Maverick Vinales says Yamaha’s true gains in top speed weren’t shown on the opening day of the Sepang test as he looks to gradually build up his YZR-M1 during the pre-season.

Fresh from signing a new deal to keep him at Yamaha until the end of 2022, Vinales ended day one of the Sepang test sixth overall and 0.422s off pace-setting Fabio Quartararo who topped the times using the finely-tuned 2019-specification Petronas Yamaha.

Vinales and his fellow Yamaha riders have been eager for stronger top speed from the M1 and after the opening day at the Malaysian Grand Prix venue Valentino Rossi led the Yamaha riders in the speed trap with 327.2km/h – 4km/h down on leader Jack Miller on the Ducait.

The Spanish rider’s best effort in the speed trap of 325.3km/h put him in joint-15th place, equal to KTM duo Dani Pedrosa and Brad Binder, but he is confident there’s more to come from his 2020-specifcation engine.

“Actually, today, I could not feel so much. We were quite far away from the first on top speed, but we are getting closer,” Vinales said. “I think tomorrow we are going to try more things, try to get more top speed, and then we will see also the behaviour of the bike.

“Maybe one thing is good for top speed, but not good for turning, so let’s see.”

Michelin is providing a new rear tyre construction for 2020, aimed at increasing performance and stability, which many in the MotoGP paddock predict will suit the Yamaha package the most having suffered with rear traction issues.

Vinales, who didn’t use the soft option on day one, feels track conditions and grip levels will still be a dominating factor in Yamaha’s traction solutions search.

“Here, it’s a little bit different. In Valencia and Jerez, yes, it had a lot of grip. But here it’s different,” he said. “I didn’t try the soft, so I don’t really know the potential of the soft tyre. But the idea is to keep going like that, especially in slippery conditions, which you find at most of the tracks. But I feel good traction, which is always very important for our bike.

“It’s always so difficult in the test here. If you take the first two hours, and the last 30 minutes, those are the good minutes on the track. The rest is very hot, very slippery, but for us, it's very good to test in these conditions. The more slippery it is, the better it is for us to test.”

With rain interrupting track action midway through the afternoon and again towards the end of the day at Sepang, Vinales was denied the opportunity to complete a series of practice starts as he looks to improve his own performances. In 2019, Vinales would frequently suffer poor starts which dropped him down the running order and made it harder for him to consistently fight at the front.

“I wanted to, but I couldn't, there was too much rain,” he said. “It’s on the schedule every day, six starts. But it started to rain so heavily, then I said, I don’t want to go out. Tomorrow I will do it, on the first lap.”

The Sepang pre-season test continues tomorrow and ends on Sunday (February 9).

 

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