This brought some answers for Valentino Rossi, the Italian having spent months interpreting the expressions of the Japanese to try and understand if his requests had, in turn, been understood. It appears that they have been, considering his third place finish today, with team-mate Vinales closing on top. The M1, unchanged in terms of its chassis, has two new engines, one of which was tested today, the other ready for tomorrow.
“Even though I didn't have a lot of time due to the rain, only completing around forty laps, it's been a positive day. And I was able to make the most important comparison, regarding the engines”.
And what is your feeling?
“The aim was to have smoother delivery, so as to stress the tyres less, a problem we've suffered with recently. My initial feeling is good, as were the lap times”.
So it's all resolved?
“The engine has a different engine brake and that is of some help when riding. The M1 is easier to ride now, both in terms of corner entry and exit, so I can be more constant. Also in acceleration, the character of the engine is smoother, but it's not perfect as there was still some rear tyre degradation after several laps. It's also true that track conditions weren't great and the tyres may have been affected”.
But you're optimistic?
“it looks like we're moving in the right direction. I won't say the tests at Valencia and Jerez are crucial but there are very important. We need to provide the right indications, and so the first goal is to identify which path to take”.
Are there new chassis components too?
“The frame is not a priority right now, but I'm sure there will be new things further on”.
Have you received what you wanted?
“The riding sensations are definitely positive, but the commitment Yamaha is demonstrating is most important. Many engineers arrived at Valencia already on Friday and they have the right approach. It's been a great first day, but we need to work well in preparation for February”.
The test team also made its debut with Folger…
“It's very important in the current MotoGP to have a test rider that rides at the European tracks, as the Japanese ones are totally different. it's also important to have a rider like Jonas, who is very talented, knows the M1 and can take it to the limit. He tested the M1 that I used during the race today, to gain confidence, but he's already providing some interesting feedback".
Morbidelli clearly seems to like the Yamaha…
“He did really, really well. I followed him on track and saw he was comfortable on the M1. It's always great when you go from a less competitive bike to a better one, it spurs you on psychologically. Having a fast rider like Franco could be helpful because he will bring more data and ideas, like Zarco did”.
And what about your pupil Bagnaia.
“He's strong too, I followed him, he rides well and could be a real problem next season. Mir also looks in good shape”.
“When I came across him on track he wasn't going very fast, he didn't seem comfortable on the bike. But he has a wrist injury and that will have a bearing”.