Franco Morbidelli has been encouraged by new crew chief Ramon Forcada’s work with the Petronas Yamaha team and is “very curious to see how we can translate our work onto the track”.

The new satellite Yamaha squad made its MotoGP debut at the post-season Valencia test before a further two-day winter test at Jerez last month.

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Morbidelli, who switches from Marc VDS Honda to head-up the Sepang International Circuit-run Petronas Yamaha squad, has partnered Forcada following his public split as crew chief for Maverick Vinales at the factory Yamaha team.

The Italian rider has found a positive initial working relationship with Forcada and is eager to lean upon his Yamaha knowledge during the early development stages as the new team gets up to speed in MotoGP with the YZR-M1.

“It is going really well. So far we have only done four days of testing but the feeling is very positive,” Morbidelli said about Forcada. “He is very experienced as a man and as a crew chief, so I am very curious to see how we can translate our work onto the track.

“It is a very easy bike to take to the limit and this surprised me a lot. When you reach that extreme point it is the moment to work on how you push it further. That is when the real work starts.”

With rookie team-mate Fabio Quartararo joining him at the Petronas Yamaha squad, Morbidelli has been given the mantle of team leader despite having just one year of experience in the premier class to his name. Morbidelli stepped up to MotoGP as 2017 Moto2 world champion.

Despite the added pressure, the 24-year-old feels it won’t cause any extra challenges reaching his targets for 2019.

“I feel like I am one of the people that has to make this a great project,” he said. “I don’t feel like I have more or less responsibility than anybody else, we are all equally important.

“Each person has to do their job to the best of their ability to make PETRONAS, Yamaha, the partners and the fans proud of us.

“There is always pressure in this game, so yes I feel it but it's not a problem – it is how this sport works.”

Forcada and Wilco Zeelenberg have effectively moved over from the factory Yamaha squad to manage the new Petronas Yamaha team ahead of its MotoGP debut next year. Morbidelli is expected to ride a factory-specification YZR-M1 with Quartararo on an older specification.

Tech3 gave up its satellite Yamaha team status to start a new partnership with KTM for 2019 with the Sepang-run squad expanding its efforts as it also competes in Moto2 and Moto3.



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