MotoGP

Top 10 a good start for Petronas Yamaha - Morbidelli

Petronas Yamaha ends positive first MotoGP test of 2019 inside the top 10 as Franco Morbidelli makes progress. 

Franco Morbidelli was pleased to break into the top 10 with the newly-formed Petronas Yamaha SRT squad on the final day of the opening MotoGP pre-season test at Sepang.

The 24-year-old Italian ended the first pre-season test of 2019 with the eighth fastest time and just 0.902s off the record pace set by Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci as the Petronas outfit continued its preparations for the new campaign. 

Petronas SRT replaces Tech3 as Yamaha’s B-team for 2019 and both riders enjoyed a positive three-day test, with Morbidelli experimenting with front-end set-ups on his YZR-M1 throughout Friday as he set his quickest lap time of the week. 

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“We did exactly what we wanted to do, we improved the pace and the pure speed, so I’m happy about that,” Morbidelli said. 

“There is still some work to do because the Ducati seemed unreachable. But we are going forward and this is a good thing. For me [being in the top 10] is definitely a good start. 

“We know testing is not a super good indication because always something can change in the race - so it is not the bible but anyway it’s always good to be fast in testing.” 

Asked to highlight the weak areas he felt the team needed to improve on, Morbedelli said: “Acceleration. Acceleration, we all know is our weak point but we are improving. 

“We just need to keep on working like this because we are working well with the Yamaha guys and with the other two riders. I give my feedback and help to them and hopefully altogether we can improve this bike. 

"We are already doing that, so we are improving already.”

MotoGP rookie Fabio Quartararo, who edged teammate Morbidelli on the second day having been upgraded to a current-spec Yamaha, wound up 16th in the timesheets. 

“It was another positive day at Sepang,” Quartararo said. “We did a pretty good lap time in the morning, dipping inside 2’00, but our weak point remains that I am struggling to do a qualifying lap. 

“Despite that I am very happy because on my first ever race simulation on a MotoGP bike I felt physically really good. To me that was another step forward - with the heat here and the track temperature at 60º it is very difficult - and we coped quite well. 

“In Qatar we will have to work on braking and the first turn there will be a good place for that because it is really hard on the brakes. That will be our focus because in the fast corners we are in good shape.” 

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