Suzuki and Yamaha were regarded as the bikes to beat for pace by the end of the opening 2020 MotoGP test, at Sepang.

Compared to their V4 opponents, the inline four-cylinder machines rely more on corner speed than straight-line performance and Petronas Yamaha's Franco Morbidelli confirmed they seemed to benefit from the extra grip provided by the new Michelin rear tyre.

"Especially the Suzuki" looked like the bike at Sepang, said the Italian. "I can speak for us, I don't know about Suzuki, but the new tyre gives a little bit more grip and it fills our emptiness of grip that we had last year, so that's positive for us.

"This tyre just performs better, so we can have more edge grip and drive grip."

However, Morbidelli was more cautious in terms of the tyre degradation issues he and especially Valentino Rossi often suffered with at the end of races last year.

"Difficult to say yet. I didn't try a long run, neither did Vale. Fabio did, but he had a drop..."

Morbidelli was ranked fifth after day two (+0.259s) before slipping to 13th on the final day (+0.489s) but explained he hadn’t gone for another time attack and was pleased with his pace.

"I already have good confidence with the new bike. We didn't try the 'supersoft', we tried it yesterday just for normal working. I think that's the reason why we are not too much ahead on the timing charts.

"But pace-wise we are not so far from the top guys, which I think are Rins especially, but also the other Suzuki of Mir and Maverick [Vinales]."

Morbidelli will be the only Yamaha rider on an A-Spec machine this season with team-mate Fabio Quartararo joining Vinales and Valentino Rossi on the Factory-Spec.

Might that mean the early rounds offer Morbidelli's best chance of success, before the Factory bikes develop further?

"Well, all rounds of the year are the ones to target, but knowing that I will not have too much development on the bike - maybe - the first races of the year are the ones that I have to bite more, but actually I will try to bite in every race of the year," he said.

And Morbidelli did receive some new parts at Sepang, including the carbon fibre swingarm.

"We are trying to understand which is better, carbon or aluminium, so we will have to collect some more data to understand well which one to use in the race," he said. "At the moment the carbon one is working quite well, but we will have to see how it behaves in different tracks and conditions."

The next and final chance to make such a comparison before the season begins will be at the Qatar test from February 22-24, when Morbidelli will also try and hone the braking performance of his M1.

"We will try to work a little more in the braking area in Qatar because we didn’t work too much on that here and I felt some margin to improve."

Quartararo, who will replace Rossi in the factory team in 2021, was fastest over all three days at Sepang.

 

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