We are now less than two weeks away from the opening race of the season at the Losail International Circuit, and one team is stealing all the headlights.
Monster Energy Yamaha have completed a great few weeks of testing that started in Sepang, before the recent three day Qatar test.
Topping the leaderbaord was Maverick Vinales, whose preparation for the 2020 season has been as smooth as any rider could wish.
Vinales focused heavily on long run pace during the winter testing, with the final day of running about understanding used tyre performance.
“Today has been a really good day for us because we have been working with very used tyres, especially when the conditions were difficult.
We were trying to adapt ourselves when the conditions weren‘t good. I tried my best with used tyres because sometimes in the race you get a kind of difficult feeling. So, I tried to understand what I have to do when the condition is not good on the track.”
Since gathering a new team around him in 2019, Vinales has been a much more content rider, which was shown in his results.
The 25 year-old said: “I‘m very happy, the team has been working in a really good way. Six days of testing, and I feel good with the bike. I feel the bike is there, and now we need to continue working, because there‘s a good progression but it‘s still not enough.
Honestly, I enjoyed these last three days on the bike so much. For sure it‘s going to be a long week, so I can‘t wait for next Friday and especially Sunday on the grid.”
While not putting in any flash lap times, Valentino Rossi has been equally happy with testing and the direction of the 2020 Yamaha M1.
Rossi finished day three in twelfth place, but as expected worked heavily on the setup and finding the feeling he wants over race distance.
The Italian did have a small off on day three at turn two, but it was nothing to worry about as he returned to action in the final hour.
Speaking after the day’s events, Rossi said: “First of all, it is incredible because also today we have fifteen riders within maybe half a second.
It‘s like Moto2, so this is very good for the championship, the fans, and the races, because it looks like there‘s a good balance between the different riders and bikes.
Today we are a little bit worried, not so much about the position – unfortunately I crashed with the second tyre and I think I could have improved the lap time – but more about the pace.”
The one area Rossi does seem to be struggling with compared to his teammate and other Yamaha riders, is a common theme from last year.
After several laps, keeping the same pace up seems to be a challenge, and while the bike is better overall, Rossi acknowledged everything is different on a race weekend.
“We tried to make some long runs, but we had some problems with the tyres very similar to last year, so it looks like, that after some laps, unfortunately I have to slow down and this is not good news.
But now the tests are finished we will see during the race weekends. In the races it‘s always different.”
The test unlike previous seasons, has not been about setting the fastest lap especially in the case of Vinales, but instead working on the whole package and finding what could bring the team a more formidable bike over the course of 20 races.
With both Honda and Ducati seemingly struggling compared to Yamaha and Suzuki so far in 2020, the first few races will only enhance the team’s victory aspirations.