16 February 2016
Phillip Island MotoGP Test: ‘Two question marks’ for Rossi, Lorenzo
“We left Malaysia with two major question marks...” – Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha.
One-two on the final day of the opening 2016 MotoGP test at Sepang, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi are determined to maintain focus this week at Phillip Island - where Yamaha aims to answer 'two major question marks' about its 2016 YZR-M1.
Defending world champion Lorenzo was almost one-second clear of team-mate and nearest rival Rossi on the final day in Malaysia, where all riders were confined to the harder rear tyre after Loris Baz's massive day two accident.
Despite his advantage, Lorenzo is wisely taking nothing for granted and eager to discover if the new Yamaha-Michelin-Unified software combination can be just as strong around the fast and flowing seaside circuit.
“I look forward to testing in Philip Island, especially in this period with warmer temperatures. I look forward to checking if the bike is as strong here, after the good start in Malaysia,” Lorenzo said. “It's also an important test for the tyres at a track where usually the compounds struggle more.
“From my side I'm keen on keeping the pace and working even harder to understand the bike, the electronics and the tyres. Let's see if we can continue the correct way of development.
“I'm also feeling good in my skin and I'm preparing mentally and physically for the coming season, which for sure will be as tough as last year. Despite the good results we had in Sepang, it's crucial to stay calm and keep our feet on the ground because in this sport every day is so tricky and things change quickly.”
Like Lorenzo, Rossi - who celebrates his 37th today - was pleasantly surprised to find the amount of ground Yamaha had made up on its rivals after the final 2015 test at Valencia.
“The test in Malaysia went very well for Yamaha. We still need to improve but in general I was very satisfied about the behaviour of the bike," Rossi said. "Yamaha worked really hard during the winter and I'm eager to test the bike at another track such as Phillip Island, where we usually are pretty fast.”
While Honda riders Marc Marquez and Cal Crutchlow were closest to the Yamahas over one lap on the last day at Sepang, they were struggling to set a consistently high pace due to ongoing engine and electronic issues.
Ducati meanwhile has made an almost seamless switch to the new ECU software, although Australia will mark the first proper test for the new GP16.
“We have to stay focused. Our rivals are working a lot and already from the Australian Test many things can change,” Rossi warned.
“I feel good, I'm continuing the physical preparation and it will be very important to return at the front immediately on track. We want to continue the work begun in Malaysia and continue testing new material and improve the bike for this season.”
So far both Movistar Yamaha riders have preferred the evolution version of the M1 rather than a more radical design, which includes a fuel tank filler behind the seat.
Further back-to-back tests will be made in Australia, with chassis choice one of two main objectives for the penultimate pre-season test.
“We left Malaysia with two major question marks, the first being the direction of the development of the chassis – confirm the 2015 or go for the 2016 new one – and the second being the race simulation, because we preferred to skip it and test other things due to the limited time on track,” confirmed team director Massimo Meregalli.
“As for the coming test in Phillip Island, we'll focus from the very beginning on the decision on the chassis to start the season with. Then we'll continue to fine-tune the bike to the new software.
“I also expect Michelin to bring new compounds to test, especially because Phillip Island is very demanding for the tyres, mainly on the left side.
“It would be too hazardous to make judgments after one test only, but I feel I can say we did a really good job in winter.
“Now we are looking forward to confirming this during the test in Phillip Island, which is a very different track compared to Sepang, in order to further establish the direction of our development.”
The official Australian test is a new addition to the pre-season schedule, partly to ensure that Michelin are prepared for one of the most stressful circuits for tyres on the calendar.
The test, which runs from Wednesday until Friday, replaces the usual second outing at Sepang. Crash.net will again be reporting live from trackside.
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