After a one-day break, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team returned to the Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana – Ricardo Tormo to commence the 2019 pre-season. Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi concluded the first day of the Valencia MotoGP Official Test in first and third place respectively.
As per usual, Maverick Viñales was present right from the start of the testing session, full of motivation to find improvements ahead of the 2019 season. However, he had to be patient before he could swing his leg over his new number 12 Yamaha for the very first time. Though the sun was out early in the morning, the rain from earlier hadn’t completely dried up yet, leaving the track half wet – half dry, always a dangerous condition.
The Spaniard entered the track for his first 2019 pre-season run with a little less than four hours of the session remaining. He was initially using the 2018 bike but soon moved on to a new engine spec. As was announced during the Valencia GP weekend, he spent the entire session working on tuning the YZR-M1’s engine to make it smoother, leading to very competitive results. With slightly less than two hours on the clock, he set a 1’31.416s, putting him in first place. As rain in the final hours brought the track action to an early halt, the youngster kept hold of the number one spot, with a 0.302s margin, having completed 39 laps in total.
Valentino Rossi had also arrived back at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in the morning to check if the circumstances were favourable for testing. He gave it a first go at around the same time as his teammate and rose in the rankings to fifth place whilst getting re-familiarised with the track in dry conditions, as he had hoped for.
Similar to Viñales, the Italian used the afternoon to try to compare and contrast the new evolution engine to last years’, with positive feedback. He kicked the level up a notch less than five hours into the seven-hour test. He posted a best time of 1’31.845s on lap 27/40, which put him in third position, 0.429s from the top.
Position: 1st – Time: 1’31.416 – Laps: 39
“We tried to make a step forward with the engine, and I just felt really good going out. We still need to amend the engine in terms of acceleration, because the engine is different from what we had during the 2018 season. We need to keep going and I’m really happy. Tomorrow we might have another engine with another step. Maybe we will try that, but I’m quite happy with what we have now, so I want to make laps and set up the electronics really well, because it changes a lot over the whole track and we didn’t have time to do it today. I did my best lap with the new engine. I feel the direction we’re going in is the right one, because I feel much better in the corners, which is where we needed to improve, so now we can focus on acceleration.”
Position: 3rd – Time: 1’31.845 – Laps: 40
“I’m happy about the first day of testing. Before the session came to an end, I was able to do 40 laps and complete the most important work for today, which was comparing the engines. We have one evolution engine that we already tried during the 2018 season, and we compared it to the standard one. It’s not so bad, because it helps to reduce stress on the tyre, so it’s a good step.”