Damp start for Morbidelli and Lüthi at Sepang
Early morning rain meant that the first laps of the 2018 Sepang MotoGP test for both Franco Morbidelli and Tom Lüthi were completed on a damp track.
The rain stayed away during the morning session, but damp patches remained on the track throughout and it was only after lunch that the riders were able to venture out onto a fully dry track.
For Morbidelli the wet track provided an ideal opportunity to test his Honda RC213V on Michelin's treaded wet tyres for the first time, but once the track started to dry the Italian, along with the majority of the other MotoGP riders, opted to call a temporary halt to testing and wait until the track was completely free of damp patches.
The afternoon session was held in near perfect conditions and Morbidelli was able to focus on rediscovering his rhythm after almost two months off the bike. The Italian then moved on to refining the set up of his Honda RC213V to better suit the characteristics of the wide and fast Sepang circuit.
Having missed the post-season tests in Valencia and Jerez through injury, Lüthi finally got to make his MotoGP debut this morning in Sepang, albeit in less than ideal conditions. Like his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS teammate, the Swiss rider headed out on wet tyres for his first run and his first experience of Honda's RC213V MotoGP machine.
The better weather conditions this afternoon provided the perfect opportunity for Lüthi to start his adaptation from Moto2 to MotoGP rider, with the former 125cc World Champion declaring himself happy with the progress made during his first day in the premier class.
Franco Morbidelli: 2'01.161 – 62 Laps
“It was a good day, as we got to test in many different conditions and that gave us the chance to learn a lot. When the track dried in the afternoon we did some work on basic set up and saw some improvement, but this is MotoGP and the level is so high that we still have a lot of work to do because we need to improve a lot more. It's good to be back on the bike after the break and today was a chance to recalibrate the brain. Now, tomorrow, we need to continue looking for the improvements that will allow us to close a little the gap to the top of the timesheet.”
Tom Lüthi: 2'03.732 – 58 Laps
“After missing the tests in Valencia and Jerez I was excited to finally get the chance to ride the MotoGP bike today, even if the first run was a little difficult because of the conditions. Early rain meant my first experience of the Honda RC213V was in the wet, which meant it wasn't so easy to get a feeling with the bike. But then it dried up and we could start to work with the bike. I think it's important that we keep the line; try to understand the bike, try to understand the tyres then figure out how to get the best from both to improve the lap time. Today was good, but there are still many things to learn.”