Jack Miller’s (Alma Pramac Racing) Day 1 at the Official 2019 Valencia Test was cut short due to a technical issue as he completed just 19 laps on board a GP18 Ducati.
However, despite the premature end, Miller comes away from Day 1 feeling very positive and can’t wait to get going again on Wednesday: “It was a great 20 laps. I enjoyed it. The new bike feels amazing, I’m really happy with it and I look forward to more laps tomorrow. We had a slight technical issue, which caused an early end to the test but the boys will get it fixed up and we’ll back out there tomorrow,” reflected the Australian, who will get to race a GP19 machine for the 2019 season. For now, Miller gets to grips with a GP18, having spent 2018 on a year old GP17. And the differences between the two machines are clear:
“There are no similarities,” said ‘Jackass’. “I can’t believe the bike is from the same family. Everything is new; the gearbox down to the handlebars and the way they feel. I’m enjoying it a lot and I’m even more excited for tomorrow than I was for today.”
Extremely positive words from the 23-year-old then, and Miller was also positive about his new teammate’s performance; Francesco Bagnaia. “Pecco’s a great guy, I got a couple of laps in behind him – I actually almost got cleaned up by him at the end of pitlane; as I looked up to see what was coming, he’d hit the wet patch at turn 1 and I just saw him coming towards me and thought ‘ooh no!’ – but he’s doing really well out there and I think he’s quickest of the rookies, so he’ll be pushing.”
Top rookie is exactly what the reigning Moto2™ World Champion was on the opening day in Valencia. 38 laps completed, less than a second off leader Maverick Viñales (Yamaha Factory Racing) and P11 for the Italian was impressive:
“Unfortunately the rain stopped us after only 38 laps,” said ‘Pecco’. “But I’m really very satisfied with this first day. Honestly, we just tried to lap as much as we could. We’ll start working on the setup tomorrow. My first feeling? The bike is impressive.”
But what about the factory Ducati duo? Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was able to set the fourth quickest time on Day 1, but the rain seriously affected his and Ducati’s plans: “Unfortunately we couldn’t start with a real comparison with the new bike,” began the Italian. “We did some exits with the bike from this year because we wanted to create a base because we couldn’t ride the bike at the weekend in the dry, with good speed so we prepared everything to try and make the comparison but it started to rain, so not a really important day.
So what’s the number 04’s plans for Wednesday? “What we have to try isn’t something big. It’s not easy to understand the difference (between the bikes) and the decision is very important now because it affects the winter and the bike for next year. Every time we try something new, everything has to be perfect. Tomorrow morning, we have to see the conditions. Again, we have to start with the previous bike because we have to create another base to understand the exact difference because we don’t have a completely new bike, we are working on the details.”
And what are Danilo Petrucci’s thoughts on his first day as a factory Ducati Team rider? “This morning I was so emotional, it was an emotional day,” admitted ‘Petrux’. “The feeling was like the first day at school. It had been a long time since I had done something for the first time. It’s a dream come true to wear these colours and it was a very good day. We worked very calm and relaxed and tried the new bike. The bike has no negative things, which is very good.”
His plan for Wednesday? “Tomorrow, first of all, we have many new parts to try. The new bike is better but there’s not a very very big difference. I did the first try with my bike of this year, then I switched to the 19. We have some differences and worked a bit. We rode a lot with used tyres. It’s a bit more stable, I could keep the tyre temperature a bit cooler and this helped me a lot.”
All four will again be in action as the first 2019 preseason test concludes. Better weather is forecast, so can we see the likes of Dovizioso put in a long stint on new Ducati machinery?