Less than 48 hours after the 2016 MotoGP season finale at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit, in Valencia, Spain, the 2017 Movistar Yamaha team, complete with their new pilot Maverick Vinales (in to replace Valcencia GP winner Jorge Lorenzo), returned to the track two complete two day of testing.
Amazing debut for Vinales aboard the M1
It was Vinales’ debut aboard the YZR-M1, and what a debut that turned out to be! He immediately took to the 2016 Yamaha M1 as he set out early on day one to begin familiarising himself with the machine. The Spaniard was very eager to ride, and looking incredible settled managed to set the fastest lap on the day, matching the pace of its former pilot.
Come day two, and Vinales again mounted the bike with ease and was able to quickly match the pace from day one focusing on improving the bike setup; and even went on to become the only rider to lap under 1:30. Having completed 137 laps in total of the circuit, covering approximately 450 kilometres of track, his fastest lap, lap 66 out of 76 on day two, was a magnificent 1:29.975. He is definitely going to be to look out for when the 2017 MotoGP season gets underway.
Small crash for Rossi but was able to complete what was needed
Vinales is joining nine times world champion Valentino Rossi in the Movistar Yamaha camp for the next two years. Rossi spent the two days at the Valencia Test preparing for next season. He switched between the 2016 and 2017 chassis’ and engines completing 116 laps over the two days. On day one he finished second in the rankings making it a Yamaha one-two, and on day two, although he was able to improve on his own time, finished the test with a fastest lap of 1:30.709.
Unfortunately for the Italian he experienced a crash on day one of testing. He came off at turn one midway through the day of testing, and was taken to the medical centre via scooter to be checked over. He was able to make it back out on track later on, and started day two of the meeting later making his first appearance a few hours in.
Positive two days had by Rossi despite crash
Reporting on day one, Rossi found it to be a “positive day” as he was “second the lap time was not so bad”, however he said, “I did it with the old bike”. Analysing the new chassis he said the “first feeling was OK”, however he explained that later he crashed as he “put the hard tyre on the front” which he said “on the right side doesn’t give enough grip for [their] bike”. He spoke of how he “damaged the bike” and then “didn’t have enough time to try it again”, and so his team worked on it so he could try the new chassis at some point on day two.
Rossi said it was a “long day” as they had “worked quite a lot” and that they “needed a lot of laps”. Hr confirmed that they did “a lot of comparisons between the old and the new engine, and the old and the new chassis”. He mentioned that they “also tried some tyres” and found that they “still have a lot of work to do”, but still found it “was a positive day”.
Looking ahead he confirmed that they “have to work in general on the entire package”, although he thought the “chassis has some good things” he thinks they still “need a bit more time to find the right setting”. When it came to the engine he spoke of how the one he tested was “the first evolution” and that they “still need to work to try to go faster”.
Vinales unable to speak about experience because of contract
Due to contractual agreements, as he is still assigned to Team Suzuki Ecstar, Vinales was not able to discuss anything about his experience with Yamaha. However, Team Director, Missimo Meregalli, essentially spoke on his behalf. He described day one as being a “momentous occasion and a promising start to the first pre-season MotoGP IRTA test”. He felt that after completing his first few kilometres on the bike, just as they suspected he “has taken to the bike very well”.
He confirmed that he used day one of the test to “get a feel for the YZR-M1”. On day two he felt that “Maverick’s initial nerves have gone now” and that they found he is “already very strong”. He described seeing him ”drop a 1:29s lap so shortly after his transition” as “amazing” and mentioned that they were “also very impressed with how accurate his feedback is with so few kilometres under his belt on this bike”.
Discussing Rossi’s progress during the test he felt that although they lost time with the crash, Rossi’s feedback was “very clear” and they were “satisfied with how the test has started” and with their "progress so far”. By the end of the test he found that “thanks to [Rossi’s] assessments” that they now “have a better understanding" of how certain features “affect the bike balance”. They now have data they can share with “Yamaha’s Japanese engineers so they can continue developing these items”. Overall he said, “For a first test we are already in a good position.”