Valentino Rossi's Yamaha M1
David Emmett: The Yamaha M1 barely seems to change from year to year. In recent seasons, even the livery has remained almost identical. Yamaha's philosophy is one of evolution and refinement, and that is not always obvious from the outside. Despite the lack of outward change, there are some major changes to the 2019 Yamaha M1. Yamaha is continuing along the path of moving weight to the rear of the bike, and the bike has new chassis parts (including a new frame) to help with tire life. The biggest changes have been on the electronics side, optimizing the Magneti Marelli spec ECU software.
Press releases from the factories and teams after the first MotoGP test of 2019 at Sepang:
It was 7:30 in the evening, and we were standing on the porch of the Petronas Yamaha SRT hospitality chalet, talking to Fabio Quartararo about how his day had gone when the rain came. It was a brief, intense shower filling the air with the sweet scent that comes when rain falls after a period of intense heat. It seemed a somehow fitting end to one of the most intriguing MotoGP tests in years.
The weather had played a major role in the test, though this time, for all the right reasons. Normally, test days at Sepang are disrupted in the late afternoon by a heavy rainfall, leaving teams trying to cram as much work as possible into the mornings, and hoping that the track dries out in the afternoon. Every shower brings dust and dirt to the track, washing away some of the rubber laid down on the track, slowing the track down.
But not this time. There was a brief thunderstorm on Monday night, but that was the last rain to fall at the circuit until Friday night. Three full days of a dry track, the pace increasing as more and more rubber got laid down. It should hardly be surprising that Jorge Lorenzo's fastest ever lap of the circuit, set last year, should be broken. But that it should be broken by nearly six tenths of a second, and by six riders, is a sign both of just how good the track conditions were, and just how competitive the field is currently in MotoGP.
No changes at the top of the standings from lunchtime.
Times at the end of Friday:
Times at 4:30pm:
For fans of technological innovation, the first day of the Sepang MotoGP test had been something of a disappointment. There were very few clearly visible upgrades to the bikes on display on Wednesday, teams using the first day to get themselves accustomed, and focus on checking the engine choices made back at the November tests. There were one or two things going on, but they weren't obviously visible to casual fans.
Thursday was a much better day for MotoGP tech nerds. New parts started to appear, as factories started working their way through the list of parts they have prepared for the 2019 season. Suzuki debuted a new fairing, with a more Yamaha-like aero package, with wider wing surfaces and a slimmer side section.
Alex Rins was positive about the new fairing. "It gave me more support on the front, less wheelie, which is important for the speed. We are faster on the straight because of the fairing – it’s more aerodynamic. The front wheel is more on the floor." That was borne out by his lap times, the Spaniard finishing with the second fastest time of the day, and the second highest number of laps in 1'59, including a run of four in a row. This was pace, rather than just a single quick lap.
Hitting the holeshot
All eyes were on Ducati, however, as a mystery lever appeared on the top of the Desmosedici GP19's (and only the GP19) top triple clamp:
Times at 1pm:
With two days of testing already under their belts, and perfect track conditions in the cool of the morning, the MotoGP riders are obliterating records at the Sepang test. Maverick Viñales was the first rider to break through Jorge Lorenzo's old record of 1'58.830, but as 11am approached, rider after rider smashed through it, with Danilo Petrucci destroying it by near six tenths.
Maverick Viñales comes within seven hundredths of a second of Jorge Lorenzo's fastest two-wheeled lap around Sepang, set during the test last year.
Final times on Thursday: