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Movistar Yamaha Find Mojo on First Valencia Test Day

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team successfully completed the first day of the Valencia MotoGP Official Test at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit, testing various bike chassis and set-up options. Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi had positive feelings after the progress they made today and set the first and fourth fastest time respectively.

A little more than 1.5 hours into the seven-hour long test session, Viñales started proceedings. He tried exactly the same bike he rode during the Valencia race weekend as well as a new aero fairing. He immediately showed a good pace as he got on the way. After completing six laps he had moved up to second place with a 1’31.306s and then focused on working down the list of testing items.

The young gun tirelessly continued work throughout the afternoon, concentrating on the 2016 bike. He completed 80 laps in total, more than any other of the participating riders. The results of his efforts were eminent. As the sun was lowering, in the final hour of testing, the Spaniard set the fastest time of the day, a 1’30.189s, and held on to the top position by 0.200s as the session came to a close.

Rossi had left the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP pitbox just a few minutes before his teammate and set out to draw a comparison between the 2016, 2017 and 2018 chassis. He was planning to thoroughly put the 2018 engine to the test, but a little less than two hours into the session, a crash in turn ten cut his second run short. Luckily the nine-time World Champion was left unharmed and was able to proceed with his testing schedule in the afternoon.

As he returned on track it became clear that the incident hadn’t affected him. He climbed up the order, setting a 1’30.519s on lap 49. The Doctor’s impression of the 2016 bike was especially positive. He ended the day with 63 laps in total under his belt and fourth place in the standings, 0.330s behind his teammate.

Maverick Viñales
Position: 1st – Time: 1’30.189 – Laps: 80

“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.”

Valentino Rossi
Position: 4th – Time: 1’30.519 – Laps: 63

“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.”

Massimo Meregalli
Movistar 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.”

Zarco Stars Again to Finish 2nd on Opening Day of Testing in Valencia

After a truly memorable performance at the Valencia GP, Johann Zarco continued the momentum today with another notable display. He explored different options for the forthcoming season before powering to a personal best that left him in 2nd after completing 53 laps. Zarco will be the only rider for Tech3 at the post-season test as Jonas Folger continues to recover.

Johann Zarco
Position: 2nd – Time: 1’30.389 – Laps: 53

“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
Monster Yamaha Tech3 – 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 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.”