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.

“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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