MotoGP head into the winter break with Viñales topping the Jerez test timesheets
Yamaha came out on top of the last two days of MotoGP testing before the winter break – but changeable and worsening weather limited opportunities, and meant that lap times remained slightly short of those set at May’s race at the Jerez circuit.
Best of the two days was Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha), whose Monday time of 1’37.135 was less than half-a-second off Fabio Quartararo’s all-time pole record of 1’36.880. It was good enough to keep him on top on Tuesday, though he placed fourth on the second day at 1’37.964, with Marquez (Repsol Honda) taking the honours at 1’37.820, and then the Ecstar Suzuki’s of Alex Rins and Joan Mir.
But Vinales had done 68 laps on the first day, in between drizzly patches, and Marquez 69. On Tuesday he did only 15, and Marquez 14.
The work load fell on Aprilia test rider Bradley Smith, busiest of all with 43 laps; then the rookies. Repsol Honda’s Alex Marquez essayed 36, Red Bull KTM rookies Brad Binder clocking up 35, getting wet time on their new bikes. All three were at the bottom end of the time sheets
Valentino Rossi was also hard at work, placing tenth, half a second off Marquez, but with 33 laps to his credit. Only ten were in the dry, but one focus was working with his new ex-Moto2 crew chief, David Munoz.
Conditions meant frustration for those with prototype chassis and engines, which meant everyone except Aprilia; and likewise for Michelin, who had hoped for more time to test new 2020 fronts, as well as a new front compound (for factory teams only) of a 2021 prototype.
Yamaha riders were testing new chassis and engine upgrades, offering improvement in the top speed deficit but, according to both Monster Energy factory riders, not enough. The outward difference is a much larger air intake.
As Vinales said: “I feel really good on the bike, and it is in the right direction. But we still have ten km/h difference in top speed, and we need to work more on that.”
Ducati were working on chassis and, in the case of test rider Michele Pirro, aerodynamic developments, especially to the wheel covers.
Honda, as at last week’s Valencia tests, had new aerodynamics, plus chassis and engine changes.
KTM were testing two different chassis configurations; Aprilia merely working on electronic strategies, as they await an all-new bike.
On combined times, Vinales led Marquez, then Rins, Fabio Quartararo and Mir.
Andrea Dovizioso was sixth, running only five laps today; fellow Ducati rider Jack Miller eighth after only four. In between them, Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha). Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) rounded out the top ten, with Rossi 11th.
New Repsol Honda rider Alex Marquez ran a best time on day two at 1’39.224 to place 17th overall. Dani Pedrosa missed the first day through illness, and ran 11 laps on the second, to end up 19th.
2019 World Champion Marc Marquez will go under the surgeon’s knife tomorrow (Wednesday) in Spain, to repair damage to his right shoulder. It means another winter of pain and recuperation, after major surgery at the end of 2018 to his repeatedly dislocated left shoulder.
The injury was blamed on his heavy qualifying crash at the Malaysian GP. He shrugged it off to finish second there and first a fortnight later at Valencia.
Another fall on the first of two days of testing at Jerez aggravated the injury; and while the Repsol Honda rider was out again on the second day, and topped the time sheets, the news came after an early finish after rain struck, keeping most riders in their pits for most of the day.
Words Michael Scott