At the start of the second day of MotoGP testing at Phillip Island it looked like not much had changed from the previous session, as riders were faced with a wet track once again. But the weather held and skies cleared, for the most part, making it possible for the grid to take to the tarmac on slicks for the better portion of the afternoon. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Vinales topped the timesheet in Session 2 with a 1’29.131 followed by Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez in second a little over one-tenth behind. Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo finished third-fastest.
The track was largely empty during the damp morning, but some, such as Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone, along with Lorenzo and Suzuki test rider Takuya Tsuda, decided to venture out to give Michelin’s rain tires a shakedown. Lorenzo didn’t offer much in terms of assessment of the wet condition rubber, but Iannone said he was surprised by the positive character of the tires because there is a lot of grip and good feel.
After the track dried, normal testing programs were able to resume and for Suzuki that meant continuing work with the more powerful engine and semi-seamless gearbox (only upshifts are seamless for the factory riders at this point).
Vinales was pleased with the lap time he eventually set, but was more enthusiastic about the work of the team, who took incremental steps throughout the day, each yielding a slight improvement.
“Today we worked well in two ways; the first is the fastest lap, which gave me the first place, and the second is the approach we had with the development, improving little-by-little but consistently in every run, applying little improvements to the machine without any major change,” explained Vinales. “This consistency gave me not only the fastest lap but also a very comfortable feeling with the pace.”
The Spaniard also commented to MotoGP.com that the gearbox is definitely helping to improve the pace and performance of the GSX-RR, particularly in terms of keeping the bike stable on corner exit which helps to make each lap more consistent. His teammate, Aleix Espargaro, didn’t fare as well during the day, ending 15th, but attributed his struggles to an uncomfortable feeling on the bike rather than to any mechanical issues.
Marquez and his teammate Dani Pedrosa proceeded with work dedicated to evaluating the new 2016 “evo” engine and different chassis set-ups. Both riders ran competitive laps during the dry portion of the day, and Marquez even went so far as to say that “it seems we have found a base setup that can work well.” He then hedged that optimism somewhat, since Phillip Island is “a special track, in which you have to be careful about what you test because it might confuse you at other circuits.”
Pedrosa suffered a crash in Turn 4 and was forced to complete the day on his back-up bike. Before the incident he was able to drop below the 1’30 lap time mark and ended the day in eighth.
Like Marquez, Lorenzo emphasized the unique nature of the circuit as possibly contributing to issues with front-end stability during the day. In a team press release he opined that “it looks like the new electronics are going to change the performance of the bikes a lot on other tracks. Someone can have an advantage at one track and maybe they have more problems at another.”
Valentino Rossi finished in fourth and was competitive from the start, running near the top of the pack all day. LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow placed fifth followed by Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera in sixth and Iannone in seventh.
2016 MotoGP Phillip Island Test Session 2 Results
1. Maverick Vinales (Suzuki) 1’29.131
2. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1’29.292
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’29.357
4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1’29.404
5. Cal Crutchlow (Honda) 1’29.671
6. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1’29.854
7. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1’29.857
8. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’29.917
9. Scott Redding (Ducati) 1’29.941
10. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1’29.992
11. Loris Baz (Ducati) 1’30.134
12. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1’30.142
13. Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 1’30.154
14. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 1’30.156
15. Aleix Espargaro (Suzuki) 1’30.385
16. Yonny Hernandez (Ducati) 1’30.509
17. Jack Miller (Honda) 1’30.514
18. Eugene Laverty (Ducati) 1’30.617
19. Tito Rabat (Honda) 1’30.650
20. Takuya Tsuda (Suzuki) 1’32.599