MotoGP title runner-up Franco Morbidelli came into the opening 2021 pre-season test with some apprehension that winter developments might have allowed rivals to pull clear of his A-Spec machine.

But the Petronas Yamaha rider was put at ease not only by being a frontrunner during both days at Losail, but also the arrival of some 'surprise' new parts for his 2019-based bike.

Those included 'a modified holeshot device' plus 'electronic upgrades', while also working on rear settings for better stability.

"My feeling after this first test is very good. I have to thank Yamaha because they brought updates to my bike and that was really nice to see and a great surprise for me," Morbidelli said.

"So I have improvements on my package and MotoGP is a world where to at least remain where you are, you have to run forward. I think we already improved the package compared to the last years.

"We were able at this test to remain in similar positions, at a similar level to last year, and this is positive."

The Italian, still the only rider on the older A-Spec package, improved from seventh (but top Yamaha) on day one of testing to fourth (+0.213s from former team-mate and new Monster Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo) on the final night.

"It was a positive second day for us. This morning we improved our feeling straight away and we had the chance to go through some small items to try during the day," he said.

"Some of them were good, some of them were not good. So we discarded the ones that were not good and kept the ones that were good.

"Finally, I was able to try a time attack and I was quite close to Fabio. That’s quite encouraging and good already. I’m really happy and pleased with these two days of testing."

Sometimes having new items to test can be a distraction and, as Morbidelli proved last season, more can be gained by refining the current package. But overall, he feels you can only remain competitive in MotoGP for a limited time without a stream of new parts.

Not having new parts "is a good thing (as long as) the parts the others are trying don’t make them better!" Morbidelli said. "Because then it’s better to stay still and work on settings.

"But at some point, you’ll find something new that gives you more potential and more speed.

"I think that’s one of the main keys in MotoGP. Try to build the package and bike around you and try to really have a bike that you can predict what it will do and generally a fast bike. If you try items you can do that. If you don’t try items you are hitting a little bit a wall.

"That’s a bit how it goes. It depends, not by luck, but by the items."

New team-mate Valentino Rossi was 20th fastest on the Factory-spec M1.

Rossi and Morbidelli, who was second fastest to Maverick Vinales at the 2020 Qatar test, will be back on track alongside their 2021 rivals during the final pre-season test from Wednesday to Friday.

 

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