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29 days ago
By motogp.com

Rookies at Valencia: Morbidelli top by half a tenth

EG 0,0 Marc VDS rider just edges Takaaki Nakagami on Day 2

Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was the fastest of the premier class rookies at the Valencia test, ending Day 2 marginally ahead of fellow rookie Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) on the timesheets. The Italian also improved his laptime by a second on the second day, despite a crash.

"It was a good two days and today we improved a lot,” said the reigning Moto2™ Champion following the end of action on Day 2. “I was one second faster compared to yesterday, which is a step I wasn't really expecting, so everything is going pretty good at the moment. Of course I still need to work on my riding style, because this bike is very different to a Moto2. This is the main thing, but then I also need to understand better the electronics, how the balance of the bike changes the feeling and many other things. There is still a lot to learn, so I'm looking forward to getting back on the bike next week in Jerez."

EG 0,0 Marc VDS Team Principal Michael Bartholemy was happy with Morbidelli’s debut, with only positives to add: "It's been an extremely positive first MotoGP test for Franco. It's very easy for MotoGP rookies to be overawed by both the bike and the competition when they make the step up to the premier class, but he is completely unfazed. Instead he has worked closely with his crew, the HRC engineers and the Michelin technicians to understand better both the bike and the tyres and his focus has been on adapting to the demands of MotoGP rather than the lap time. This is the correct way to work as a rookie and he should be satisfied with his premier class debut.”

Nakagami, meanwhile, was only half a tenth behind his old intermediate class rival – and spent a lot of time working on riding position. "We made a small improvement for sure,” said the Japanese rider after Day 2, “but we’re still not completely decided on the riding position. We tried a bit further forward on the front side to make some more space because it was a little bit too tight for me before.”

“We also tried some different mapping,” continues Nakagami, “but keeping the chassis the same. But the first priority is to do more laps and help me to understand the bike. We’re improving and getting to know each other and the new crew chief Ramon (Aurin) is very experienced and has been giving me a lot of information that helps. The team has been great. We are now planning the next test in Jerez where we will have two days. For me it’s great, more laps and I can learn more about the bike there, rather than just going straight to Sepang.”

The final rookie on track – with EG 0,0 Marc VDS rider Tom Lüthi sidelined through injury – was Xavier Simeon at Reale Avintia Racing. Simeon, coming back from injury, was positive and managed to put in some laps - also working on his position on the bike: “I finished the test very happy. It was a very good test and I was able to progress much more than I expected. We worked a lot to improve on my position on the bike and I’m happy with how we worked. The first two days of testing were incredible and now I just want to improve. I know I still have a lot left to learn, and now I just want to get to Jerez and keep getting to know the bike and tyres better.”

Jerez fires up for most next week, with the notable exception of Repsol Honda Team riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, who have elected to instead use the days next season.

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