MotoGP: Rainy Valencia test features new bikes, Lorenzo's Honda debut
World champion Marc Marquez tested the first version of the 2019 Repsol Honda on Tuesday.
The first 2019 preseason test has been completed, and it was Maverick Vinales (Yamaha Factory Racing) who topped the times, setting the quickest time of 1m31.416s to head 2018 World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) by 0.302s, with Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing) third on the timesheets. The session, which ended early due to rain, saw Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team), Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and others got to grips with their new machines.
Completing the top five on Day 1 was Valencia GP winner Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), the Italian 0.430s off Vinales’ benchmark, with LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl in P5 – the HRC test rider 0.599 off the fastest time.
Arguably the biggest talking point ahead of the first day of 2019 preseason testing was Lorenzo’s debut on an RC213V machine. With track conditions still wet for the first couple of hours, the five-time World Champion didn’t head out until 12:57 local time, eventually completing 30 laps before rain stopped play at around 15:20. Still not up to full fitness after his wrist injury, Lorenzo ended Day 1 with the 18th fastest time; his 1m32.959s was 1.543 off Vinales’ time as he begins his adaptation from Ducati to Honda.
Meanwhile, teammate Marquez was out on the first version of the 2019 Repsol Honda when he set his quickest lap of the day, before the World Champion appeared with the latest version. However, before we could see what the number 93 could do on it, the rain began to fall in Valencia, with Marquez completing a total of 25 laps to end the day P2.
It was a positive start to 2019 for Yamaha Factory Racing as Vinales topped the times, with both the Spaniard and teammate Rossi having 2019 spec engines to try at the test. The Spaniard – sporting his new number 12 – completed 39 laps and set his quickest time with the new Yamaha engine, while Rossi was able to circulate 40 times before the weather intervened to finish P3.
Day 1 in Valencia also saw the new Petronas Yamaha SRT team break cover for the first time, with Franco Morbidelli and rookie Fabio Quartararo spinning their first laps on a YZR-M1 machine. The Italian got his Yamaha debut off to a very good start, setting the sixth-fastest time of the day to end just over two tenths off Rossi and 0.669 from Vinales, with the 2017 Moto2 World Champion using a 2018 version Yamaha. On his first ever outing on a MotoGP machine, teammate Quartararo was able to get 38 laps under his belt to set a quickest time of 1m33.850s – 2.434s off Vinales, with the Frenchman also using a 2018 version Yamaha, similar to what he’ll be using on a full-time basis in 2019.
Jonas Folger (Yamaha Test Team) was also back on a MotoGP machine as he begins his new role as European test rider. The German rider was able to get 30 laps in his pocket, 2.3s off fellow Yamaha rider Vinales.
2018 runner-up Dovizioso completed 38 laps to finish just 0.001s behind Rossi, the Italian using an updated GP18, with test rider Michele Pirro – the only rider to crash on the opening day — heading out on a GP19 for 19 laps to set the tenth fastest time, 0.804s from the top. In addition, Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) began life as a factory Ducati rider by completing 43 laps on both a standard GP18 and an updated GP18. ‘Petrux’ was P8 on the timesheets as he finished 0.684s from the top.
In the Alma Pramac Racing garage, Jack Miller got his hands on an updated GP18, but his day was cut short due to a technical issue. The Australian was 14th quickest, but he was very happy with how the new bike compared to the one he used in 2018. His teammate for the year is 2018 Moto2 World Champion Francesco Bagnaia, and it was a very solid debut. The Italian ended the day as the fastest rookie, completing 38 laps and setting the 11th fastest time – 0.980s from Vinales.
It was also an impressive day for the returning Tito Rabat; 36 laps completed for the still-injured Spaniard, and a fastest time good enough for P16 – 1.418 from Vinales.
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) closed Day 1 in P12, with the rain halting the Spaniard’s progress as he was about to emerge with a new Suzuki engine. Meanwhile, rookie teammate Joan Mir got his first 2019 test off to a good start; 59 laps done for the Spaniard – the most of any rider – with his best good enough for P15 on the timesheets, 1.371s from P1.
One of the other big talking points from the opening day was Zarco’s debut on the RC16. The Frenchman was the first rider to head out, first on a pair of wet Michelin tires, then on the slicks as he set the first hot laps of 2019. The double Moto2 Champion set a quickest time of 1m32.835s to end the day in P17, 1.419s from Vinales as he completed 36 laps. Teammate Pol Espargaro – fresh from his maiden GP podium – was able to set a time good enough for P9, 0.763 was the gap between the Spaniard and compatriot Vinales as he managed to get 35 laps done.
We’ll see another two KTM machines on the grid in 2019 and both Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and rookie teammate Miguel Oliveira experienced the RC16 for the first time. The Malaysian lapped 20 times on Tuesday, 2.817s off, with Oliveira able to complete 33 laps – a 1m35.118s the Portuguese rider’s fastest lap.
After his switch from Suzuki, Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) took to the RS-GP for the first time. The Italian was only able to get 15 laps under his belt to as he ended the day in P19, while teammate Aleix Espargaro got 37 laps done and dusted before the rain came. The Spaniard ended P7, 0.679 off Viñales, while test rider Bradley Smith was able to get to grips with his new bike – 17 laps completed for the British rider, with a best time of 1m33.709s.
Overnight rain will mean the riders can’t head out on track straight away in the morning.
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