MotoGP testing concluded at Valencia on Wednesday, with riders once again greeted with outstanding conditions at the Spanish circuit. Times improved across the board as riders and teams continued work with the new Michelin tires and unified software, with Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez leading the way for the second day in a row with a 1’31.060. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Vinales ended the day second-fastest trailed by Marquez’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa, in third.
As with the first day of testing, front tire issues plagued just about everyone on the grid. There were numerous crashes throughout the second session and almost across the board riders cited losing the front as the issue. Some were more positive than others however, Vinales and his teammate Aleix Espargaro, who finished fourth-fastest, both saying that steps had been made in the right direction. Espargaro mentioned that changes in the weight on the front of the bike had dramatically improved his feeling with the front. Vinales offered a similar assessment in a team press release.
“Our feeling is that the peculiarities of the Michelin require us to load more weight to the front-end, this can come from my riding style and also from geometry and set-up. For sure, we still need to learn a lot, we are only at the beginning of our understanding and definitely need to go more in-depth.”
Marquez and Pedrosa were spread between testing tires, the new electronics and giving the 2016 engine a shakedown. With the variables of Magnetti Marelli’s software along with the new tires, neither rider was able to offer a definitive take on the new mill, but both were vocal about the fact that the electronics package has a long way to go in its development.
Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi tested the 2016 M1s, which have the fuel tank moved to the back, new forks and the spec software. Lorenzo explained how the updated bike performed during the day in a team release.
“The 2016 machine we tried in Aragon is the bike that‘s adapted to the Michelin tires to get the best performance. The fuel tank is on the back, behind the seat, before it was in front of the rider. Today we focused on the electronics, as our lap times are still half a second slower than the lap time we made with the old version. The other thing we worked on is the front tires of Michelin, which we are still trying to improve. I felt for example that under braking the rear is very grippy in the center of the tire but when you start leaning with the front whilst still braking, the front gives you more instability and you can‘t push so much with the brakes. I used the 2016 electronics all day. Yesterday neither the power nor the engine brake was giving the best performance, so they worked on that for the next morning and today I felt that it was much better and we improved quite a bit during the whole day.”
Rossi was positive about his improvements, making longer runs during the second day to better understand the tires and saying that “the front gave better feedback.” He also spent time with the new electronics package and was optimistic, commenting that it had already improved since the previous day. In spite of these improvements, however, it all needs more work in his estimation.
Ducati’s Andrea Iannone, who finished ninth-fastest, was perhaps the most upbeat in his post test comments. In a debrief with MotoGP, Iannone went so far as to say that the feeling with his bike and the tire was good and that he was finding a happy place with the electronics. His assessment of the ECU package was particularly interesting for the fact that he was one of the few riders to express joy in the fact that, despite the loss of performance, a rider’s inputs now carry more weight in terms of the bike’s performance.
Elsewhere, residuals from the #SepangClash and subsequent controversies were brought to the fore again. HRC’s Livio Suppo and Shuhei Nakamoto sat down for a press conference that was originally understood to be the time that data from Marquez’s bike at Sepang would be released. Instead, at the behest of the FIM and Dorna, HRC once again refrained from providing the data to keep from stirring the pot so soon after the Valencia finale. Here are Suppo’s opening remarks from the press conference, which sum up about all either man would say regarding the issue.
“FIM and Dorna asked us not to create more fuel on the fire. We respect their ruling and so we accept their request. As we said, sooner or later we will show this data, we never said it would be this week. We said when we think it’s appropriate. Then the two entities governing the sport asked us to wait to avoid even more confusion. I think you would agree that since the last time we spoke to today, something even more happened. And it’s very sad for us because I personally cannot believe that people don’t understand that Marc was desperately trying to win that race. Because Marc is a very clever guy and he knows that if he’s not in front of Jorge on Sunday then everybody will go ahead speaking about these stupid things. So for the data, you’re going to have to wait more. I think the Yamaha guys are maybe happy enough.”
Riders will now have a bit of time off before returning to prepare for the 2016 season. The next full official test is scheduled for February 1-3 at Sepang.
2016 MotoGP Valencia Session 2 Test Results
1. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1’31.060
2. Maverick Vinales (Suzuki) 1’31.163
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’31.180
4. Aleix Espargaro (Suzuki) 1’31.212
5. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’31.282
6. Cal Crutchlow (Honda) 1’31.494
7. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1’31.498
8. Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 1’31.619
9. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1’31.619
10. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1’31.694
11. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 1’31.717
12. Loris Baz (Ducati) 1’31.796
13. Scott Redding (Ducati) 1’31.901
14. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1’31.937
15. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1’31.967
16. Jack Miller (Honda) 1’32.100
17. Eugene Laverty (Ducati) 1’32.377
18. Tito Rabat (Honda) 1’32.402
19. Stefan Bradl (Aprilia) 1’32.492
20. Yonny Hernandez (Ducati) 1’32.510
21. Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia) 1’32.847
22. Michele Pirro (Ducati) 1’33.568
23. Takuya Tsuda (Suzuki) 1’33.797
24. Mike di Meglio (Aprilia) 1’34.372
25. Nobuatsu Aoki (Suzuki) 1’37.031