With a new era came a return to the top. Maverick Viñales marked his first day in grand prix racing using the #12 by finishing ahead of the rest at the Valencia test, as a new engine provided him with greater feel entering the track’s 14 turns.

Like team-mate Valentino Rossi, Viñales was comparing a new ‘evolution’ motor on Tuesday with the 2018 engine believed to be behind many of the Movistar Yamaha duo’s difficulties through the year.

And Viñales noted an immediate improvement. “I just felt really good going out,” he said, stating the engine braking on the newer motor was more to his liking. He could enter the corner as he pleased, placing less stress on the front tyre as a result.

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“For sure we made a lot of progress,” said Viñales, 0.3s faster than Marc Marquez at the close of play. “I felt good with the bike. We tried one step better engine, and I just felt really good going out. Still we need to set up the acceleration, because the engine is too different from the one we had in the 2018 season. So we need to keep going. I'm really happy.

“Especially on braking. Suddenly I took the new engine, the new version, and I felt much better going into the corner. I just felt I stressed the front tyre much less and I can keep the corner speed.

“That is what I needed through all the year, to arrive faster to the apex. And yeah, I felt quite good. So already on the first run out I felt I could turn more, and that was the most important thing.

“Still, the acceleration, we need better drive, because it's not set up in the correct way. But I think it will be not so difficult to make a good acceleration, because finally, if there is too much power in the beginning, then there is no power. So still we need to make more laps.

On his plans for Wednesday, Viñales went on: “Maybe we have another engine with another step, we're going to try that. But I'm quite happy with what we have now. So I want to make laps and set up really good the electronics, because now it changed a lot on the track, and we still have a lot of work to do, especially on the acceleration.

“For Yamaha, it's very important to test the other engine, because we have to feel if the engine braking is the same. So if the engine braking is the same, I will keep running and trying both. But if already I feel the engine brake is less, I will focus on the one I had today, because today I felt really good.”

Will he test anything regarding chassis? “No,” he said. “Just the engine. Finally we found a good setup, a base setup that works in four, five different tracks. The engine braking will make much more difference than to change the setup.”

There were internal changes to Viñales’ side of the box on Tuesday. Crew chief Ramon Forcada moved across to work alongside Franco Morbidelli, while his replacement Esteban Garcia is not available until next week’s outing in Jerez.

“He's not here yet,” said Viñales of Garcia. “He will be in Jerez. But at the moment we are managing well, I have the Japanese staff and also Davide [Marelli – data technician] is with me on that work. We can’t wait until Esteban is here, but we can manage for this test.”

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