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Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Wraps Up Sepang Test on Top

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Despite the changeable weather, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi completed the three-day test at the Sepang International Circuit topping the standings with a perfect 1-2.

The final day of the first Official MotoGP test of 2016 started off slowly for the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team. Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi arrived at the Malaysian track this morning ready to pick up the testing schedule where they left off yesterday, but were forced to wait for the dry line to form around the Sepang International Circuit for most of the morning. Once they headed out on track in the afternoon both riders were quick to prove their key protagonist status for 2016, finishing first and second respectively in the overall test standings.

When Lorenzo left his pit box, he immediately made his presence known as he moved to the top of the time sheets with a 2’00.882s. After his teammate briefly took over the lead, he returned to the top of the rankings with a 2’00.016s lap time just before rain clouds gathered over the Malaysian circuit again, putting a halt to the track action.

With a little more than an hour left to go, he resumed his testing and headed back out to set the first lap under the 2’00 mark of the three-day test, which only the Spaniard himself could improve on when he set a best lap of 1’59.580s. He ended the test 0.976s ahead of the rest of the field.

Teammate Rossi may have been the last of the MotoGP riders to start testing today, but he left no doubt that he was just as keen to prove his speed as his teammate. The nine-time World Champion started with a time attack and slotted into fourth place at the end of his first run. Around halfway through the final day of testing he went fastest with a time of 2’00.556s, before taking a short break as it started to rain. The Doctor hit the track for a second time with 40 minutes left on the clock and finished the day testing some different parts for his YZR-M1 to end the day in second place.

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“Today’s session has been somewhat compromised by the weather conditions. Rain has kept us in the pit box for most of the session and it’s a pity because we had many things to complete. We only had the opportunity to attempt a time attack and try some new items at the end of the session and Jorge was also able to further test the front tyres. We can be satisfied with our performances in these three days and we leave Sepang with good results; we were first and second in the standings, Jorge set an impressive lap time and we secured a lot of useful information for the future. We weren’t able to decide which chassis we will use, even if we are 80% sure of which direction to take. Concerning the tyres and the feeling and performances of our riders, we have improved significantly and we can say the same about the new software. We look forward to taking another step in Phillip Island in two weeks’ time.”

Jorge Lorenzo
1st / 1’59.580 / 105 laps / 1st overall

“The lap times speak for themselves, they were very good lap times set with new electronics and a hard rear tyres, because we can’t use the soft rear because of what happened yesterday. I’m very happy with Michelin, because they made a very big step with the feeling with the new front tyres. They did a great job, because now the feeling is closer to what we had with last year. Anyway, I felt very comfortable and fast during these three days, I’m still recovering from this illness that I have and for sure in Phillip Island we will be stronger and able to do a race simulation.”

Valentino Rossi
2nd / 2’00.556 / 147 laps / 4th overall

“I’m happy about the test and about today because, first of all, we did a good job and tried a lot of different stuff that gave some good information on how to improve the bike. I also set a 2’00.5s, I think we can work on it and do better, but I’m in second place so that’s not so bad, it was a good test. We still have to work a lot, the question mark that remains is if we go with the bike that’s more like the 2015 or the 2016 model. We will try them another time in Phillip Island, because the new one was not so bad at the end. I think all the engineers did a good job with the electronics and Michelin did a good job with the front tyres. We tried other tyres that also improved more, so I feel good about the first test. I tried the winglets, they are very interesting, they change the airflow, but I don’t feel a difference. I prefer the bike without the wings, it’s more beautiful!”

Tech3 duo power on despite contrasting weather on final day at Sepang

The Monster Yamaha Tech3 team pair concluded the opening test positively as they worked determinedly on their preparations for the 2016 season. Smith and Espargaro rode tirelessly for three days as they thoroughly examined the new Michelin tyres, the electronics package and their updated version of the Yamaha YZR-M1 for 2016. Both riders will now leave Malaysia positive and fully confident for the next test at Phillip Island.

Bradley Smith focused on completing as many laps as possible as he studied the effects of the Michelin tyres and the new electronics package over race distance. He completed 65 laps today with his total for the three day test being 179 laps, which was more than any other MotoGP rider. The 25 year old rider was also the only rider to sample the Michelin intermediate tyre after a heavy downpour of rain during the day. His time of 2’01.107 from yesterday’s session left him in 10th in the combined standings after finishing only 0.048 behind his teammate today, marking a solid effort at the opening test. Meanwhile, Pol Espargaro pushed nonstop as he worked through his testing programme and made leaps forward with the setup of his MotoGP bike whilst he collected valuable data for the approaching season. The Spanish star completed 44 laps today and finished with a best time of 2’01.870 that left him just under a second from 5th in the combined standings.

Bradley Smith
15th / 2’01.107 / 179 laps / 10th overall

“It’s been a good three days and we completed 99% of what I wanted to test which is a positive conclusion. I set a lap time that I was happy with yesterday, so today I decided to focus on race simulations and the handling of the bike when on a full fuel load. This was important as this season we are going to 22 litres of fuel that, of course, makes the Yamaha behave a bit differently compared to last year. We also thoroughly worked on the electronics in order to keep as much grip as possible when the tyre drops and by doing a race simulation today, I got to sample this first hand as well as learn the tyres behaviour in more depth. The results have given the team a clear indication of what they need to improve, and obviously, Yamaha can look at the data I’ve gathered so I am sure we can take advantage of this before we go to Phillip Island. I also tried the intermediate tyre today, which I had done in Brno as well, but this one was a different spec and it was closer to a full slick tyre. It obviously worked better in the wet conditions, but it’s no solution for real rain. It’s a bit of a gamble at the moment but I gave some information to Michelin and it will be interesting to see what happens in the future. Altogether it’s been a great three days and we leave Sepang with a clear direction of where to go next in order to progress. Already, I feel as comfortable as I did last year from a setting point of view and there’s still six days left to test.”

Pol Espargaro
16th / 2’01.870 / 118 laps / 16th overall

“Today our main focus was to increase our knowledge about the new electronics, especially in combination with the hard tyre as the grip level was quite low. In this situation, it’s really important to understand how to set up our package in order to make the bike as ridable as possible for me. However, when you try a lot of different options, it’s quite easy to get a bit confused because some are benficial and others seem to be a step backward. So we now have to analyse the data that we collected in the last three days and then design a clear plan for the upcoming test in Phillip Island. I’m already looking forward to trying the bike on another track and in different conditions, plus I’m confident that we will be much closer to the front.”