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Maverick Viñales (Yamaha Factory Racing) got his 2019 preseason off to the perfect start after he topped both days at the Valencia Test, setting the quickest time of 1:30.757 to better second place Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso by 0.133 and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) by 0.154 as the premier class riders complete a busy day of testing in Valencia – the rain staying away on Wednesday.
FREE: full OnBoard lap with Lorenzo and his Honda
For Viñales and teammate Valentino Rossi – who ended the test eighth fastest – another new spec of engine was available for them to test, after Tuesday saw them test the first spec of the 2019 Yamaha engine. Ending the test top can only be a good sign for the Spaniard, who managed to complete 57 laps on Day 2, setting his quickest time on his 50th lap as we saw a mini time attack occur during the afternoon. For the nine-time World Champion, a good haul of 63 laps were set as the Italian ended 0.614 off his teammate.
Splitting the two factory Yamahas after Day 2 was the VR46 Academy rider and YZR-M1 rookie Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT). The Italian lapped 57 times as he continues to adjust from Honda to Yamaha – but that adjusting doesn’t seem to be taking the 2017 Moto2™ Champion long. Interestingly, Morbidelli was also riding with a new spec engine to finish Day 2 just 0.217 off Viñales, but he was on a 2017 chassis, the one Johann Zarco was riding while on a Yamaha. Carbon forks were also used by Morbidelli, while rookie teammate Fabio Quartararo got a valuable 63 laps (101 in total) under his belt as he impressed on his premier class debut – just 1.334 separated the Frenchman from the fastest time set.
Test rider Jonas Folger (Yamaha Test Team) was back on a premier class machine to complete 77 laps across the two days. A late crash at Turn 10 destroyed one of his Yamaha machines on Day 2, but overall it was a good test for the German as he reacquaints himself with a MotoGP™ machine - 1.508 splits him from Viñales.
For Marquez and teammate Jorge Lorenzo, the ‘second version’ 2019 bike was used. This bike isn’t the full 2019 version, but a combination of parts including the chassis, engine, a Ducati-esque tank modification on Lorenzo’s bike, aero packages, a new air intake, new suspension and a relocated steering damper. Plenty of laps were done by both multiple World Champions – who are both not up to full fitness - on a productive day, with Marquez ending P3 after 53 laps, with Lorenzo completing 46 laps – 0.827 off the top for the ‘Spartan’.
It was a good two days for Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) as he got to grips with a 2018 spec RC213V. The Japanese rider ended his 2018 on a high with a P6 finish and kicked off 2019 with a P8 finish – 0.547 from Viñales.
In the Ducati garage, 57 laps complete for Dovizioso – and the second fastest time – ends what looks to be a positive day for the Italian after rain seriously interrupted his plans on Day 1. The number 04 and teammate Danilo Petrucci were on Desmosedici’s that were very close to being 2019 specs, the latter ending the day fifth fastest after 60 laps – 0.202 from top spot. Meanwhile, test rider Michele Pirro – who crashed at Turn 2 – was on the full spec 2019 machine, with Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) on board a ‘first step’ 2019 bike, according to Team Manager Davide Tardozzi.
It was another good day for 2018 Moto2™ World Champion Francesco Bagnaia, who – also according to Tardozzi – was on an early 2018 spec Ducati. The rookie was able to lap 49 times on Day 2 to bring his overall tally up to 87 as he ends the test just 0.648 off the fastest time. Fellow Ducati rider Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) returned to MotoGP™ action at the Valencia Test, and impressed immensely. Still nowhere near 100% fit, the Spaniard completed 59 laps on Day 2 – in addition to his 36 on Day 1 – to finish just over a second off pacesetter Viñales – Rabat with a GP18 as his disposal.
Oliveira's first scare on the KTM RC16
Elsewhere, the big news of the test over at Team Suzuki Ecstar was the new engine that Alex Rins was testing on Wednesday. The Spaniard was able to register 69 laps and set the seventh fastest time of the test, 0.497 from Viñales. And what about teammate Joan Mir? Well, the rookie continued his very solid debut to finish 0.957 off P1 after getting 56 laps done. The 2017 Moto3™ World Champion didn't use Suzuki’s new engine on Day 2.
It was second day for Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) as he crashed twice during Day 2 trying to find the limit, ending the two-day test 1.752 off Viñales’ time. 50 laps were completed by the Frenchman, who was again the first rider to head out after the Circuit Ricardo Tormo took a while to dry in the morning. Teammate Pol Espargaro ended 0.871 from Viñales in P13, 47 laps fulfilled for the Spaniard who had a new fairing to try.
There was a late crash for Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) at Turn 10 after the Malaysian continued his adaptation to a new machine, with both he and teammate Miguel Oliveira riding 2019 RC16 machines. The Portuguese rider completed 46 laps on Day 2 – 79 in total – to finish 3.041 from the top, shaving over a second of his fastest time from Day 1 after a huge scare early in the day.
With Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) crashing twice and test rider Bradley Smith crashing once, it was also a difficult day for the new Italian factory riders. Iannone – alongside teammate Aleix Espargaro – was on the same chassis as the one Aprilia introduced at Phillip Island, with both working on the 2019 RS-GP. For Espargaro, a P10 finish and 55 laps completed signalled a solid day’s work as the Spaniard ended the two day’s 0.643 off the pace. Iannone was able to get 32 laps done, with Smith putting in the work to get 58 circulations complete.
A very busy day sees plenty of new and exciting points to be talking about, with Viñales getting his 2019 off to the perfect start. 2019 has officially begun, and it isn’t long before our second dose of 2019 Pre-Season testing commences at Jerez on Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th November. What innovations will we see in southern Spain next week?
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