Monster Yamaha Tech3 duo Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith were back on board their Yamaha YZR-M1’s today at the first day of action in Malaysia as they rode their first laps of the year after the winter break which lasted for two months. Both riders eagerly began working on setting up this year’s Yamaha MotoGP bike together with the new electronics package and the Michelin tyres, with the opening findings being positive.
Pol Espargaro leapt straight into gear as soon as the opening shakedown began and he embarked on his testing programme, before setting a personal best of 2’02.646 on his 27th lap. Meanwhile, Bradley Smith finished the day three places behind his teammate, after tirelessly completing 55 laps as he collected vital information for the upcoming season. The hard work will continue tomorrow with both riders fully confident of making further steps forward and lowering their lap times.
Position : 12th - Time : 2'02.646 - Laps : 42
"It has been a constructive start to the year. When looking at the time sheet it’s easy to see that we did not achieve anything special, but I can’t hide that my feelings are positive. We were able to try the new electronics for the first time and I am glad to say that it’s much better than we expected after what we heard from other people. Of course, we are quite far behind the other manufacturers and also Yamaha Factory, but I’m convinced that there is a huge margin of improvement to make which can can do and the most important thing is that I like how I now have to ride the bike. It goes without saying that it will take us some time to make up the ground and also because we have less engineers than a factory team, but I’m confident that the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team will do a good job. Also the new Michelin front tyres were a positive aspect of the day and you can really feel that they worked a lot on them. We had several front compounds today which all performed well and were absolutely safe. Beside the encouraging technical news, I’m also very pleased that my physical condition seems to be very strong, because even though we rode quite a lot of laps, I do not feel particularly tired. Of course, there are some muscles which we haven’t used since Valencia and for sure the hardest moments are yet to come, with getting up tomorrow morning being crucial, but already, I can’t wait to get back on my Yamaha. Today flew by and we still have a lot of things to test, so we’ll be ready as soon as the light turns green in the morning.”
Position : 15th - Time : 2'03.026 - Laps : 55
"I am pleased to be back after what has been such a long break. I rode a lot of laps today and we did some solid work. Unfortunately I fell at the last corner, however in a strange way, I’m pleased to get my first crash of the year over and done with! It was my fault because I was trying to understand the front tyre, as it is a new style and we were intending to find where the limit is. I was experimenting with this in the hard braking corners and in the last turn I went onto the dirty side of the track and then unfortunately fell. Besides that, we had some small issues today which forced us to make a few changes with the electronics as well as the engine. As a result, we lost a bit of time but I was still able to make a comparison between last seasons’ electronics and this year’s so now we have a clear indication of what we need to do next. Michelin have done a convincing job so far and they’ve brought two compounds of front and rear tyre that are working well here, so they’ve made a significant step from last year at the Valencia test. If you look at the Yamaha riders, it’s clear to see that Jorge and Vale are running well, but I’m sure that once we have had a bit more time with the 2016 electronics, we’ll be able to improve and climb up the rankings. Anyway, I rode 55 decent laps today and now we have a solid plan and a good base to carry on with in the next two days.”