Maverick Viñales kicked off the 2017 MotoGP pre-season testing in Valencia on a positive note, finishing first in today's session timesheets, 0.020s ahead of Valentino Rossi in second place.
Though the main goal of today's outing for Viñales was to get a feel for his new bike, he didn't waste time to make a statement. The Spaniard started his test around eleven o'clock and only took half an hour to ride to second place and continued to be in the top six throughout his morning run. He kept the momentum going during his afternoon stint and showed his confidence posting a 1'30.930s on lap 55 to take over first place from Rossi. The 21-year-old completed 61 laps in total and wrapped up the day of testing leading the way.
Rossi had a mixed but ultimately successful day of testing. He was quickly on the pace in the morning on his 2016 bike and topped the standings after his 11th lap, clocking a 1'30.950s, which was only bettered by Viñales later in the afternoon when the temperatures rose. Despite suffering a crash on lap 32 in turn 10, he walked away unharmed and started the Valencia test with a positive feeling overall. The Italian spent his afternoon session preparing for next year's season. He completed 47 laps in total and finished in second place in today's testing results, just 0.020s off the front.
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"Today has been a momentous occasion and a promising start to the first pre-season MotoGP IRTA test. Maverick made his first kilometres on the Yamaha and, just like we expected, he has taken to the bike very well. He used today just to get a feel for the YZR-M1. Valentino was very quick this morning on his 2016 bike. It was unfortunate that his crash on the bike with the 2017 frame lost us some time, because the damage was quite substantial, but the main thing is that Vale is OK. Later in the afternoon he resumed his testing plan and the feedback we got from him is very clear, so overall we are satisfied with how the test has started and with our progress so far."
Valentino Rossi - 2nd, 1'30.950, 11/47 laps
"It was a positive day, because I'm second and the lap time was not so bad, but I did it with the old bike. With the new chassis the first feeling was OK, but after unfortunately I crashed because I put the hard tyre on the front, which on the right side doesn't give enough grip for our bike. I damaged the bike and I didn't have enough time to try it again, so now the guys are working and I will try the new chassis some other time tomorrow and we will see."
Positive beginning to Tech3 chapter for Folger and Zarco
The all new 2017 Monster Yamaha Tech3 line up got straight to work today at the post-Valencia GP test where they made their highly anticipated debuts on the Yamaha YZR-M1. Jonas Folger impressively finished the opening shakedown as the fastest rookie and ahead of some vastly experienced MotoGP riders, with a personal best time that was only 1.520 from the top. Meanwhile, the exciting French talent of Johann Zarco also rode at a notable pace and he finished just 0.012 behind his teammate as he got to up to speed with the premier class machine. The final day of testing will commence tomorrow where both rookies will continue to gather knowledge of the bike that they will contest next season with.
Jonas Folger - 16th, 1'32.450, 51/52 laps
"I'm very happy about my debut on the Yamaha because it was an exciting moment and overall, a great experience. Of course, the first outing was special and there was a large amount of information to absorb, but I started to get used to the YZR-M1 quite quickly and I've already learnt a lot. In addition, the team was also really helpful and they told me about what I had to change on the bike. The main goal was just to begin adapting to the Yamaha and to the MotoGP riding style, but we are all pleased about the progress. The thing that surprised me the most was the smoothness of the engine with all of that power and also the top speed, which is incredible. The bike is very impressive and it was fun to ride with such a strong yet controllable engine. Tomorrow, I aim to carry on from where we stopped but first, this evening I will study all of the data and then start comparing myself to some other riders. In addition, when I get back on the track, I will continue familiarising myself with the bike, and then we may possibly begin adjusting it later in the day."
Johann Zarco - 17th, 1'32.462, 59/61 laps
"My debut on a MotoGP bike was very interesting, however, it was a bit tricky because I had to get used to a new motorcycle after many years in the Moto2 class. There is a lot to learn and many factors that I have to adapt to. My approach to this is to take everything step by step because of course, I will not be able to change in one session and I will need some time to comprehend everything. I am making progress and we finished in not a bad way at the end of the day and so this is the positive point. The Tech3 team understand my style of riding and I can see that with the YZR-M1, there are some really specific things that need to be undertaken in order to be fast. I have gained a lot of knowledge, but it will take time to improve and to adapt the bike, when necessary, to my style. It was a positive first day, but slightly more challenging than what I was expecting."