Yamaha top the timesheets in Valencia two day test
Yamaha started the 2020 season well. A new engine took Maverick Vinales to the top of the time sheets in two days of testing, with a lap time at a cold Ricardo Tormo circuit at Valencia that would have put him on pole position for the race three days earlier.
The Monster Energy Yamaha rider ran better than three tenths faster than in qualifying, with chassis upgrades as well as extra power, the latter answering year-long requests from the riders.
But it wasn’t all about the engine. Satellite Petronas team riders Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli were next fastest, to make it a Yamaha top three. They did it with the 2019 motor, relying only on their first experience with the carbon-fibre swing-arm, and other minor updates, including a new aerodynamic seat.
According to factory team manager Massimo Meregalli, with the 2020 prototype chassis and engine, “we have no negatives, and we have improved the top speed. There is still a gap, but it is smaller.”
Yamaha’s latest bike is distinguished by a much bigger air intake in the nose of the fairing. Vinales’s best time, set later in the session, was 1m 29.849, compared with Quartararo’s pole lap 1m 29.978.
Honda also had an all-new machine, but Marc Marquez had a fast crash on it on the first day, and after that was riding a hybrid. Cal Crutchlow also tested the 2020 prototype yesterday, reporting “small advantages, but a bit better in the braking zone, which is what we were looking for.”
A new engine also for Suzuki pleased riders Alex Rins and Joan Mir, reporting a clear improvement in power; while at Ducati the emphasis was on a chassis update.
There were several to crash in the cold conditions, including Quartararo, new Red Bull KTM factory rider Brad Binder and Crutchlow, all at Turn Ten.
Crutchlow was fourth fastest; then Mir and Rins, with Marc Marquez finally seventh, some seven-tenths down on top speed.
Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM), with two new chassis available for comparison, was eighth. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha) and Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) completed the top ten, with factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso 11th, saying: “The lap time today was not important for us.”
KTM test rider Dani Pedrosa was out on track, running in 14th, one place and less than a tenth ahead of new KTM signing Iker Lecuona.
New Repsol Honda rider Alex Marquez started badly yesterday with a big crash on only his eighth lap, but ran 70 laps today, placed 20th, two down on Honda factory tester Stefan Bradl, with a time of 1m 32.235.
Aprilia was the only factory with nothing new to test, apart from some bodywork changes for test rider Bradley Smith. Aleix Espargaro placed 16th and Andrea Iannone 19th, but the latter got more air time, after a smoky blow-up on the main straight led to a hasty stop with flames licking his feet, bringing the red flags out while it was cleared up.
Danilo Petrucci did not test, suffering from tendonitis in his shoulder.
Slowest was newcomer Brad Binder, Moto2 race winner on Sunday, who described the factory KTM as “like another world”, with a time of 1m 32.367.
Words Michael Scott