Maverick Viñales has topped Day 1 of the Jerez Test by quite a margin on Monday, the Spaniard ending the session over seven-tenths clear of the next fastest rider – Fabio Quartararo.
Joan Mir was third and continued his impressive run on the testing timesheets, pipping teammate Alex Rins as the Hamamatsu factory locked out third and fourth.
The day was punctuated by some drizzle and Red Flags, although the majority of riders out on track managed nearly or over 50 laps.
Viñales swung his leg over the bike for the first time in Jerez at 11 o‘clock and found a good rhythm again and began chipping away at his time while comparing various testing items. He completed 68 laps in total familiarising himself with the new engine and showed no signs of slowing down. He posted a best time of 1’37.131s on lap 60, consolidating his place at the top of the standings with a convincing 0.754s-margin over his closest rival.
“We are working a lot on the new engine trying to understand the positives and negative points of the new bike. This test is quite important for us to decide on the engines and take the right approach to further improve the engine on the track, which is our focus here. We are trying to understand the best way to work. For tomorrow my plan is the same. I need to make laps with the engine, and I also need to try the tyres, and then we will see. Even if it rains, we need to go out and try the newer stuff. For sure, we are comparing the old and new items back-to-back. The positive point is that I felt good with both bikes today, so we have two good choices, which is even better. I feel we can create a lot of potential with the new engine.”
Yamaha have now topped all three days of ‘2020’ testing so far, once with Quartararo and twice with Viñales. At Jerez, both the former and latter did 68 laps, with Franco Morbidelli in fifth adding another 75.
“It was a long day despite having great pace on the bike and we were able to try new things. The tyres were working really well, but unfortunately, it seems like every time we put a new set on the bike there was a red flag or it started to rain a little! Maverick Viñales is really fast, but we’re not far behind him and I’m feeling really good. We used a new prototype engine from Yamaha for most of the day, but it was difficult to understand all the benefits from just one day, so there’s plenty to continue with tomorrow.”
“I tried a new prototype engine specification today, and we were up to speed quite quickly with it. I had a good feeling from the bike straight away, which is very positive. We’ve still got to collect data and work on our settings, but as a first impression, it was pretty great! The plan for tomorrow is to maintain the working routine from today and aim to reconfirm the items we tried in Valencia with the new engine, but for that to happen we need the weather to play ball!”
Valentino Rossi meanwhile did 64 laps and finished the day in 14th. He and teammate Viñales had one ‘new’ and one ‘old’ Yamaha in the garage to compare, with Rossi’s 2020 machine fitted with the carbon swingarm but Viñales content without it, working on the engine. Neither Petronas Yamaha SRT rider had the carbon swingarm on Monday, although they had “some new things” to test.
“We worked a lot today, even though the weather conditions weren‘t fantastic. Every now and then we had some rain, we had to stop and start like this, but the track conditions were quite good anyway. We worked a lot on the new bike and made another comparison with the old one, and the feeling isn‘t too bad. Some things were better, and we also have some areas where we need to work.”
Alex Rins and Joan Mir were joined by Sylvain Guintoli and the rest of the test team as they continued their preparations for the 2020 season. The majority of the track action was spent as a continuation of the Valencia Test; comparing the 2019 and 2020 engine specifications.
They also worked on electronics and general set-up, with a view to building up the package ahead of the Sepang Test in February. Guintoli also spent some time with a new swing arm and adjusting other aspects of the chassis.
Mir finished the session in 3rd place, having done 56 laps, while Rins was just behind in 4th, completing 69 laps. Sylvain Guintoli closed the session 16th with a total of 63 laps.
“I’m really happy because I felt we made some improvements today. We focused on the engine and also on electronics; I also tried some new parts which helped my feel even more. I’m feeling comfortable and happy with the bike. Let’s hope the weather will be OK tomorrow so we can continue this good work.”
“Today’s test session went quite well. We tried the same things as in Valencia, like the 2020 engine spec., and we confirmed our initial findings. Tomorrow we’ll try a few more things regarding the set-up. We had some more plans for today, such as trying a fast lap with the new tyre, but unfortunately the rain arrived this afternoon and that hampered our progress.”
“Today we worked on next year’s engine, as well as some chassis work such as the swing arm. I also did some long runs and tried the new spec. Michelin rear tyre, which I found to be very good. My lap times were strong today, I did my best lap of Jerez today. Looking forward to tomorrow, fingers crossed conditions are OK.”
Honda were the next factory up, with reigning Champion Marc Marquez in sixth despite a crash at Turn 13. It was a slow lowside but in the gravel trap he hit his shoulder, heading to the Medical Centre for a check up. He’d suffered a partially dislocated right shoulder – not the one on which he had surgery this time last year – and did get back out on track but said he slowed up slightly. He had three bikes in the garage.
“Again today we tried some different things for 2020, assessing two different directions. It looks like tomorrow the weather could be a little bit tricky, so we had to alter our plan a little bit to make sure we got the most out of today. This part of the season is very important, so we have to stay very focused here and keep working. The crash today was my mistake, I ran wide and at that time the outside of the track was a little damp so I lost the front. Fortunately I am OK, I just went to the medical centre for a precautionary check.”
Where Marquez was focusing on 2020 comparisons, Cal Crutchlow was more on 2019 machinery on Monday. He was just 0.026 behind Marquez and put in 66 laps.
Rookie Alex Marquez was out in HRC and Repsol colours, and he seemed to take a step forward. The number 73 was 17th and did 70 laps, saying he found Jerez a bigger step on a MotoGP bike – but also an easier one.
“Today we tried to improve and close the distance to the front while learning how to work with my team for next year. Throughout the day we were able to make steady improvements and I was able to work a lot with used tyres, to understand how I need to change my riding to make the most out of them. We didn’t fit any new tyres at the end as it started raining a little bit, but I am happy. I think today went better than both days in Valencia as I was more comfortable right away.”
KTM were the fourth fastest factory on Monday with Pol Espargaro slotting in behind Marquez and Crutchlow on the timesheets. He did 56 laps and although he took a tumble – rider ok. He had three bikes in the garage, one ‘old’ and two ‘new’, although he spent his time out on the new. He did 56 laps and was within a tenth of Crutchlow.
Rookie teammate Brad Binder, meanwhile, remained on 2019 machinery and did 67 laps. Red Bull KTM Tech 3 rookie Iker Lecuona had a huge crash on Monday, but rider ok, and he did 38 laps. Test rider Dani Pedrosa was absent due to illness.
“Jerez is a very difficult track on the MotoGP bike, it’s not easy to go fast here and have a good feeling on the bike. For sure, I need more laps tomorrow in order to get more kilometers in. At the moment, I finished 2.802 seconds from the top, which is obviously too much. After the crash, I feel a bit bruised, but overall, I’m ok. This circuit is definitely completely different to what we had in Valencia, so I need to further adapt myself and I can’t wait to be back on the bike tomorrow.”
Ducati’s onslaught on the timesheets was led by Danilo Petrucci, back in action after missing some of Valencia due to shoulder pain, who narrowly headed teammate Andrea Dovizioso as they took P9 and P10. The former did 48 laps and the latter 45.
“It was quite a challenging day for me, because I still wasn’t entirely sure about my physical condition. My left shoulder, which was hurting me a lot at Valencia, gave me a bit of bother this morning: in the afternoon however I was better and we were able to carry out some back-to-back tests, without aiming for fast times. We mainly focussed on getting a better understanding of the new solutions present on the bike, and we certainly managed to obtain some useful indications for the future.”
Dovizioso had the new, bigger ‘salad box’ and work continued on what the duo had worked on at Valencia. Jack Miller was only 0.018 off Dovi in 11th.
“Today we were able to carry out the back-to-back comparison between the two bikes, in a much better way than at Valencia, and this was important because Jerez is a track with very different characteristics. The feedback was certainly positive, but we will have to take a closer more detailed look at all the information we accumulated and make a major effort to understand which direction to take for the next development stage.”
Test rider Michele Pirro had a technical issue and that caused a Red Flag, and a sensor was spotted on top of the tail unit on his machine.
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini were 12th and 13th, and nothing big was seen from the Noale factory although both Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone had the swingarm with a hole in it fitted.
Espargaro did 53 laps and Iannone 49. Test rider Bradley Smith had the ‘solid’ version of the swingarm and did 67 laps.
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