News 15 Nov 2017

Viñales fastest at Valencia as 2018 MotoGP testing commences

Miller impresses with fifth fastest time on debut with Ducati.

Source: Supplied.

It was a slow start to action at Valencia’s first pre-season MotoGP test as sunny skies hid cool air temperatures, but the engines soon fired up to full speed once the first forays had been made.

By the end of the first day, Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was top, taking over in P1 late in the day and ending the day two tenths clear of Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).

Movistar Yamaha had four combinations of chassis and engines to test, with Zarco, meanwhile, setting his fastest lap on the 2017 M1. The big visual headline from the early part of the day saw Viñales head out first sporting a new aerofairing on his M1, and it wasn’t long before teammate Valentino Rossi did the same.

Viñales put in 80 laps, Zarco 53 and Rossi 63, as the Doctor took fourth on the timesheets to slot in just behind reigning world champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team).

Just before midday there was a dramatic crash for Rossi at turn 10, with the number 46 soon on his feet and walking over to look at the bike. Back to the pits soon after, Rossi was unhurt and headed back out.

Marquez, meanwhile, was the last man out on track and did 70 laps as he began his campaign to defend the crown – already. His best was just over a tenth slower than Zarco, and he began the day on the 2017 bike before trying a modified version and then the 2018 bike – with a new chassis, new engine, and new exhaust – almost everything new.

Teammate Dani Pedrosa did 52 laps, and ended the day in P11 after his Valencia GP victory on Sunday, also testing the 2018 bike. Cal Crutchlow, on the first LCR Honda machine, finished up in tenth after 55 laps.

Jack Miller (Octo Pramac Racing) was the standout debutant as he rode a Ducati for the first time, going fifth fastest and almost immediately quicker than his fastest lap in the race on Sunday – and quicker than any lap put in during the race on Sunday. He was the fastest Ducati, with the Borgo Panigale factory’s Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo slotting into P7 and P8 respectively – both putting in around a half century of laps.

Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) took P14 after 46 laps, just behind Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) – with the former intermediate class Champion putting in 70 laps on his first day on a Ducati.

Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was sixth and fastest for the Noale factory after 51 laps, with new teammate Scott Redding settling in in P15 on day one. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) took ninth after 56 laps, with teammate Bradley Smith putting in a similar count of laps to end the day in P12 as the Austrian factory head into their sophomore season.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) was the fastest rookie in P17 after 76 laps, with reigning Moto2 champion Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) incredibly close behind in P18. Xavier Simeon (Reale Avintia Racing) put in 43 laps on his first run in the premier class, returning from injury and ending the day in P20. He also suffered a lowside crash earlier in the day.

Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) suffered a big crash early in the day after a mechanical problem, and went to hospital for precautionary checks. He sat out the rest of the test day, although was confirmed with no fractures. There were more issues of a different nature at Team Suzuki Ecstar as Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins were both sidelined with a virus, and are hoping to get out on track on Wednesday for day two of the test.