A new era in MotoGP began today in Valencia, Spain – the Michelin and spec ECU era. Leading the way on the first day of the post-season test was Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez. Marquez set his best lap of 1:31.551 early on his 2015 Honda, the time just.194 of a second slower than the best lap turned in by race winner and newly crowned World Champion Jorge Lorenzo in Sunday’s Grand Prix on Bridgestones.
The times were tight with the he top 15 within a second of Marquez. Just behind Marquez was Ducati’s Andrea Iannone, the Italian managing to best Marquez’ teammate Dani Pedrosa. Team Ecstar Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales was fourth fastest while Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo struggled a bit to end the day fifth.
The general consensus amongst the riders was that they were happy with new rear tire, which had more grip than the Bridgestones, but less happy with the front that was not as predictable. As the riders were coming to grips with the new tires, they kept the crash trucks busy.
“Marc [Marquez] found it in three laps; I found it in eight laps,” Cal Crutchlow said about the limit of the new tires. The LCR Honda rider also expressed concern over the multiple crashes across the board.
“I made a comment earlier in the year that nobody’s changing the bike settings towards the Michelins and their riding style, but I think they have now and we’re still seeing all these crashes,” Crutchlow said. “We need to all start to work together a little bit with this because it’s not like it’s just one of the manufacturers that’s crashing. Twenty five different weights of riders, 25 different styles, 25 different break-ins, 25 different opening the throttle, and we’ve had quite a few incidents of such. It can’t be just the riders.
“But we’ll see. They’re [Michelin] doing a good job. Honestly, they’re listening to a lot of our comments. It’s not easy to come into it with a lot of riders who are angry and just want the season to be over. Then giving them feedback against another tire manufacturer.”
But even more of an issue than the tires for fast-man Marquez was the spec ECU.
“For me, electronics,” Marquez said. “The tires in the end are the same for everybody. The tires will not be the biggest problem; I think Michelin is doing a good job. But then again, the electronics it’s the first time we ride… Looks like it will be difficult to ride at the same level as before.”
Marquez and his teammate Pedrosa also got to try their new engine, which is meant to be less aggressive with the power delivery of the 2015 machine, but Marquez said it difficult to judge because of the problems with the software.
“It’s one of the things we are working with the new engine,” Marquez explained. “Try to be smoother with the torque, try to manage the torque, try to manage the feeling with the gas, the throttle connection. We are working there, but with less electronics, of course, if you have an aggressive engine you will have more cuts. It looks like this electronics is working a little bit slower – the cuts are coming later and bigger. So we must fix.”
“When I tried the new electronics the bike was completely different,” Pedrosa said. “It was clear that it was a step back. So there is a lot of work to do and also a lot of setup to do. The big thing is that it looks like that the controls are behaving in not the right order and not at the right time.”
How far of a setback is it?
“Many, many years,” Pedrosa responded.
2015 MotoGP Valencia Test Day One Results
1. Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1:31.551
2. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Ducati 1:31.639
3. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1:31.681
4. Maverick Vinales (SPA) Team Suzuki Ecstar 1:31.720
5. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Movistar Yamaha 1:31.767
6. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) LCR Honda 1:31.911
7. Pol Espargaro (SPA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1:31.937
8. Bradley Smith (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1:31.997
9. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Team Suzuki Ecstar 1:32.005
10. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati 1:32.073
11. Scott Redding (GBR) Octo Pramac Racing Ducati 1:32.214
12. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Movistar Yamaha 1:32.401
13. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Octo Pramac Racing Ducati 1:32.422
14. Hector Barbera (SPA) Avintia Ducati 1:32.468
15. Jack Miller (AUS) Marc VDS Honda 1:32.594
16. Tito Rabat (SPA) EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 1:32.673
17. Stefan Bradl (GER) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1:32.721
18. Loris Baz (FRA) Avintia Ducati 1:32.943
19. Yonny Hernandez (COL) Aspar Ducati 1:33.046
20. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1:33.061
21. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aspar Ducati 1:33.253
22. Takuya Tsuda (JPN) Suzuki Test Team 1:34.591
23. Nobuatsu Aoki (JPN) Suzuki Test Team 1:36.338