MAKING AN IMPACT: Maverick Vinales is setting the track alight in pre-season testing. Image: Yamaha MotoGP
Australia - Current MotoGP world champion, Marc Marquez fell 0.462 seconds short of being the fastest man on the track, with Maverick Vinales beating the champion to clinch the top spot on day two.
Yamaha newcomer, Vinales took the lead early in the day. He was the first and remained the only rider to break into 1min28 seconds.
"More work to do"
Vinales said: "Today we focused a lot on the race pace and honestly we did a great job, we made a big step compared to yesterday.
I’m feeling more comfortable on the track and I’m getting more grip from the tyres. I think we did a good job today, but we still have some work to do."
Lots of laps ahead
The Yamaha newbie continued: "We need to choose which chassis we like and decide on a few other things. We still have a lot of laps ahead of us. For sure I was trying to go faster at the end of the session today, but in sector three and four there was a lot of wind so I couldn’t beat the lap time I set this morning, but I’m happy anyway.
"I’ve been fast with both chassis and all the time I’m riding 1’29-low and 1’29-medium. Like I said, we’ve made a big step today and we’ll try to make another step tomorrow."
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Marquez, who did 107 laps, was his closest competitor with a time of 1min29.305.
Marquez said: "It’s been a day of really hard work, and I’m a little bit tired, but it was the plan we had for today with the team and we did it! Together with my engineers we decided to do many laps to try a few things, and we focused on riding as consistently as possible, trying to avoid any mistakes. I also did two long runs at the end of the day, to try different configurations of the electronics, and that allowed us to gather a lot of information.
"Anyway, as I said yesterday, we’re still missing something, because I’m not 100% comfortable, but we’re working in a good way. Hopefully these two long runs will allow us to find the areas where we can take a step forward. I also tried a new Michelin front tire and tomorrow we’ll try the rear one, as today we had no time to do it."
Birthday boy Rossi
Valentino Rossi celebrates his 38th birthday in the perfect fashion while on the track. The eight-time champion, however, slipped down six spots to p8 after finishing in P2 on day one.
Rossi said: "It was a difficult day for us, especially in the afternoon. This morning was not so bad. We tried some different tyres but we especially focused on the pace and it was quite good. This afternoon we had some important tests to do, try a long run and modify something on the bike, but unfortunately it didn’t work well and I wasn’t fast enough. It looks like we followed the wrong direction, so after the interviews we’ll go back to the box to try to understand better for tomorrow and we hope that we can improve.
"Being in Phillip Island with the good weather and riding the M1 all day is always difficult, because it’s hard work, but it’s also a great pleasure, so I think this is a good birthday gift."
Alex Rins (Suzuki) was the first rider out on the track just before 10am and completed the race in P9. Australian GP winner in 2016 with a time of 1min29.662, Cal Crutchlow managed to end the day as the third fastest.
Rins' team mate, Andrea Iannone who ended day one in P3, settled for a disappointing p12 on day two. Three-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo once again struggled to find pace on his new Ducati and completed day two behind team mate Andrea Dovizioso (p5) in 15th spot.
Lorenzo said: "Today we worked well, trying to lap with more consistency and we made some small steps forward, doing a lot of 1m30s laps. Tomorrow we’ll see if we can manage to improve our pace and constantly get under the 1m30s mark. We tried several different set-up solutions and in any case I’m optimistic even though we are still some way behind the leaders. This evening, together with my technicians, I’ll analyze the data and tomorrow we’ll try and get closer to the top of the timesheets."
Marquez’ Repsol Honda team mate, Dani Pedrosa missed the first half of the days testing due to a throat infection and only went out on the track after lunch and completed the da in P16 behind Lorenzo.
Pedrosa said: "Unfortunately, near the end of yesterday’s session I started feeling a bit strange and things got worse overnight. This morning I couldn’t have breakfast as I wasn’t feeling good in my stomach and I had a bit of a fever and no strength. I could eat absolutely nothing until around 2:00pm, so I just waited.
"I tried to do some laps in the afternoon, starting slowly, and although I improved a little lap by lap, I didn’t push hard. Anyway, now I’m feeling better and hopefully tomorrow I’ll be in better shape for the final day of the test."
Still finding their feet in MotoGP, newcomers KTM once again finished the test day at the bottom of the list in P19 and P22. The team is aiming to set fairly good lap times and will then focus on new parts to see which works better. In the meantime, most of the other teams have been comparing old and new fairings to see which work best.