On the final day of the Sepang MotoGP test, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Bradley Smith put in a full race simulation.
It was, we believe, the first time a full grand prix distance had been completed at an official test using the new-for-2016 Michelin tyres and single ECU system.
We've plotted Smith's lap times on the chart below, alongside his race lap times from October's Malaysian Grand Prix, which he finished in fourth place using Bridgestone tyres and the factory ECU.
The new rules allow Smith two more litres of fuel relative to last season, but the unified ECU software does not offer the kind of automatic in-race adjustment for things like traction control, torque delivery and fuel consumption that was possible with the previous factory systems.
Riders will still have the option to change mapping manually during a race, using buttons on the handlebar, but for his first race simulation Smith stuck it out with the same settings.
Afterwards, a naturally tired Smith was good enough to halt packing up to talk about what he had experienced during that long run:
“For me it was important to see what these electronics could do over race distance and to see how the bike performs on 22 litres. That's what my ambition was today.
“[Now] you have fixed numbers that you put in [to the ECU]. Nothing works together anymore. It only works with the parameters that you put inside. Even more so we didn't put any mapping settings in. It was just what I felt comfortable with over the weekend and whether that was on new or old tyres.
“I was thrown in at the deep end because I had no engine brake maps or acceleration maps. The reason for doing that is because it's probably a worst-case scenario.
“It was a joint decision. I wasn't that keen. When it was explained I thought that it made sense, but I was like, 'This is going to suck!' It was a hard graft, doing 20 laps at the end of three days here. I was almost handcuffed to the bike! We have to do what we had to do.
“We were able to learn from it. We were able to pinpoint where the problems were and where we really need to improve.
“I was happy. The first twelve laps were really solid. Then when the tyre drops the issues become more apparent. That's really interesting for us to know. That's where there is a lot of time to be gained, in that final third of the race. Then you can learn how to bring in torque maps and all those kind of things.
“[The Michelins] go longer [before the pace drops]. The Bridgestone gave a good five or six laps before they dropped. Then it was stable. One thing is clear, with these electronics the bike becomes quite tricky to ride. You have to be on your game and that opened my eyes as to what we need to focus on in Phillip Island.
“I was pleased with the worst-case [ECU] scenario. I think it matched, if not a little better, [the race time] I achieved here in October so I'll take that. It's not a bad place to start. I believe there is plenty more to come over the next six days of pre-season testing.”
Excluding the first lap of the race, Smith's test simulation was 4.135s quicker than his race time.
However the difference between his best and worst lap at the test was 1.545s, while in the grand prix - despite racing with other riders, then appearing to back off in the closing laps once safely clear of Cal Crutchlow - the difference had been 1.359s.
Smith best lap time was almost identical, a 2m 1.918s at the test (lap 5) and 2m 2.051s in the race (lap 3), although testing lap times are usually quicker than during the grand prix weekend.
The Tech 3 riders did not have Michelin's latest front tyre developments to try, which fastest man Jorge Lorenzo felt "probably give you four or five tenths".