglets and we will have to analyse them well, because we only used them for one four-lap stint, so there will be further research and development. It is only the first prototype. Tomorrow we will try to take another step forward.”
Completing the top ten was Aleix Espargaro who was able to sample the fully seamless gearbox on his Team Suzuki Ecstar machine for the first time. This was mostly a shakedown test and to ensure that the gearbox is reliable as he and the team aim to implement it for the first race.
“Finally today was a positive one for me, probably the best day in the whole testing sessions. I can’t say I’m happy, but I definitely feel satisfied. I found a good feeling with my bike and improved the lap times. Although I’m not in a good position in the classification, the work we have done on the consistency is very positive and I feel my pace is pretty good. We still have some issues with my confidence with the front; I’m a very aggressive rider and I like to feel totally comfortable in entering the corners… that was something I had last year and now we must find back. Today we changed a lot the geometry of my machine and this proved to be a major step forward. I also had the chance to test the new full seamless gearbox: The feeling is very positive because the bike is more stable and I don’t lose RPM’s in shifting, but it is still an ‘early’ version and we need to work to finalise its configuration. For sure it is a good step forward and we have much room for improvement. My back hurts a little, but the positive of today gives me a further impulse for tomorrow, but we need to find better efficiency on the time attack and also need a race simulation in order to confirm the good feeling I have about the pace.”
As on the first day, Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro was directly behind his brother in the standings, ending 11th and a meagre 0.047s slower than his brother’s Suzuki.
It was another strong day for Loris Baz who ended the day in 12th and within a second of Viñales’ best time while performing a longer run alongside his teammate Hector Barbera.
“Today was a good day and I’m happy, but the problem are the limited number of front tyres, there are two references and one of them doesn’t work with our bike, so we only have four for three days. Yesterday we used two, so today it was not possible to use one for the time attack and one for the race simulation that we had planned. So we decided to focus on the second option. We did 18 laps and my pace was quite good, but we need to make further improvements. The positive note is that I did my best lap at the beginning of the long run and with full tank. I would like to have more tyres to do more laps tomorrow, but is the same for everybody. Overall we are doing a good job and tomorrow we’ll do one more step forward. The most important thing for this test is to work towards the race, and this is what we are doing.”
There was disappointment for Cal Crutchlow who ended the second day in 13th and unable to improve his time from the Wednesday. The LCR Honda rider managed 50 laps on the second day, the third most of any rider.
“It was a bad day today. I think it’s clear to see that we are struggling a bit. All the Honda riders are feeling some problems at the moment, and we need to keep working closely with them. At the moment it’s a little concerning because we can’t brake into the corner and turn the bike as we would like. However, we know Honda are doing a really good job for our team, and we’re giving them the best information that we can to improve things. We will see how it goes, because I was confident about being able to go fast today, but it just wasn’t possible. I think in a race situation we are probably in a bit better shape than it looks, but we still need to improve as best we can. The big problem for everybody today was the tyre allocation. There are some big vibrations from some of the tyres and so it is impossible to use them, but that meant we had one front tyre basically for the whole day today if we want to be able to ride tomorrow. We’ll keep working, and will be looking long and hard at the data overnight to feedback information to the crew and to Honda. We still have to be optimistic.”
Yonny Hernandez led Tito Rabat as the pair rounded out the top 15. Both still have significant work to do ahead of the season curtain raiser on the 20th of March.
With just 14 laps complete it was a quiet day for Bradley Smith who chose to save his limited tyres for several longer runs on Friday. Eugene Laverty was 0.403s back on the Brit as the Irish rider continues his adaptation to the GP14.2, injury upsetting his early testing in Sepang.
Having only recently revealed their new bike, both Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl continue to work well within the limits of the engine, Aprilia still uncertain of the reliability. Bautista ended the day 18th with Stefan Bradl down in 22nd.
Splitting the Aprilia pair were Jack Miller, Michele Pirro and Hiroshi Aoyama.
Action resumes on Friday at 1600 Local Time for the third and final day of MotoGP pre-season testing.
2016 MotoGP Qatar Test – Day Two Times
1. M. VIÑALES TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR 1’55.436
2. A. IANNONE DUCATI TEAM 1’55.508
3. J. LORENZO MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP 1’55.535
4. S. REDDING OCTO PRAMAC RACING 1’55.677
5. H. BARBERA AVINTIA RACING 1’55.815
6. A. DOVIZIOSO DUCATI TEAM 1’55.856
7. D. PEDROSA REPSOL HONDA TEAM 1’55.857
8. V. ROSSI MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP 1’55.947
9. M. MARQUEZ REPSOL HONDA TEAM 1’56.046
10. A. ESPARGARÒ TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR 1’56.126
11. P. ESPARGARÒ MONSTER YAMAHA TECH3 1’56.173
12. L. BAZ AVINTIA RACING 1’56.427
13. C. CRUTCHLOW LCR HONDA 1’56.584
14. Y. HERNANDEZ ASPAR MOTOGP TEAM 1’56.667
15. T. RABAT EG 0,0 MARC VDS 1’57.263
16. B. SMITH MONSTER YAMAHA TECH3 1’57.267
17. E. LAVERTY ASPAR MOTOGP TEAM 1’57.670
18. A. BAUTISTA APRILIA RACING TEAM GRESINI 1’57.721
19. J. MILLER MARC VDS RACING TEAM 1’57.789
20. M. PIRRO DUCATI TEAM 1’58.113
21. H. AOYAMA HRC TEST TEAM 1’58.347
22. S. BRADL APRILIA RACING TEAM GRESINI 1’58.418
Losail International Circuit
LOCATION Losail, Qatar
LENGTH (M) 5380
WIDTH (M) 12
POLE POSITION left
TURNS RIGHT 10
TURNS LEFT 6
RECORD LAP TIME 1’55.153 RIDER C. Stoner BIKE Ducati YEAR 2008
BEST LAP TIME 1’53.927 RIDER J. Lorenzo BIKE Yamaha YEAR 2008
V. Rossi (Yamaha) 42’35.717
A. Dovizioso (Ducati) +00.174
A. Iannone (Ducati +2.250
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