Morbidelli increases pace and confidence on second day in Valencia
Reigning Moto2 World Champion Franco Morbidelli improved his lap time by a second during the second and final day of testing at Valencia, to finish as the fastest of the MotoGP rookies.
It was a satisfying end to a day that started with a first premier class crash for the Italian when he fell victim to a cold tyre at turn 10 on his first run.
But Morbidelli was quick to bounce back, jumping straight onto his spare bike to continue working with his crew on improving his speed through the corners.
While Morbidelli worked to adapt his riding style to better suit the strengths of both the Honda RC213V and the Michelin tyres mid-corner, his crew made changes to both the balance of the bike and the rear suspension settings to reduce rear spinning and improve rear tyre endurance and consistency.
Unfortunately a limited allocation of soft front tyres, one of which was lost in the early morning crash, meant that Morbidelli had to complete the remainder of the test on a used front tyre.
Even so, the Italian set his fastest time right at the end of the day, with a 1'31.786 placing him 16th on the timesheet and just 1.753s off the time set by Marc Márquez.
With Tom Lüthi unfit to ride after his Sepang qualifying crash, his place was taken again today by HRC test rider, and reigning All Japan Superbike Champion, Takumi Takahashi.
Takahashi's crew, headed by Chief Engineer Gilles Bigot, tested a number of changes to both chassis geometry and suspension, as they worked to make the 27-year-old Japanese rider more comfortable with the bike ahead of the season ending test on 23rd and 24th November in Jerez, where he has raced previously aboard a Superbike.
Franco Morbidelli: 16th – 1'31.786
“It was a good two days here and today we improved a lot. I was one second faster compared to yesterday, which is a step I wasn't really expecting, so everything is going pretty good at the moment. Of course I still need to work on my riding style, because this bike is very different to a Moto2. This is the main thing, but then I also need to understand better the electronics, how the balance of the bike changes the feeling and many other things. There is still a lot to learn, so I'm looking forward to getting back on the bike next week in Jerez.”
Takumi Takahashi: 21st – 1'33.870
“I was trying to improve today, but the crash yesterday lost me some confidence, so it wasn't so easy to do the lap time today. We worked on the set-up to make me more comfortable on the bike and I was starting to regain my confidence towards the end of today. Now we go to Jerez for the second test next week. This is my first time in Valencia, but Jerez is a track I raced at earlier this year with the Superbike, so I know it a little better. Of course it will be different on the MotoGP bike, but at least I won't start from zero like here in Valencia and that will make it easier to focus on making improvements.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“It's been an extremely positive first MotoGP test for Franco. It's very easy for MotoGP rookies to be overawed by both the bike and the competition when they make the step up to the premier class, but he is completely unfazed. Instead he has worked closely with his crew, the HRC engineers and the Michelin technicians to understand better both the bike and the tyres and his focus has been on adapting to the demands of MotoGP rather than the lap time. This is the correct way to work as a rookie and he should be satisfied with his premier class debut. Having Takumi Takahashi here standing in for Tom has been a big help for us, as it's allowed us to bring our new crew members up to speed while working with an experienced rider. I would like to thank HRC for making this possible and Takumi himself for a good job over these two days.”