Successful Sepang Test Concludes With Quartararo On Top

A successful test at Sepang International Circuit concludes for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT with Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli first and 13th.

The opening MotoGP test of 2020 has come to a successful conclusion for PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team riders Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli. Across the three days the team has been able to build up vital knowledge as they prepare for the season start next month in Qatar.

Once again Quartararo was one of the first riders out on track to run a series of time-attack laps, which saw him improve upon his best time from yesterday, despite experiencing some difficulties, before testing Michelin’s new rear tyre compounds. After an early lunch break, Fabio was able to focus his attention on a long run at a time of day representative of a race start. The Frenchman rounded out the session with a series of practice starts and finished the final day of testing at the top of the time sheets with a best lap of 1min 58.349secs, out of the 57 completed.

Morbidelli had initially planned to join his team-mate in the series of time attack runs, but needed to test some different bike setups instead to combat some front-end chatter. After working through this Franco was able to resume his testing programme in the afternoon, where he proceeded to enjoy more laps on his Yamaha YZR-M1 and finished the day with a total of 58 laps on the board. His best time was a 1min 58.838secs, which in an exceedingly close session placed him 13th – just 0.489secs shy of Fabio.

With testing at Sepang now at an end PETRONAS Yamaha SRT will have to some time to assess their learnings before turning their attention to the next MotoGP Official Test in Qatar (22-24 February), which will be the last test before action gets underway at the first round of the year (6-8 March), also held in Qatar.

Fabio Quartararo: “Today was a difficult day for us, it was not easy to get into the pace and make a good lap this morning, but overall I’m really happy. We did a long run of 12 laps in the hottest conditions when there was nobody on track. It was not bad: our pace was high 1min 59sec and low 2mins, it was 55 degrees on track and nobody else was riding so it was probably the worst track conditions we had today. We are working in a really good way to improve the speed and hopefully in Qatar we will take another step forward. My goal now has changed a little bit; we want to have better long run pace, because we now know over one lap we are fast. Overall, I’m really happy with the first test of the year with the 2020 bike.”

Franco Morbidelli: “I feel quite happy about this test as we’ve been working a lot and we understand many things on the new bike. I also already feel that I have good confidence with the new bike. We didn’t use the super soft tyre today to make the time attack, we used it yesterday just for normal running. So I think that is why we are not higher up the timings today. But even with the normal tyre on the time attack our pace is not so far off the top. I understand a lot from these three days and we know what we need to work on in Qatar. It has been overall a good test and I look forward to Qatar now and we try to do a good job there also.”

Wilco Zeelenberg: “The first test for season 2020 is done. It was a very positive test with no crazy things happening! We had good weather across the test. For Fabio to have three days on top of the time sheets is very promising. I’m also very happy to see Franco riding like he is at the moment. I think he understands the bike better than he did last year and he also made some good steps forward. We did what we had to do and tested what we had to be doing, there were no big crashes and now we’re ready for the Qatar test.”

Razlan Razali: “I’m glad we got the launch and the announcements out of the way before the test began as it meant that our riders could fully focus on the three day test without any distractions. In general, I think the test went very well. Although we can’t really look too much at the timings yet, I think psychologically it’s good for the riders to be quick, and for the competitors to see as well. So far everything seems positive: Fabio is doing great on the new bike that he’s had for only two days and Franco is making progress with his bike as well. At the same time we’ve also managed to engage the riders with the fans here the last three days, and with our guests. I think generally it was a very positive test.”

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