Today, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders proved to have kept their form despite the winter break, with riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi ending the first day of the Sepang MotoGP Official Testing in third and eighth place respectively.
Former Moto3 World Champion and new Yamaha entry Viñales made it seem as if he had been riding the YZR-M1 for years right from the start of the pre-season test at the Sepang International circuit. He was eager to head out on track as soon as the lights turned green and, despite suffering from a lack of grip in the early stages, the Spaniard booked steady progress needing less than three hours to secure third place on the leader board with a 2‘00.128s lap, 0.447s from first.
After a short lunch break the 22-year-old continued his testing programme. Though he was unable to further improve his time, he took some valuable steps in terms of bettering the bike‘s set-up and increasing the tyre life, before rain spoiled the last two hours of the session. He wrapped up the day in third place and in a good position for tomorrow, when testing resumes.
“We have been working a lot to prepare before the race season starts and honestly I‘m quite surprised,” Vinales said. “The first day is always difficult, but I‘m feeling OK on the bike and physically good, so I‘m happy and I want to go back to working on the bike some more. We tried many things today to get a good package and now we focus on comparing many things. We‘re doing some difficult work these days before we go out to set a fast lap time, but it‘s really useful for the next few tests.”
Teammate Rossi undertook a similar testing schedule, despite not being a 100% fit. The Italian suffered from a severe headache, but didn‘t let that stop him from making some kilometres aboard the 2017 YZR-M1 in the Malaysian heat.
The nine-time World Champion had as his main goal to verify the data found at the tests in November, in order to build on it over the next two days. His pace steadily increased throughout his morning and afternoon stints, signalling his positive feeling on the bike by setting the eighth fastest time, a 2‘00.695s, 1.014s from the front. Towards the end of the day the Doctor worked on the performance of the engine and the electronics until rain dampened the track. He didn‘t further attempt to better his pace, leaving him eighth in the standings.
“The first feeling wasn‘t so bad, because in this session we finally have the ’real‘ two bikes that we will use during the championship and they are better than the first prototype that we tested in November, from many points of view,” Rossi said. “Unfortunately, it was a difficult day today."
"This morning I woke up with a very bad headache and until 12 o‘clock I wasn‘t in good shape. After that we were able to do some laps and the feeling was good. In the afternoon we had to finish the work but it started to rain, so we have to wait and hope that in the next two days we will have good track conditions. We will try some new things tomorrow. Today we worked on the engine and the electronics and found some good stuff.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP will be back on track tomorrow for a second day of testing from 10am – 6pm (circuit time, GMT+8).