Portimao served as a final call for Marco Melandri. During the two-day test at the Algarve track, the Italian readied his weapons ahead of the Phillip Island round, taking place in less than a month's time. Prior to the test, #33 had a few doubts about the balance of his R1 but the track sessions brought some answers.
“I'm excited because I've come home with a lot of useful information for Australia - begins the GRT rider - the wind was incredibly strong at Portimao and I definitely could have been faster, but I was unlucky. When I put the qualifying tyre in on Sunday, the red flag came out and the same thing happened again on Monday. i'm sorry as I wanted to understand the tyre progress in terms of grip."
What are your feelings at this point?
“I cannot say I'm totally satisfied, but I have clear ideas for Phillip Island”.
Rea finished a second ahead of everyone. Should you be worried?
“Johnny is still the quickest yes, but he doesn't have the advantage he had last year. I think he made more of a difference in the 2018 winter tests. The fact is that he always gives the max right from the start, as he knows his bike, while others need to evaluate and test. What counts during testing is the quality of work, while lap times only tell us so much”.
What are you referring to specifically?
“Johnny had a greater advantage here with respect to Jerez but in terms of race pace we're all close. I think this is one of the aspects to consider for the championship”.
The Yamaha is proved to be at the sharp end in both Spain and Portugal.
“This is clearly a good sign, because it confirms the R1's potential. I have to say the bike has a great character, and delivery is linear and full. Unfortunately I'm still struggling with braking and corner entry, though we have been able to identify the problem”.
In two weeks' time you're off to Australia, a track at which you won last year.
“I'll need to be clean and fluid in my riding at Phillip Island, I expect close-run racing as always, and safeguarding the tyres will be key”.
Does the track suit the characteristics of the R1?
“I think it's a good track for the Yamaha, in that the engine power will be very useful through the fast turns. It can be a good track for me, but also for many others, as the races mirror actual rider levels”.
Will you be re-watching last year's race before you leave?
“I often watch the previous year's races, to understand the approach or lines to follow, we all do this I think. But always with one eye on this year of course”.