Thanks to Zarco’s podium finish at Valencia, Team Tech3 gave Yamaha 2nd place in the manufacturer championship. Saturday evening, on the other hand, the French team had kindly provided some 2016 frames to the factory team which Rossi and Viñales used in the race.
Valentino, why this choice?
“The idea was to make some comparisons in the tests on Tuesday but, since this was the decision, why not do it earlier? Sometimes you understand more during a race than in 10 days of testing.”
What were the sensations?
“The same as last year. The bike is simpler to ride, but there is high rear tyre wear. I think that we figured out something important, but it isn’t all simple.”
It seemed like a desperate move…
“It was definitely a risky decision and it did not solve all the doubts. There is a mystery that I just can’t seem to explain, because today we had the same conditions as last year, identical temperature and even the tyres were the same. And yet, I was 20 seconds slower than my 2016 race time and the winner was also 15 seconds slower. I don’t think the bikes got worse. Something doesn’t make sense.”
But with the 2016 M1, Zarco battled for the win. How do you explain that?
“Johann is a very good rider and he always manages to use softer tyres than the other riders. Besides this, he has been riding this bike for a year and he has more experience than us who have only ridden it since warm up. Also, my bike and his bike were not entirely identical. The engine I use is different, as are many other details. In any case, it was just a test that we had to do and Zarco’s race was outstanding.”
Which base will be used to develop next season’s bike: the 2016 or the 2017 M1?
“That I don’t know. I just finished speaking with the Japanese engineers and they are worried and so am I. They listened to me but they didn’t say what they are going to do.”
What is your idea?
“There is not just one area to work on, but various areas. We’ll have to work on the electronics but also on the bike’s dynamic performance.”
In hindsight, what kind of race would you have been able to do with the 2017 M1?
“Very similar to the one I did. What I expected happened. I realised that I didn’t have great margins for improvement and that is why I decided to take the risk and race with the 2016 frame.”