REIGNING champion Jorge Lorenzo and teammate Valentino Rossi steered their Yamahas into the top two slots after yesterday’s first day of official MOTOGP testing at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit as the Hondas of Marc Marquez (7th) and Dani Pedrosa (3rd) struggled to keep pace.
With the 2016 Ducatis of Italians Andrea Ianonne and Andrea Dovizioso were fifth and 13th respectively, all eyes will be on the test comeback of retired Australian double champion Casey Stoner today.
Lorenzo finished day one at Sepang in Malaysia one-second clear of the field, with Rossi adrift by just over a second, then Pedrosa and Pramac Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci.
Lorenzo’s lap time of 2m 0.684s, set with the new Michelin tyres and single ECU, effectively matched his (Bridgestone and factory ECU) race lap record in October’s grand prix.
However he was still was some way off Pedrosa’s 1m 59.0s pole time and Marquez’s unofficial testing record of 1m 58.867s.
“Well I think the potential for everyone is still very far because we are almost two seconds from the track record,” Lorenzo said afterwards.
“But we have new electronics, that in theory will never arrive at the level of the previous one, and different tyres that makes you change your riding style. You cannot take the same lean angle and you have to brake a little bit before. So it is difficult to make the same lap time as last year.
Lorenzo agreed that his naturally smooth riding style seems to suit the new Michelin tyres better than some of his rivals.
“I think the Michelin tyres could be a good thing for me in the future, from what I felt today.
“It looks like the riders that brake later and harder have more problems. But after one day we can’t make conclusions.”
As for Stoner, who will be starting his second day of testing for Ducati after a debut on Saturday, Lorenzo said: “I think he can be in the top three — he always liked Sepang and he has had the same days on track as us, so he can be very fast.”
Marc Marquez said he and Honda “must improve a lot” after finishing the opening day of 2016 MotoGP testing in seventh position, 1.594s behind Lorenzo.
Of greatest concern was that a new Honda engine offered only a ‘very small improvement’ over the previous 2016 spec and the long-running puzzle of aggressive engine character remains unsolved.
“With the tyres I didn’t have a big problem, but looks like with the electronics and with the character of the engine still, I didn’t feel comfortable.
“So for that reason today was a little bit of a special day. We tried to work and of course we tried to push, but it looks like we must improve a lot.”
The three-day test ends tomorrow.
Leading times after the first day:
1 Jorge Lorenzo Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 2m0.684s; 2 Valentino Rossi Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) +1.033s, 3 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) +1.096s; 4. Danilo Petrucci Octo Pramac Yakhnich (Desmosedici GP15) +1.127s, 5 Andrea Iannone, Ducati Team (Desmosedici GP15/16) +1.228s, 6 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing (Desmosedici GP14.2) +1.318s; 7 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) +1.594s; 8 Scott Redding Octo Pramac Yakhnich (Desmosedici GP15) +1.654s; 9 Aleix Espargaro Team Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR) +1.855s; 10 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda (RC213V) +1.902s.