Yamaha’s Vinales Tops Valencia MotoGP Post-Season Test (Recap)

2018 Valencia MotoGP Post-Season Test Maverick Vinales
Yamaha's Maverick Vinales

2018 Valencia MotoGP Post-Season Test Results

The traditional post-season MotoGP test at Valencia – the first time riders get to pilot their new 2019 prototypes – wrapped up Wednesday.

One rider dominated both days – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Vinales. The Spaniard was quickest Tuesday under wet conditions, but even faster Wednesday, which was held under dry conditions.

2018 Valencia MotoGP Post-Season Test Maverick Vinales
Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales

Vinales top time of the test was a 1:30.757. To put this time into perspective, the best lap (of all riding sessions) at Valencia is a 1:29401 set by Jorge Lorenzo in 2014 when the Spaniard was riding with the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team.

Vinales was 0.133 of a second faster than Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, and 0.154 ahead of Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, the 2018 MotoGP Champion.

For Viñales and teammate Valentino Rossi – who ended the test eighth fastest – another new spec of engine was available for them to test, after Tuesday saw them test the first spec of the 2019 Yamaha engine. Ending the test top can only be a good sign for the Spaniard, who managed to complete 57 laps on Day 2, setting his quickest time on his 50th lap as we saw a mini time attack occur during the afternoon.

2018 Valencia MotoGP Post-Season Test Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso

Viñales said it will now be important to continue testing in Jerez, feeling like they’ve made good progress but needing more time on the new one after another slightly later start on Day 2 due to a damp track. For nine-time World Champion Rossi, meanwhile, a good haul of 63 laps were set as the Italian ended the day 0.614 off his teammate.

“It has been a positive test,” Maverick Vinales said. “We’ve been working a lot on improving for the first lap of the race. I’m actually really happy because from the first lap I felt good grip and I could push. There’s still work to do to further improve the engine braking and the smoothness of the power, so that’s what we will work on in Jerez. It was unlucky that we couldn’t ride all day, like we had planned.

“We couldn’t test the engines very well, so we’re going to decide after Jerez which of the two we choose. As I said, we need to try more, to be more convinced about the engine decision, but I think we’re on the right track. We need to focus on the riding style and getting a smoother bike will be very important, especially when there’s no grip during the race, but there is an upgrade coming that will help a lot.

“In these last two days I only focused on the engine and didn’t touch anything concerning the setting. I think we could have improved the set-up for Valencia a lot, but I’m happy that just focusing on the engine we improved by some tenths.”

Marquez finished third overall. The Spaniard, along with new teammate Jorge Lorenzo, used the “second version” 2019 RC213V.

2018 Valencia MotoGP Post-Season Test Honda's Marc Marquez
Honda’s Marc Marquez

This RC213V isn’t the full 2019 version, but a combination of parts including the chassis, engine, a Ducati-esque tank modification on Lorenzo’s bike, aero packages, a new air intake, new suspension and a relocated steering damper.

MotoGP reports that Honda had different combinations of everything and Marquez said he was concentrating on the engine, too. Plenty of laps were done by both multiple World Champions – neither of whom are at full power with some injury struggles – on a productive day, with Marquez ending P3 after 53 laps, with Lorenzo completing 46 laps – 0.827 off the top for the “Spartan.”

The number 93 rider Marquez said: “It’s interesting because Lorenzo already tried the new bike. Step by step. The Honda is a difficult bike in the first days but he will arrive soon.”

In the Ducati garage, Dovizioso completed 57 laps. The number 04 and new teammate Danilo Petrucci were on Desmosedicis that were very close to being 2019 specs, the latter ending the day fifth fastest after 60 laps – 0.202 of a second behind Vinales.

Meanwhile, Ducati test rider Michele Pirro – who crashed at Turn 2 – was on the full spec 2019 machine, with Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) on board a “first step” 2019 bike, according to Team Manager Davide Tardozzi. Dovizioso commented he’d found something “interesting” that will now be explored further at Jerez.

VR46 Academy rider and YZR-M1 rookie Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), meanwhile, did 57 laps as he continues to adjust from Honda to Yamaha – but that adjusting doesn’t seem to be taking the 2017 Moto2 Champion long.

2018 Valencia MotoGP Post-Season Test Ducati Danilo Petrucci
Ducati’s Danilio Petrucci

Interestingly, Morbidelli was also riding with a new spec engine to finish Day 2 just 0.217 of a second behind Viñales, but he was on a 2017 chassis. Carbon forks were also used by Morbidelli, while rookie teammate Fabio Quartararo got a valuable 63 laps (101 in total) under his belt as he impressed on his premier class debut – just 1.334 separated the Frenchman from the fastest time set.

It was another good day for 2018 Moto2 World Champion Francesco Bagnaia, who – also according to Tardozzi – was on an early 2018 spec Ducati. The rookie was able to lap 49 times on Day 2 to bring his overall tally up to 87 as he ends the test just 0.648 off the fastest time. Fellow Desmosedici rider Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) returned to MotoGP™ action at the Valencia Test, and impressed immensely. Still nowhere near 100% fit, the Spaniard completed 59 laps on his GP18 on Day 2 – in addition to his 36 on Day 1 – to finish just over a second off pacesetter Viñales.

Elsewhere, some big news from the test over at Team Suzuki Ecstar was the new engine that Alex Rins was testing on Wednesday. The Spaniard was able to register 69 laps and set the seventh fastest time of the test, 0.497 from Viñales. And what about teammate Joan Mir? Well, the rookie continued his very solid debut to finish 0.957 off P1 after getting 56 laps done. Team Manager Davide Brivio says the engine will also be a key focus in Jerez, before important decisions are made going into the winter break.

At KTM, it was a more difficult second day for Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) as he crashed twice on Day 2 trying to find the limit, ending the two-day test 1.752 off Viñales’ time. 50 laps were completed by the Frenchman, who was again the first rider to head out after the Circuit Ricardo Tormo took a while to dry in the morning. Teammate Pol Espargaro ended 0.871 from Viñales in P13, 47 laps fulfilled for the Spaniard who had a new fairing to try – and was focusing on electronics, as he’d reported on Day 1. “By the end, we wanted to do a fast lap time because it’s what people see, but we had some problems with that. Anyway, I think we’ve done a good job. We tried many things on the bike. All the staff are happy and have still a lot of things to try. We’ll continue in Jerez!”

2018 Valencia MotoGP Post-Season Test Honda's Jorge Lorenzo
Honda’s Jorge Lorenzo

There was a late crash for Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) at Turn 10 after the Malaysian continued his adaptation to a new machine, with both he and teammate Miguel Oliveira riding 2019 RC16 machines. The Portuguese rider completed 46 laps on Day 2 – 79 in total – to finish 3.041 from the top, shaving over a second off his fastest time from Day 1.

With Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) crashing twice and test rider Bradley Smith crashing once, it was also a difficult day for the new Noale factory riders, although Iannone shrugged off his two crashes as a natural consequence of finding the limit on a new bike. Teammate Aleix Espargaro was on engine testing duty and trying chassis updates, and a P10 finish and 55 laps completed signalled a solid day’s work as the Spaniard ended the two days 0.643 off the pace. Iannone was able to get 32 laps done, with Smith putting in the work to get 58 circulations complete.

That’s a wrap from Valencia now, but there’s more action coming before the winter break! Make sure to keep up to date from the Jerez Test on the 28th and 29th November.