Movistar Yamaha Make Positive Start to Sepang Test

After a long winter wait, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team were back on track today for the first Official IRTA MotoGP Test of the 2018 season, held at the Sepang International Circuit. 
The first day of the three-day pre-season outing in Malaysia gave riders Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales a chance to get to know their new YZR-M1s and to start working through a number of test items. The teammates completed their first day back aboard their Yamahas in 6th and 13th place respectively.

The rain in the morning had Rossi venture out on track, keen on working on the wet setting of his bike and confirming the findings the team made in the Valencia and Sepang tests they held back in November. Heading out with a new 2018 pre-season helmet, he ended the morning stint in 12th place.

As his afternoon session got under way, a dry track was waiting for the Italian, who took this opportunity with both hands. With three hours remaining, he put his 2018 bike to the test and set a provisional fastest time of 2'00.799s. As his teammate and various competitors started to pick up their pace towards the end of the session, the pack got reshuffled. Rossi responded by reclaiming first place on lap 44/50, and retired to the pit early. A flurry of activity in the last 15 minutes saw him end up in sixth position with a 2'00.233s, 0.806s from first.

Viñales was also eager to get going aboard his YZR-M1 this morning, to do a race simulation and start working on the electronics and engine specifications together with his teammate. The Spaniard came prepared with a special Sepang Test helmet too, with a design inspired by the famous artist Salvador Dali, and held fourth place at the end of his morning runs.

The 23-year-old looked comfortable out on track in the afternoon and he continued to put in lap after lap. As the pace of the field started to pick up in the drier conditions, he temporarily took over top billing from Rossi, clocking an impressive 2'00.758s. The competition got more and more heated towards the end of the day, but Viñales stuck to his testing schedule. He dropped a 2'00.714s on lap 55/72, which ultimately earned him 13th place, 1.287s from the front.
Valentino Rossi - Position: 6th - Time: 2'00:233 - Laps: 50
"I'm happy, because in November we did a good job. We got a better understanding, after the confusion we had during the 2017 season. Today's chassis is a new chassis, it's an evolution that's based on the 2016 bike. When I ride with this chassis I feel better: my riding is more natural, I feel the front of the bike better, and when I push I have a good speed. After, we also concentrated on other areas. We tried two different engines to improve the acceleration and they are not so bad, also the top speed is quite good. We need to work on the electronics, especially to save the rear tyre, but the first impression is positive."
Maverick Viñales - Position: 13th - Time: 2'00.714 - Laps: 72
"I've been working really hard, especially when the temperature was higher, trying to reproduce a race day. I'm quite happy, we've improved a lot since this morning and I think we have a good package. Especially after tomorrow and the day after, I think we'll leave with a really good bike, so I'm quite happy and enthusiastic about that. Anyway, we need to keep working and need to stay on the pace. I feel good on the bike and that's the most important thing. At the moment I didn't try any different chassis, I focused on electronics and many different settings, so let's see tomorrow. As I said, I think after the next few days we're going to leave with a good package and make the right steps. I want to make laps and understand everything."
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director
"The first day is done, and we are pleased with the start we've made. The first test in Sepang is always important, because you want to set the tone right for the rest of the season. I knew Vale and Maverick were extremely curious to see how their 2018 YZR-M1s would perform, compared to what they tried during the tests in Valencia and Sepang at the end of last year. We were able to get in a lot of laps and had a positive day. The main focus today was to confirm our findings from November. Vale and Maverick mainly worked on the electronics and also tried two engine specifications with good feedback. Our first impression of the tyre wear has been positive too. It's very encouraging to see both riders feel comfortable on the bike already. We are looking forward to keep on working over the next two days and make further steps, if the weather allows it."

First Day at School for Zarco and Hernandez in 2018

Johann Zarco was back in the saddle today for the first official MotoGP test of the year in mixed conditions at the Sepang International Circuit. The French star used the full eight hours of testing to get used to the power and the speed of his Yamaha YZR-M1 again, finishing the day in 8th position.

Meanwhile Yonny Hernandez experienced a first taste of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 machine. Following a long absence from the premier class the Columbian rider got into a steady rhythm in the course of the day.
Johann Zarco - Position: 8th - Time: 2'00.421 - Laps: 62
"It was a good opening day. We started the day in wet conditions and my feeling was positive in these conditions. I began the day slowly and got re-used to the speed step by step. Compared to the race here in the wet, my feeling was positive and I felt competitive, plus I had a really good control of the bike. Later on, we had nearly ideal conditions, there were not many patches on the track. From last year, I feel a great potential with the used tyre. We don't have a big drop, which is fantastic news to prepare the entire season. Now we need a better performance with the new tyre to get into the 59's. Therefore, we just need to understand a few more things, but take it easy."
Yonny Hernandez - Position: 23rd - Time: 2'02.053 - Laps: 47
"This morning we had some difficult weather conditions, but later in the afternoon it was completely dry. I just wanted to try to understand the bike, the team, how the tyres work. In the end, we improved with every outing and overall, I'm quite satisfied with our work today. For sure, it's not the position I wish to be in, but for the opening day, it's ok, as I haven't sat on a MotoGP bike for two years. I just tried to build my rhythm, do some laps, to understand the bike to get to know everything. In the beginning, I used the soft tyre and we improved a little bit. For tomorrow I hope we can progress even more and I can lap faster."