On Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th November, between 09:30 and 17:30 local time (GMT +1), the MotoGP™ riders will be back on track after two days in Valencia to continue their 2019 preparations, with the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto the venue for them this time around.
But what are the talking points ahead of the final dose of MotoGP™ action before the winter break? Well, after an intriguing 2019 test opener in Valencia, there’s plenty to look forward to:
1. Marquez has competition
It’s – of course – early to say, but it seems Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) faces some seriously stiff competition if he’s to take an eighth title in 2019. The seven-time World Champion was fast at the Valencia Test, finishing just 0.154 off pacesetter Maverick Viñales (Yamaha Factory Racing) and happy with his initial tests on board a 2019 version, but there’s plenty of riders who started strongly. Viñales and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) headed the Spaniard in Valencia, while Suzuki and the Yamaha of Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) also looking menacing. Then there’s the injury. The troublesome shoulder reared its head again during the final round of the season and, with surgery planned in early December, the fight to be fit for Sepang will well and truly be on. A disrupted preseason isn’t ideal for the number 93, so will his rivals be able to take advantage?
2. Yamaha: are they ready?
The question on everyone’s lips is whether or not Yamaha are ready to take the fight to Honda and Ducati – and maybe Suzuki too – in 2019. Viñales’ Phillip Island win has rejuvenated the Iwata factory, with Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing) also putting in two hugely positive performances in Sepang and Valencia before crashing. With two new engines to try in Valencia, the results for Viñales were telling; topping both days and leading his competitors by over a tenth as the opening 2019 test concluded. A sure sign that Yamaha are well on their way to a good preseason, we’ll find out more in Jerez…
3. Lorenzo learning
One of the biggest talking points about the 2019 season is Jorge Lorenzo’s performance on the RC213V machine. Valencia saw the five-time World Champion’s first outing, ending the two-day test in P12 – 0.827 off Viñales while still nursing his left wrist injury. His adaptation is just starting, but it was far from a disastrous debut for Lorenzo who also managed to try out the ‘second version’ 2019 Repsol Honda machine. How close the front will the ‘Spartan’ be at Jerez?
4. Morbidelli and the M1: a match made in heaven?
“My riding style is already quite smooth; this bike just calls that riding style.” This was Franco Morbidelli’s (Petronas Yamaha SRT) reaction to his first outing on the YZR-M1 after making the switch from Honda, and sitting P6 and just 0.217 off Viñales is a sure sign the Italian is feeling pretty comfortable – already – on his Yamaha. It’s early days, but it seems the 2017 Moto2™ World Champion is well equipped to ruffle a few feathers towards the sharp end of the grid in 2019.
5. KTM: a truckload of parts to test
Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) is leading the KTM testing duties as they roll out numerous new parts, both exterior, technically and mechanically, as the Austrian factory aim to build on the Spanaird’s podium in Valencia. P13 and 0.871 off Viñales’ pace was a solid opening test for KTM, with Espargaro having plenty of things to try in Jerez. And let’s not forget the progress of Johann Zarco. It was a difficult debut after two crashes on Day 2, but two more days in Jerez will hopefully see the Frenchman close the gap to the front.
6. Rookies hit the ground running
Seeing rookies progress from the Moto2™ - or in Jack Miller’s case Moto3™ - class is always one of the most exciting prospects about preseason testing, and Francesco Bagnaia (Alma Pramac Racing), Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) impressed on their premier class debuts. 2018 Moto2™ Champion Bagnaia was the leading rookie to end the two days just 0.648 off Viñales, with Mir taking to his GSX-RR like a duck to water – 0.957 off for the Spaniard. Quartararo was very happy with his maiden Yamaha appearance, the 19-year-old was 1.334 behind fellow Yamaha rider Viñales, while Oliveira made good progress on the 2019 KTM – a new bike for rider and team. More breakthroughs can be expected in southern Spain…
Head over to motogp.com on Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th for reports, highlights, reactions, interviews and other video content from both days, as well as two After the Flag episodes at the end of each day, from 17:00 – 18:30 local time (GMT +1).