The curtain has officially gone up on 2018 at Valencia.Day one of MotoGP testing at the Ricardo Tormo track in preparation for next season. Also in action with the new prototypes are top class rookies Franco Morbidelli, Xavier Simeon and Takaaki Nakagami.
The spotlight, however, was firmly on Yamaha 'youngsters' Maverick Vinales and Johann Zarco.
After a disappointing race weekend, the Yamaha rider set the best lap time of the day with a 1’30”189, roughly two tenths from Marc Marquez's pole time on Saturday. The Spaniard made the most of the session, carrying out a comparison between the 2017 and 2016 versions of the M1, showing off the winged fairing and completing 80 laps. No other rider spent as long on track.
Setting #25 in his sights was Johann Zarco (+0,200), also busy working with the latest M1. The Frenchman confirmed his affinity with the Valencia track and the new bike, even closing ahead of Valentino Rossi (+0.330). A bittersweet Tuesday for the Doctor, who crashed at turn 10 shortly before midday, destroying his Yamaha, as well as the engine in its 2018 pre-configuration, though luckily he was unhurt in the incident.
The nine-time champion carried out similar work to his team-mate, using both M1s, but he was unable to reach the top of the timesheets today. At the day's end, he's in fourth position, just 0.018 of a second behind Marc Marquez.
While Yamaha flaunted the winged fairing, the #93 Honda rider surprised with the prototype of the new RC213-V, just like Dani Pedrosa (+1.139), who was in eleventh place at the end of the session, more than a second behind leader Maverick Vinales.
The days surprises also included the fifth fastest time set by Jack Miller (+0.446), making his debut with the team Pramac Ducati. The Australian closes ahead of Aleix Espargarò on the Aprilia and even the official Ducatis of Andrea Dovizioso (+0.661) and Jorge Lorenzo (+0.870). Dall’Igna was clear: we'll not see the new red bike until Sepang, today fans were only able to see a few of the new features of the 17.5 still in development. Dovizioso played things down but in reality there was a new bike, complete with frame and accessories, not just a new Ohlins fork as he said.
Also inside the top ten were the KTM of Pol Espargarò and the Honda of Cal Crutchlow, while Danilo Petrucci settles for 14th place, confirming his difficulties at the Ricardo Tormo track.
Let's not forget the rookies in the top class. The best of the day was Takaaki Nakagami (+2.534) with the Honda of team LCR. Despite finishing 15th behind Redding on the Aprilia and Abraham on the Ducati, the Japanese rider finished 0.030 of a second ahead of Franco Morbidelli. The Italian, who also ran off track this morning, completed 78 laps in total. Another rookie, Xavier Simeon, rounds out the group; after suffering a crash, he closed four seconds behind the fastest rider.
We remind you that Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins are not testing, due to a stomach complaint, while Alvaro Bautista finished up ahead of time due to a crash. The Spaniard has suffered no fractures.