Morbidelli makes MotoGP debut in Valencia

Morbidelli makes MotoGP debut in Valencia

2017 Moto2 World Champion Franco Morbidelli made his debut aboard the MotoGP machine he'll campaign in Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS colours in 2018 during the first of two days of testing in Valencia.

The Italian returned to the pit box after his first nine-lap run aboard the Honda RC213V with a huge smile on his face and his first comment to his new crew was “it's fun!”

With the introductions made Morbidelli continued the familiarisation process, working to adapt a riding style honed during four seasons in Moto2 to better suit the characteristics of the heavier, more powerful MotoGP machine and the Michelin tyres.

Morbidelli declared himself happy with his first day as a MotoGP rider, which he finished in 18th position with a best time of 1'32.762.

Tom Lüthi was unable to make his planned premier class debut at Valencia today, as the Swiss rider is still recovering from the leg injury sustained in his Sepang qualifying crash three weeks ago.

The severity of the injury means that Lüthi will also miss the final test of 2017 in Jerez, but he will return to action during the first official test of 2018 at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.

Standing in for Lüthi at Valencia is HRC test rider and reigning Japanese Superbike Champion, Takumi Takahashi. The 27-year-old Japanese rider posted a best time of 1'33.569 to finish the day 19th, despite walking away uninjured from a heavy crash at turn 10 late in the afternoon.

Franco Morbidelli
“It was a good first day and I enjoyed it a lot on the bike. It was nice to finally test a MotoGP bike and it was good to start work with my new crew, the engineers from HRC and the technicians from Michelin. The biggest differences compared to the Moto2 bike are the power, which is amazing but with a very rider friendly delivery and the braking, which is much more physically demanding than in Moto2, mainly because you arrive at the corner so much faster. We are already starting to improve the bike for me and tomorrow we'll continue with that. Both Valentino and Marc came by me today and I think they did a slower lap in front of me, maybe to show me the lines, and that was a very emotional moment for me.”

Takumi Takahashi
“This is my first time here in Valencia, so this morning was all about familiarising myself with the circuit before starting to work on improving the set up of the bike. We tried many things and managed to make some improvements over the course of the day but, unfortunately, I crashed at turn 10 and that meant we stopped testing a little earlier than planned. I am looking forward to returning to the track tomorrow, when I hope we can continue to improve.”