Vinales remains top of MotoGP class on Movistar Yamaha debut, as sun sets on Valencia test and 2016 season

The MotoGP class, including the new rookie additions next year, and some test riders for certain manufacturers, took to the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, Spain for the second day of official off season testing, just a few days after the Gran Premio Motul de la Communitant Valencia.

Many riders still under preventative contractual agreements

Decided throughout the 2016 MotoGP season, there will be many changes before the riders begin the next round of official testing in Sepang in January 2017, and special permission was given by certain teams to release riders to complete the test aboard their future rides, to participate on other machines for the Valencia test.

The agreement was that those riders are not permitted to discuss anything about their experience at the two day test with the media, or their future teams until they are released from their contractual agreements at the end of the year.

Michelin provide full tyre allocation for test

French tyre manufacturer Michelin, who were suppliers to the MotoGP for the first time throughout the season in 2016, brought their usual tyre allocation to the test and so the riders were limited on the number of soft compound rear tyres; that were the most popular choice at the season finale.

There was a lot of hype around the first day of testing as it was the first time to see the riders who have made changes on their new bikes. It was also the first opportunity to see some of the new 2017 machinery.

Lowes sits day two of testing out following crash

Missing from the test on day one was British rider Sam Lowes who will be completing his rookie MotoGP year in 2017 was ruled out of the session. Testing the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini RS-GP, not for the first time as he has completed a test in Misano in 2016, he came off at the end of day one at turn 12. He was taken to the hospital to be checked over, and decided to being his recovery, rest and recuperation sooner rather than later.

The was a cool start to the morning on day two, and riders were not out in as much of a rush as they were clearly feeling the strain from ending a season, celebrating in their own teams and then in the FIM Awards, and then just a day later having to undergo a hard days’ testing. The crews had some bikes outside the garages in the pit lane however warming them up.

Lorenzo leads the way on the second day of his Ducati debut

Just under 15 minutes into the seven hour session, Jorge Lorenzo was again first out aboard the Ducati Desmosedici GP16; the 2016 bike that returned to winning ways this season twice after a win each from both of their riders. He had completed just one lap on his 2017 bike at the very end of the first day.

Lorenzo made his way out on the Desmosedici GP17 two hours into the session; he had placed on it the used tyres that he had previously ran on the GP16. He was off the pace, and struggled to match his times from the day before on the newer bike; eventually he was able to bring it down. Having completed 66 laps on the second day, Lorenzo set his fastest time of the test on lap 41. He managed to lap at 1:30.744 finishing seventh overall; his time was not far off that of his future teammate’s Andrea Dovizioso’s qualifying times in Valencia.

Dovizioso, who ventured out on track with both the 2016 and 2017 models of the bike, completed 61 laps in total on day two and his 33rd lap helped him to secure the third quickest time of the day and the meeting., almost half a second of the fastest man on track.

Vinales the quickest at the Valencia test on his Movistar Yamaha debut

That man was Maverick Vinales, who on his debut at the Valencia test on the Movistar Yamaha (replacing Lorenzo) was the only man able to lap under 1:30 minutes. Having completed 76 laps, 137 laps over the two days, it was his 66th lap on the 2016 M1 that he achieved the time of 1:29.975; and he had a poor second sector so there was very much a possibility that he could have gone faster had he managed to complete the ‘perfect lap’.

It was just over half a second off the ‘Best Lap’ record that Lorenzo set in his final Qualifying on the Yamaha, and beat the circuit record lap time he set during the race finale that he won on aboard the M1. Prior to his quick lap, Vinales had claimed the top spot with a low 1:30 minute lap. He returned to the pits and switched to a new tyre before returning and completed his flier just a couple more laps in. Vinales was not offered the opportunity to test any 2017 parts, and will not get to do so until the next official test in Sepang.

Late start for Rossi

His future teammate, nine times world champion Valentino Rossi, did not venture out on track until over two and a half hours into day two of testing. Rossi had come off during day one and was possibly feeling the effects from that, however he was still able to complete 69 laps. Rossi again switched between the 2016 and 2017 M1 engines on the 2016 chassis. He finished the day and the test in seventh overall. His fastest lap time of 1:30.709 was 0.734 seconds off Vinales’ time and came around the hottest part of the day with over two hours remaining.

2016 MotoGP Champion second overall

The 2016 MotoGP champion Marc Marquez was the second man out on track on the second day of testing in Valencia aboard the Repsol Honda. He first took to the track on the 2016 model and later switched between that and the 2016 Honda. He was the man on the top of the timesheets for the majority of the day, until Vinales came along that is. Vinales’ time sparked the Spaniard to go out and push again, and although he was quicker over the first two sectors, he lost time in the final two and had to settle as being the second quickest man on the day and during the test.

He completed 131 laps over the two days, and lap 58 was his most successful. His time of 1:30.171 was almost a second improvement from his times the day before, but was still 0.196 seconds slower than the Spaniard on his debut. His day was not trouble free as he had a slightly embarrassing spill.

Oops a daisy….

Over 100 minutes into the session, upon entering turn two, Marquez had a wobble and ended up having to miss the apex and instead run wide which he did successfully. He slowed before the tarmac ran out and kept it upright heading into the gravel.

He looked to be making a smooth transition back to the track, but got a little bit keen once he had turned the bike around and gave the throttle a big handful. This resulted in him spinning the rear tyre of the bike in the gravel; the back spun and threw him off the side of the bike. After several attempts of failing to restart the bike he was forced to find another way back to his pit garage.

Dani Pedrosa, who also renewed his contract for two years with Repsol Honda, also tested both the 2016 and 2017 model. A very injured Pedrosa made a much better impression on day two, as he managed to improve by five positions overall after he reduced his best time from day one by 0.620 seconds after completing 41 laps on the second day (83 in total), finishing fifth overall.

Tough day at the office for Team Suzuki Ecstar

Unfortunately for the Team Suzuki Ecstar crew, it was a very troublesome day on day two of the Valencia test. Both of their new riders Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins made an early start in the morning. Rins will complete his rookie year in the MotoGP class next year, and has made quite an impression on the evolving bike; especially considering it his just his second day on a MotoGP bike.

Unfortunately for the Spaniard, who is already carrying injury from the 2016 Moto2 season, he came off 45 minutes into the session. It was a big off for him at the turn 12; a fast turn. The bike flew through the gravel and hit the tyre wall ending up in bits. But poor Rins slid along on his back and eventually came to a halt near his bike. He was hurt, and made it up on to his knees trying to stand up but had to lie back down.

He required assistance at the side of the track, as Marshals picked up the bits of his bike, medics attended to him as he lay in the gravel, before putting him on a stretcher and transferring him to the medical centre via ambulance. His team patiently waited for news outside the centre, and sadly he had to be transferred to the local Nisa 9 de Octubre Hospital in Valencia for further checks. When he left the med centre he was conscious on a full spinal board with a neck brace and a drip, and waved to the cameras to offer some reassurance although he was clearly in pain.

Rookie Rins injured and will have to sit out unofficial test

It turned out that the Spaniard had compressed two vertebrae in his spine, and would have to stay in hospital overnight before being transferred back to hospital in Barcelona. He will be ruled out for at least a month, and will miss the unofficial tests coming up in Jerez. Rins had only managed to complete five laps on day two, 76 in total, and ended up 23rd overall. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Iannone’s crash causes red flag

Things went from bad to worse for the Suzuki team, as Iannone also crashed out after an hour of the session had passed. He came off at the same corner as his future teammate in a very similar crash. His GSX-RR hit the tyre wall hard, and caused so much damage that the session had to be red-flagged; the clock remained counting down however.

Marshals picked up the bits of his GSX-RR that were scattered amongst the gravel as Iannone sat on the other side on some tyres, dazed. He looked very subdued as he supported his right arm that he appeared to be in pain with; he was able to return to the pits on the back of a scooter.

The damage his bike caused threw the paddock into discussion and safety officer, and former MotoGP legend, Loris Capirossi was then seen liaising with the riders; after talking to a group of them, he visited the remainder one by one in their garages to discuss things further. They decided to implement a new air-fence at the turn to try and cushion the blow more should any more riders come off. It meant that the session remained at a halt for approximately 90 minutes in total, and the session was extended by 30 minutes to make up for time lost.

Iannone fourth overall on Suzuki debut, despite crash

Fortunately, although he was injured as he was seen with ice on his right elbow, Iannone was able to return to the track later on in the session. He was able to return to the amazing form he had shown from day one, and after two crashes and 92 laps, he managed to complete the day and the test in fourth overall; his fastest lap came on lap 47 out of 51 on day two with a time of 1:30.599, a great result for just his second day on a Suzuki.

The Suzuki Test Team rider Takuya Tsuda, led the way out when the session got underway again after the changes to the track were completed. He covered the most ground on day two of the test however out of all the riders that remained on track, he still remained bottom of the timesheets despite completing 77 laps; he was over three seconds off the pace by the end of the meeting.

Crutchlow the top independent team rider

Cal Crutchlow again finished as the highest independent team rider aboard his LCR Honda (2016 and 2017 models were available), and after completing 63 laps he remained the sixth quickest with a time of 1:30.709. Crutchlow will have to undergo surgery on his middle finger of his right hand, and is most likely looking for to a hard-earned and well-deserved rest over the winter.

Aleix Espargaro again comfortable on the Aprilia

Aleix Espargaro, teammate to Lowes who sat out, again made a great impression on day two of testing his new machine for 2017, the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini RS-GP. As soon as he went out on track his lap times were low and consistent and he at one point made it up to second on the leaderboard. He finished ninth quickest after completing 61 laps, 122 in total and finished with a time of 1:30.885, again bypassing the times set by 2016 riders Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl at the season finale.

Folger remains the fastest MotoGP rookie after the Valencia test

Completing the top 10 at the end of the two day test, and taking the crown as the fastest rookie, was Jonas Folger making his MotoGP debut with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha time. He too was able to lap low and consistent times and was less than a second off the pace set by Vinales with his fastest lap occurring towards the end of his day on lap 62 out of 63 with a time of 1:30.069; beating the time set by former jockey Pol Espargaro that gained him sixth on the grid in qualifying.

He and his future teammate, double Moto2 champion Johann Zarco will definitely be two riders to watch. Zarco finished 11th quickest just 0.067 seconds behind Folger after completing 61 laps. He too was not far off the pace set by Pol and also matched Bradley Smith’s time too.

On his second day with his new bike, Bautista was able to finish 14th after completing 69 laps (127 in total) on the Pull & Bear Aspar Ducati, despite having a spill midway through the session. Three hours into day two, he came off at turn two of the track; his bike slid into the gravel and he was able to get straight to his feet and run to it to recover it. He was able to make it out on the bike later on after managing to get it back to the pits.

Crash for Bautista as he adjusts to the Ducati

Teammate to Bautista, Karol Abraham, who is returning to the MotoGP for the 2017 season, appears to have struggled upon his return; no one can blame him as a lot has changed since then. He made an early start to the day, and despite trying to tag onto the back of the 2016 champion, and completing 41 laps, he was still over 2.7 seconds off the pace in 22nd; he did manage to improve his quickest times overall by over half a second.

The remainder of the MotoGP riders and test riders all spent a lot of time on track at the first official test of 2017. All of the riders were able to improve on their times from the first day as they set about testing changes, settings and tyres under the blue sky.

Jack Miller, who was following Vinales on track came off his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda at turn one almost five hours into the test. Already battered and bruised from an enduring season for the Australian, he was able to get straight up to his feet and had to complete a long walk to his bike that had ended up on the other side of the gravel trap, having just missed contact with the wall. Hopefully he gets to rest before he is called up for more babysitting duties or the Crutchlow’s.

Season officially draws to a close

The test came to an end as the sun began to set in Valencia. A lot of riders called it a day early, and only a few remained for the 10 minute session after the test, to practice their starts from the grid. Overall, 2,780 laps were covering a distance of over 11,000 kilometres (almost 7000 miles) by the grid of 25 riders, 23 of whom will make up the 2017 grid.

This is the last official test for the MotoGP class of the year, meaning that the season officially drew to a close in Valencia. However, certain teams will be completing private test for their 2016 teams in both Jerez and Sepang, as well as their own personal training they will complete, before they return, hopefully all fully fit and well rested as well as highly motivated, to the next official MotoGP test as official members of their new or existing teams on January 30th 2017 in Malaysia; and they will be able to reveal as much or as little as they want as their contracts won’t hold them back.

But what are we supposed to do now….

I am sure we will think of something, but here are the overall results from the final official off season test in Valencia 2016. We will still bring you news as we hear it throughout the winter… Happy New MotoGP Year!

Results from day one of official MotoGP testing in Valencia November 2016 -
Results from day one of official MotoGP testing in Valencia November 2016 -
Results from day two of official MotoGP testing in Valencia November 2016 -
Results from day two of official MotoGP testing in Valencia November 2016 -