TESTING IN OZ: The first day of the third MotoGP pre-season test has concluded with the reigning world champion Marc Marquez taking the top spot. Image: Honda
Australia - MotoGP moves to Australia from 15-17 Feb with the second last pre-season tests taking place at one of the fastest circuits, the picturesque Phillip Island.
World champ in top spot
Reigning MotoGP champion, Marc Marquez ended day one as the fastest man on the track. The Honda rider finished 0.186 seconds ahead of Valentino Rossi in p2.
On the test, Marquez said: “We had a quite a busy day because we worked a lot on the engine, which of course is different from the one we used here at Phillip Island last year. That meant we had to readjust everything during the morning and spend a lot of time in the box. In the afternoon we found a base for the electronics, but we still need to work harder in this area.
"I’m fast, but like in Malaysia we want to double-check how it’s working in some areas. We also worked on the setup, and overall it has been a positive day. The weather was good, which is always important, so hopefully it will stay the same for the next two days.”
Rossi outshines team mate
Earlier in the day it seemed as if Valentino Rossi’s team mate and Yamaha newcomer, Maverick Vinales would once again outshine the veteran, as he had done previously. Vinales was the man to watch coming into the day’s test as he set the fastest lap times in both the Valencia and Sepang tests. He, however, failed to stay at the top coming in at p4.
Vinales said: "About today, I think I can be happy in one area. On the race pace and basic set-up we made a good step, I feel comfortable. We didn’t set a fast lap time at the end of the session, in the last ten minutes we went back in the box. We still have time until Qatar to be fast and try to improve the bike and I think our objective here is to be consistent and really fast."
After coming in p11 in the Sepang test, Suzuki rider, Andrea Iannone was determined to prove himself on his new bike. Finishing outside the top ten in the early session of the Phillip Island test, Iannone moved up to p2 before Rossi came and moved him down to p3 before the day was ended. Rossi successfully managed to come up from p6 to p2 in the dying moments of the first day.
Rossi said: "It was a good day, I’m quite satisfied. We started in a difficult way this morning. Before the break I wasn’t strong enough and because I couldn’t push at the maximum I didn’t have a lot of feeling.
"We worked well during the break and in the afternoon the situation changed, I was a bit better. At the end, with the new tyre, I was able to do a good lap and second position is positive for the first day. For sure, we still have a lot to do, especially on the long distance and we hope to have good weather also in the next few days."
Three-time world champion, Jorge Lorenzo failed to impress on day one as he finished just outside of the top ten, in p11. The ex-Yamaha rider still adjusting his riding style to his new Ducati Desmosedici bike, finished in p8 and p9 in the first two tests. Lorenzo, this year, joined Ducati where he has been paired with Andrea Dovizioso – who finished in p8 ahead of his team mate.
Lorenzo said: "The tests here at Phillip Island have begun a lot better than in Sepang, and today we used the same base set-up that we had established at the end of the test in Malaysia.
"It was a shame that during the last one and a half hours we were unable to improve our lap times while other riders did. We struggled to lower our times because of the strong wind and in addition the last rear tyre we fitted didn’t have the same sort of performance that we had expected. In any case it’s positive the fact that every day we are accumulating new information and that we are always making small steps forward.”
The Rookies and newbies
The new riders in the premier class from Moto2 are Jonas Folger, Johann Zargo and Alex Rins.
Johann Zarco, the reigning Moto2 champ, will be paired with Jonas Folger at Yamaha Tech 3 and Rins joins Andrea Iannone at Suzuki. Folger gave the veteran riders, like the 2015 champ Jorge Lorenzo, a run for their money as he finished in p10 at Phillip Island.
This will be MotoGP newcomers, KTM’s first test on a new circuit with riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espagaro. The new RC16, however, failed to impress as the KTM riders finished in p17 and last in p22.
The Australian tests will continue until 17 February. The official MotoGP season will start with the night race at the Losail Circuit in Qatar on 26 March.
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