After the first day, riders had enlarged on their criticism of the track, with Rossi describing it as “critical – a disaster”; Petrucci calling it dangerous, and Jack Miller saying that the work seems to have made the bumps worse rather than better … comments echoed by other MotoGP riders.
Miller compared the straight – longest of the season – to a motocross track, complaining that “both wheels are coming off the ground and it makes the electronics cut in and out”. He also had his screen broken by a flying rock.
Rossi praised the layout of the track with its “emotional corners”, but continued: “For me it’s the worst situation of the whole season.” The bumps on the straight threw the bike around at more than 300 km/h. “Three or four bumps are very big. The bike moves very much,” he said.
At another corner, turn 18, there was such a big bump that the bike was grounding out, he added.
Not surprisingly, Marquez took an opposing view. “There are more bumps than last year, so you have to be smooth. But it is not dangerous, and it is the same for everybody.”
Vinales echoed the view, but said: “It needs to improve for next year.”
The bumps saw many riders switching to their aero fairings, including (for the first time all year) Andrea Dovizioso and satellite-team rider Danilo Petrucci; both Ducati riders joined in the move by Jack Miller and Tito Rabat.
On the Yamaha side. Johann Zarco switched to the aero fairing, and in the afternoon also Maverick Vinales. But there were differences within the same pit, with Zarco’s team-mate Syahrin using a different style of aero fairing with a smaller wing; while at Aprilia both riders used the side extensions, but Espargaro’s were full-depth two-tier boxes, but Redding used only the top tier.
For qualifying, Marquez added small, slightly angled tabs added to the trailing edge of his top fairing, either side of the back of the screen.
The aerodynamic advantages sought were small but important in helping deal with the bumps. As Ducati team chief Davide Tardozzi explained: “You need to load the front a bit more, although it does mean a bit less grip in the corners.”