Valentino Rossi saw reasons to be encouraged by Movistar Yamaha’s new seamless-shift gearbox after setting the pace in testing on Monday at Sepang. The Italian was a tenth quicker than Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and although he didn’t feel the YZR-M1 was a transformed machine, he did feel the upgrade made a meaningful difference.
“Everybody in our team was curious about the updated gearbox and the first impression is quite positive, so I’m happy. It doesn’t make a huge difference, but it’s a small help in a difficult point where we need to improve. The bike is a bit better in braking and corner entry and I think we need to work to understand the maximal potential, but the first test was good. I am happy to finish in the first position because I was in P1 from this morning, so it’s a good first day. It’s important for us to make some kilometres on the wet. I don’t really like the feeling with the bike on the wet and last year I struggled a bit. We already improved a bit today, but we need to do some more testing and make some more kilometres.”
By contrast, Jorge Lorenzo struggled for grip and languished down in fifth, three quarters of a second shy of his teammate. The Spaniard revealed he wasn’t feeling 100% fit on Monday, going some way to explaining his lack of pace, but did see the same potential in Yamaha’s new gearbox.
“Today was a pretty tough day for me. I feel the jet lag and last night I was only able to sleep for just four hours. At the beginning of the session we tried the set-up we used at the first Sepang test but nothing worked. We changed so many things on the bike but the result was the same. I’m a bit disappointed because of the results today but at least the new gearbox works well. We need to adjust it a bit but overall it is quite good, especially on braking where we can get more stability. The track conditions were pretty bad compared to the first test. The asphalt had less grip so we struggled a lot with the conditions. Hopefully we can improve our pace tomorrow and check the new things we need to test again before going to Qatar.”