Track in better condition than during the race weekend
It was a slow start to action at Valencia as sunny skies hid cool air temperatures, but the engines soon fired up to full speed once the first forays had been made.
By the end of the first day, Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was top, taking over in P1 late in the day and ending the day two tenths clear of Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).
Maverick Viñales – P1
“On completely the same bike that I had during the Valencia GP weekend I felt much better, like I‘ve come back to my usual form. I was pushing on every single lap like always and already in the morning I felt great. I was riding low 1‘31s all day long, even with 27-28 laps on the tyre. Today I enjoyed riding a lot. I felt strong again and this is very positive. We tried many things: some were positive, others negative. I think we did a good job working on the race set-up, especially with the fuel tank completely full, we worked quite well on that area. Finally, we did the time attack and I felt like I could lower the time still more, so I feel good on the bike again. The smiles returned, that‘s very important. We have many things to try tomorrow and to reconfirm. I felt like it was my Yamaha again. I was as fast on the 2017 bike as on the 2016 bike. We see positive points with both of them. I feel well on both bikes. On the 2016 bike I can brake and enter the corner better, on the 2017 I can exit better. I rode the 2016 bike all afternoon. I have to do some more laps on the 2017 bike to make a decision between the two, but I feel the 2017 bike has more potential, if the bike is working like it was today, but if it works like it did in Sunday‘s race I don‘t know.”
Movistar Yamaha had four combinations of chassis and engine to test, with Zarco, meanwhile, setting his fastest lap on the 2017 M1. The big visual headline from the early part of the day saw Viñales head out first sporting a new aerofairing on his M1, and it wasn’t long before teammate Valentino Rossi did the same.
Johann Zarco – P2
“I am happy and I like the new bike. I started on the 2016 YZR-M1 that I rode this year in order to get some references and a feeling on the first run. Then I tried the 2017 version and overall, I have a good feeling when I am braking which is important. When you start the race, to have more control like this on the brakes means you can fight in a better way so I am pleased. I went for a fast lap on new tyres and I’m not far from my qualifying time on Saturday, but only one-tenth slower. However, I am using less energy on the bike so for me, testing the new bike was very positive.”
Hervé Poncharal – Tech3 Yamaha Team Manager
“Before I talk about today, I have to update everyone and I am pleased to say that Jonas Folger’s condition is getting better and better. However, Jonas, the doctor, myself and the team together have decided to give him some more time to rest before getting back on the bike. As a result, he will not take part in this test or the Sepang test next week. We want to give him longer to recover so that he can be as fit as possible for the Sepang test in January. With regards to Johann, Sunday was a fantastic day and an incredible way to end the championship with a brilliant race from our rider. Today it was back to work as the 2018 testing began. We didn’t know what to expect because it was the time to discover what Yamaha has prepared for us for the 2018 campaign. After a few laps on the bike that he raced on Sunday to get back into the groove, he jumped on the new version and immediately had a positive feeling on it. Everything was close to the 2016 bike but slightly better in all areas so we are very happy with that. His lap time was great and even though we decided to stop at 16:00, because of the temperature and the setting sun, which can be a bit dangerous as it shines into the riders eyes, we did some good work. Apart from the last run, we used the same tyres all day and clearly we were on top of the timesheets. Maverick just beat us in the end, yet, to be second after only a few laps means a lot, plus I am happy to see that Yamaha are 1st, 2nd and 4th. It’s only the beginning of the winter season but it’s very important to start with a positive and constructive feeling which is the case. There is one more day tomorrow and we hope the weather remains clear. We are matching our target and plans and again I have to say thanks to Yamaha for their support.”
Viñales put in 80 laps, Zarco 53 and Rossi 63, as the ‘Doctor’ took fourth on the timesheets to slot in just behind reigning World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team).
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“Today‘s results are very encouraging for the team and the riders, after a difficult end to the 2017 season. We noticed a big difference in the results and pace compared to the race weekend. For sure the conditions of the track played some part in that. The track was much better than it was during the weekend when we were suffering from a lack of grip, but we still have to find out why this is the case. Today our riders put in a lot of laps, we were able to compare this year‘s bike with last year‘s and were working on the prototype for next season. Both Maverick and Valentino had a great feeling right from the start and held on to those feelings throughout the day. Maverick regained his confidence again. Valentino had a heavy crash this morning. We’re very happy we saw him walk away from it unharmed and able to continue testing. During this first day we gathered a lot of data and will continue to compare the different chassis tomorrow.”
Just before midday there was a dramatic crash for Rossi at Turn 10, with the number 46 soon on his feet and walking over to look at the bike. Back to the pits soon after, Rossi was unhurt and headed back out.
“The day was not so bad. We had a bit more time to work on the 2016 chassis that we already tried on Sunday, and I feel good and strong. The day was quite positive, because I have a good pace and with the new tyres I could make some good lap times. I‘m in P4, not so far from the top. The feeling with the bike is also quite positive. We were able to find the right balance. The problem is that, like we know, we have rear tyre degradation. That means changing to the 2016 chassis is not enough, we have work to do, but I can confirm I‘m able to go faster on the old bike. The second run was with the new engine, that is the first 2018 prototype, but unfortunately I only did two laps and then I crashed. I hope they‘ll be able to fix it, so we can use the engine again some other time tomorrow, so I can understand it better. I think the engine can maybe be a bit faster, but it doesn‘t help solve the rear tyre degradation.”
Marquez, meanwhile, was the last man out on track and did 70 laps as he began his campaign to defend the crown – already. His best was just over a tenth slower than Zarco, and he began the day on the 2017 bike before trying a modified version and then the 2018 bike – with a new chassis, new engine, and new exhaust – “almost everything new”.
Marc Marquez – P3
“Today was a typical test day, when you need to work and be patient in the garage because everything is new. The most important thing was to understand the direction to take with the new bike, not to be the fastest rider. Of course in the morning I was fast and constant with my current bike, but then in the afternoon we moved on to the new machine, which obviously has many new things to work on to set it up. Tomorrow we’ll have the chance to collect much more data, as today I was only able to complete three runs on the 2018 bike. It has a different chassis, a different engine and other different details to set up, so now it’s important to try and understand the strong points and those that need to be improved, and then to make the best compromise.”
Teammate Dani Pedrosa did 52 laps, and ended the day in P11 after his Valencia GP victory on Sunday, also testing the 2018 bike. Cal Crutchlow, on the first LCR Honda machine, finished up in tenth after 55 laps.
Cal Crutchlow – P10
“A busy day, but a lot of sitting around waiting. We had the new HRC prototype bike and it was good. It was good to have that available to ride, we’re very grateful to HRC to have it – myself, Marc (Marquez) and Dani (Pedrosa) have got one each. It’s nice to get it so fast, it arrived yesterday, so we’ll have to continue to work well and work with Marc & Dani because we need to find the best base for us all.“We’re going through the motions; I was concentrating on some small initial tests on the bike and there were a lot positives. The adjustments are a little different because there’s a lot of new stuff. We did some good runs, but we were in and out of the pit a little bit with small things we needed to change, but tomorrow’s going to be a bit more of a busy day I think. I’m optimistic (about the new bike). It wasn’t about the position or the lap time today, we’re here to shake down the bike and do a little bit of work before going for what is probably our main test next week. So overall, it was a positive day.”
Dani Pedrosa – P11
“Today we made a few runs on the 2017 bike in the morning to understand the track, which was quite dirty in the beginning, then we focused on the new bike, beginning work on the setup. We used our standard setting, and of course because the chassis and engine are new, all the data have to be adjusted. We have to work a lot on that, which takes time. We didn’t change too many things, because we must proceed step by step. That’s quite normal, and it’s also normal that there are currently both positive aspects and others where we need to improve, but in general it was a productive day of testing.”
Jack Miller (Octo Pramac Racing) was the standout debutant as he rode a Ducati for the first time, going fifth fastest and almost immediately quicker than his fastest lap in the race on Sunday – and quicker than any lap put in during the race on Sunday.
Jack Miller – P5
“It was a very good day. It’s always a special emotion to start a new adventure. I have to say that the sensations are extremely positive. I found myself at ease on my bike and the Pramac Racing team welcomed me very pleasantly”.
Miller was the fastest Ducati, with the Borgo Panigale factory’s Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo slotting into P7 and P8 respectively – both putting in around a half century of laps.
Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) took P14 after 46 laps, just behind Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) – with the former intermediate class Champion putting in 70 laps on his first day on a Ducati.
Tito Rabat – P13
“I had very positive feelings on my first day with the Ducati and with the team. With the team, I felt good from the beginning and we connected very well, but above all, I love the bike. I rode by myself all day and I managed to clock a good lap time, but the best part was that I was able to keep a good and constant rhythm. Today we didn’t use many tyres and I’ve just been riding around the circuit to get the feeling with the bike. I was impressed by the power of the Ducati, but also by the smooth power delivery. Tomorrow, I want to keep improving little by little and if I get down to a lap time of 1’30, it would be perfect.”
Danilo Petrucci – P14
“It was a demanding day especially for the team. We worked hard on the set up trying to solve the problems we had throughout the weekend. We didn’t focus on the lap-time today but we’ll do it tomorrow on the last day of testing”.
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was sixth and fastest for the Noale factory after 51 laps, with new teammate Scott Redding settling in in P15 on Day 1.
Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) took ninth after 56 laps, with teammate Bradley Smith putting in a similar count of laps to end the day in P12 as the Austrian factory head into their sophomore season.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) was the fastest rookie in P17 after 76 laps, with reigning Moto2 Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) incredibly close behind in P18.
Taka Nakagami – P17
“Of course, it was absolutely amazing and a great feeling for me. This is a new challenge for me; a new team, new staff and everyone is very friendly and kind and have really helped me, because it’s the first time for me on this bike. There are many things to try and understand, but the team has already helped a lot and we were improving on each outing, so I think it was a good start for me.“For the team and for me, the first priority is to try and understand the bike and the electronics. We don’t care about the positions or lap times because of course it was very difficult, but as I said before we made good progress and we improved a lot and the physical side was also ok. I still have some more physical work to do, but it’s an amazing feeling to ride this bike and I was very happy to go out on it each time – I enjoyed every lap.”
Franco Morbidelli – P18
“It was a good first day and I enjoyed it a lot on the bike. It was nice to finally test a MotoGP bike and it was good to start work with my new crew, the engineers from HRC and the technicians from Michelin. The biggest differences compared to the Moto2 bike are the power, which is amazing but with a very rider friendly delivery and the braking, which is much more physically demanding than in Moto2, mainly because you arrive at the corner so much faster. We are already starting to improve the bike for me and tomorrow we’ll continue with that. Both Valentino and Marc came by me today and I think they did a slower lap in front of me, maybe to show me the lines, and that was a very emotional moment for me.”
Tom Lüthi was unable to make his planned premier class debut at Valencia today, as the Swiss rider is still recovering from the leg injury sustained in his Sepang qualifying crash three weeks ago.
The severity of the injury means that Lüthi will also miss the final test of 2017 in Jerez, but he will return to action during the first official test of 2018 at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
Standing in for Lüthi at Valencia is HRC test rider and reigning Japanese Superbike Champion, Takumi Takahashi. The 27-year-old Japanese rider posted a best time of 1’33.569 to finish the day 19th, despite walking away uninjured from a heavy crash at turn 10 late in the afternoon.
Takumi Takahashi – P19
“This is my first time here in Valencia, so this morning was all about familiarising myself with the circuit before starting to work on improving the set up of the bike. We tried many things and managed to make some improvements over the course of the day but, unfortunately, I crashed at turn 10 and that meant we stopped testing a little earlier than planned. I am looking forward to returning to the track tomorrow, when I hope we can continue to improve.”
Xavier Simeon (Reale Avintia Racing) put in 43 laps on his first run in the premier class, returning from injury and ending the day in P20. He also suffered a lowside crash earlier in the day.
Xavier Siméon – P20
“The first day was incredible. I’m very happy and excited with my MotoGP debut. The team gave me a lot of confidence and since yesterday they explained every detail of the bike. Today, we took things calmly and step by step. I experienced the carbon brakes for the first time, which was incredible, incredible, but we also worked a lot with electronics. All in all, it has been a great day. I didn’t complete many laps because my shoulder hurts more than I thought, but I’ll rest tonight to come back stronger tomorrow. I hope to continue enjoying and progressing. My technical team is incredible and they are helping me a lot. The power of the bike is impressive, but the most incredible thing is the grip of the Michelin tyres, especially the front. I think it will be hard for me to find the limit.”
Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) suffered a big crash early in the day after a mechanical problem, and went to hospital for precautionary checks. He sat out the rest of the test day, although was confirmed with no fractures.
There were more issues of a different nature at Team Suzuki Ecstar as Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins were both sidelined with a virus, and are hoping to get out on track tomorrow.
Davide Brivio – Suzuki Team Manager
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t start the first test of the 2018 season in a good way. Last night our riders were suffering the effects of a virus and they couldn’t sleep at all throughout the night. It seems like a gastrointestinal virus, so they were not able to ride today. It’s been a pity because we have some things to test, especially the new 2018 engine configuration and an evolution of the chassis we had previously examined during last tests. Hopefully, if they are able to recover well tonight, we will test tomorrow. Thankfully we have three days of testing next week in Jerez where we will have some time to evaluate what we couldn’t here. As I said, it’s a shame to be unable to test this first day because we are eager to restart after a difficult season, but in any case we are quite positive for the future.”
2018 MotoGP Testing – Valencia – Day One Test Times – November 14, 2017
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