On his debut in the MotoGP class, rookie Jonas Folger, who is moving up from the Moto2 class and is joined at the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team for the 2017 MotoGP season by double Moto2 champion Johann Zarco, topped all of the rookies with his fantastic pace during the Valencia test at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, Spain.
Chance for the rookies to experience the MotoGP bike
Making their debut in the MotoGP class and for their Tech3 team, the aim for the test for the two former 600cc riders, was to familiarise themselves with a MotoGP bike, and gather as much knowledge and experience during that time.
Folger stood out out of all the rookies as he seemed to adapt very quickly, and was soon riding at a competitive pace. He completed 52 laps on day one, his quickest one (lap 51) 1:32.450, placing him 16th at the end of day one; he was just 1.520 seconds slower than leader Maverick Vinales making his debut on the factory Yamaha for the Movistar Yamaha team.
Folger the quickest rookie on day one
By the end of day two, Folger completed 63 more laps (115 in total), again lapping fastest on his penultimate lap (62) this time with a quickest time of 1:30.948.It was not only reducing his time by 1.502 seconds, but completing the top 10 as the fastest rookie, just 0.973 seconds of Vinales who again was the quickest by the end of the test.
It was an amazing feat by the German rider who finished as the second independent team rider, and ahead of many experienced MotoGP riders. Not far behind, was his future teammate Zarco who straight after claiming his second championship title, and sealing his Moto2 career with a race win in Valencia.
Zarco not far behind his tech3 teammate
On day one, Zarco finished 17th, just one place behind his teammate with his quickest time of 1:32.462 in his 59th out of his 61st lap. By the end of day two, and the end of the test, when he had completed 61 more, his fastest time of the weekend came on the 55th lap when he set a time of 1:3.105. His time was just 0.067 seconds of his teammates’ fastest time, and 1.040 seconds off leader Vinales.
Able to discuss how they got on in Valencia, as unlike some riders they are not tied to contract agreements, they shared their first experiences aboard a MotoGP bike.
Folger very happy with his MotoGP debut on the Yamaha
At the end of day one, Folger described how he was “very happy” about his debt on the Yamaha as he felt it was “an exciting moment and overall a great experience”. He said that the “first outing was special” and that there was “a large amount of information to absorb”, however he found that he “started to get used to the YZR-M1 quite quickly” and that he had already learned a lot.
He found that the team were “really helpful” and they “told him about what he had to change on the bike". He spoke of how his “main goal was just to begin adapting to the Yamaha and to the MotoGP riding style” however they were all “pleased about the progress”.
He found that the thing that surprised him the most was the “smoothness of the engine with all of that power” and he described the top speed as “incredible”. He thought that the “bike is very impressive and it was fun to ride with such a strong yet controllable engine”.
Ahead of day two his aim was to carry on where they left off and that night he planned to “study all of the date and then start comparing [himself] to some other riders”. When he got back on track he wanted to “continue familiarising” himself with the bike, with the possibility of “adjusting it later in the day”.
Folger feels the test was a success
By the end of day two, Folger over described the test as “a very successful time” for them and felt that they could “leave feeling happy about what [they] achieved”. During the second day he “continued to work a lot on [his] riding style”, and as well as that “completed a lot of laps” and although it was a “long day” they managed to collect “a large quantity of data which [they] needed to gather”.
He then went on to say that he and the Tech3 team “started to alter the bike slightly to see which direction that [they] could possibly head towards in the future”. He feels he still needs to adjust his riding style “with regards to running the worn tyres” however on the whole he felt it was “a positive day” and that he was able to “round it off by setting a good lap time”. He went on to thank he crew “for their efforts” and said he is “looking forward to getting back on [his] Yamaha in the future”.
Very interesting debut for Zarco
Zarco described his debut on a MotoGP bike as “very interesting” however he admitted it was “a bit tricky because [he] had to get used to a new motorcycle after many years in the Moto2 class”. He knows that there is “a lot to learn” and “many factors that [he] has to adapt to”. He revealed that his “approach to this is to take everything step by step” as he knows he “will not be able to change in one session” and that he “will need some time to comprehend everything”.
He feels he is “making progress” and not finishing in a bad way at the end of the day is “the positive point”. He feels the Tech3 team “understand” his style of riding with the YZR-M1 and that “there are some really specific things that need to be undertaken in order to be fast”.
At the end of day one he said that he had “gained a lot of knowledge” but that it will “take time to improve and to adapt the bike, when necessary” to his style. Although he thought it was “a positive first day," he found it “slightly more challenging than what [he] was expecting”.
Zarco feeling really positive about the test overall
He felt things were “really positive” by the end of day two and he was “truly satisfied about the work that [they] undertook”. He felt that as soon as they started that he was “able to run at a similar pace to yesterday” when he was pushing, and so thought that it was “good to have a bike [he] was comfortable with” and that he “could be fast on straight away”.
He explained how “every time that [he] left the pit box” that he was “stronger” and that he improved his lap times “quite consistently”. He felt that the Tech3 team “did a super job” and that he was able to adapt his riding style more to suit the Yamaha. He ended the test feeling “more confident on the M1”, something that he was “really happy about” and that his lap time was “a great target to achieve”. Being just one second from the front he said was “very pleasing and a solid way to close the test”.