The reigning Champion puts in the fastest lap of the test, with Pedrosa second quickest and Zarco fastest Yamaha on Day 2
Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez followed up his sixth world title win on Sunday by going fastest in Valencia over the two days of testing, almost four tenths clear of teammate Dani Pedrosa – with a best of 1:30.033. Honda have been testing their 2018 bike as well as the 2017 and some parts on the bike with which they took the triple crown, and both men put in a combined total of over a hundred laps. LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow, meanwhile, put in a mammoth 72 laps on Day 2 to go sixth fastest as he also begins work on Honda’s 2018 push for glory.
On the second day, Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was the fastest Yamaha, and the Frenchman put in 65 laps to go third overall – just pushed back down the timesheets in the latter stages by Dani Pedrosa. The 2017 Rookie of the Year has been testing the 2017 M1, and has been positive about the bike – saying he feels more potential with it, a sentiment echoed by Tuesday’s fastest Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) on Day 1. On Day 2, Viñales was fifth fastest after 66 laps, with teammate Valentino Rossi taking P7 on the timesheets after 62 laps. Rossi spent Day 2 largely working with a new 2018 engine, and Viñales said Day 1 was more positive but the slightly different track conditions on the second day had helped compare direction for next season.
Ducati, meanwhile, saw Andrea Dovizioso get through his testing program by mid-afternoon and hit the pause button until the Borgo Panigale factory head back out on track – ending the day in P15 but satisfied – with teammate Jorge Lorenzo ending the day in P4 and in the top three for some time. Lorenzo said they got through a good program of work, but more that he understood and was able to practice some changes in his riding style to adapt to the bike – putting in 39 laps with a best of 1:30.534.
Jack Miller (Octo Pramac Racing) impressed once more in eighth on Day 2 despite a crash, putting in 45 laps on his new bike and ending the session just 0.017 ahead of Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar). Iannone, sidelined on the first day with a virus, was back out for 47 laps on Day 2 – and teammate Alex Rins put in 38 laps.
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was the last man in the top ten after 44 laps, again close to the man ahead and only 0.012 off ninth. His teammate Scot Redding, settling in on his new machine, did 56 laps and ended the day in P19.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing had another positive day, with Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith lining up in P11 and P12 respectively. With a host of new parts and new team members, positivity abounded once more – with Espargaro putting in 46 laps and Smith 39. Espargaro worked mainly on the rhythm and grip, saying a big step forward had been found.
Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was the fastest rookie in P16, turning the tables on Day 2 to end up just ahead of fellow rookie Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda). Morbidelli did 58 laps despite a crash, Nakagami 62. Xavier Simeon (Reale Avintia Racing), also a rookie and recovering from injury, put in 61 laps to take P20.
Now some teams head for Jerez for more testing, before the next official outing lights up Sepang International Circuit at the start of next season.
Marc Marquez, P1: “Today we got a lot of information but now it’s important to find the way and understand what we need, and what the plan will be for Malaysia – that will be the next time we ride the bike, in January. But today has been a good, positive day and the pace was good so I’m happy. First of all with the prototype bike we had some small problems, that’s normal when you have a new engine and bike, and we have some positives and negatives. Then on the current bike we tried some things that were working better than what we have right now – I don’t want to say it’s all confirmed but in Malaysia we will retry all these things.”
Dani Pedrosa, P2: ““I started the day with my race bike to check the track, then I moved to the new bike. After yesterday’s analysis we went further with more testing. We tried a new setup with mapping and with geometry, to understand the new bike because it’s not just about performance, it’s also about understanding what the bike is doing to the tyres and what it’s doing on the track, what’s better or worse. So we made some progress but we are still understanding what the bike is doing. But we collected as much information as we can today. We tried a new swingarm, and a new rear tyre, which is just a new compound on one side. And we tried a new fork. A lot of testing and it’s hard to pick out something good – different bikes and everything was a mix. It’s a short time for testing, and important before the break.”
Johann Zarco, P3: “It has been a great day of testing for me and I am happy to see how much I have progressed since last year. I had a very good feeling on the bike, and we were competitive with the lap time. In addition, we also worked on the pace, which is the main target in order to prepare for a race. I tested different chassis and gave my feedback to the team. Now we need to analyse everything in detail so that we know which option is the best. We will keep working but altogether, I can say that we have finished this year in a positive way.”