Even for the laidback, easygoing Franco Morbidelli, the power available when piloting a MotoGP machine was enough to elicit a reaction: “It’s fantastic,” he beamed while assessing his first shakedown as a premier class rider.

Morbidelli shrugged off an early fall on Wednesday when caught out by the cool morning temperatures to work on his adaption to a 260bhp machine. The improvements were soon forthcoming, with the Italian placing a respectable 2.5s off the fastest pace on Tuesday. A day later and he was just 1.7s back. “Not so bad,” came his understated assessment.

“It was a good day,” said Morbidelli, the reigning Moto2 world champion, on Wednesday. “I’m happy. It didn’t start in the perfect way. I crashed in the first laps. I got straight away the second bike and I improved immediately my lap time from yesterday.

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“From then on we started working on understanding how the electronics goes. And we started also to work on the balance of the bike. That’s it. We tried also some different tyres. We started this learning process yesterday and we kept on working.

“I’m really happy. We already started with a good level. We are 1.7s off. But actually it’s not so bad. It’s a lot but it’s not so bad according to me. Yesterday was 2.5s and today is much less. It means we are improving. And the important thing is we have to keep improving every time we go on the bike.”

On Tuesday, Morbidelli detailed the process of getting up to speed on a MotoGP machine in full. Not only was the Italian working with a full board of electronics settings for the first time; the RC213V’s desire to wheelie needed a lot of adjusting.

“I enjoyed it a lot on the bike,” he said. “It was nice to try a MotoGP and it was nice to work with the new crew. I feel good and all the people from Michelin and the people from HRC. I feel good and I like the bike.

“I was struggling with the wheelie a little bit more than the other parts because I do have it a lot at this track. Compared to the Moto2 it’s something completely new. I have to get used to it and learn how to control it.

“I started with the base electronics. Already toward the end I was starting to need a bit more power in acceleration. That’s it basically. It was an electronics [setting] to start and have the first approach to a MotoGP. I think it was a good choice.”

On the power of the bike, Morbidelli said, “It’s fantastic. It’s fantastic because everyone told me, ‘Yeah, tomorrow you’re going to feel the amazing power’ and stuff like that. The bike actually has an amazing power but the delivery is so smooth. It’s so much rider friendly. It wasn’t a shock for me.

“In the beginning I was struggling a lot to look at the pit board. I was dealing with a lot of wheelies and power things. But after some laps you get used to it and you start to look at the pit board like normal. I still need three laps to get used again to the power and check that everything is alright. Then after three laps I can look at the pit board.”

On Tuesday, Morbidelli had the chance to share the track with reigning world champion Marc Marquez and mentor and friend Valentino Rossi, an experience he described as “very emotional.”

“Well, this morning [on Tuesday] Vale and also Marc [Marquez] passed me and I think they made slow laps in front of me just to show me the lines. It was a very emotional moment.”


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How cool of the greats to show him the lines.  Nice touch there....

260hp has to be amazing. The first time I races with 220hp (SBK spec GSXR1000) I was gobsmacked at how fast the bike was. 40hp more has to be insane.


Gixer 1000, nice. Ya extra 40 Bhp must be mad but with all the electronics it probably neutralizes to some degree I'd imagine anyway, but the carbon brakes must also be a big difference.

Morbidelli can be the other Honda guy to challenge MM as long as Honda doesn't get on the way. His experience in MotoGP is much less than other riders he didn't only catch up but last year was already faster than Zarco at the end of the season. He's the real deal.

Hmmm, Zarco has a challenger a year later from Moto2. Zarco was the champion 2 years ago, then Morbidelli comes to MotoGP scene to race with Zarco. Wanting to see more guys from Moto2 champions moving up to MotoGP.

Only different is Zarco will be on a Yamaha with similar spec to the factory Yamahas, or maybe they give him a factory bike??

Franco will be on a Honda with half the spec of the Factory Repsol Honda so I expect Franco to struggle a bit. Just a thought.

Funny thing is Yamaha said they will give Tech 3 2017 bike and factory team 2018 bike. Still too scared of Zarco eh? Lol.

Morbidelli and Luthi get 2018 RCV like Cal Dani and MM.

Thumbs up for Vale & Marc to show him the lines....

The Honda very nearly ruined the careers of Rabat and Miller. Listen to their comments about the Ducati. I think this is going to be a very tough year for Frankie

That's what I'm saying, any Honda outside of the Full factory repsol honda will suffer due to interior electronic packages. That team have the best of the best in electronic packages & technicians and can have those two bikes set up right from the off.