Valencia MotoGP Test: Marquez: We can gain with '18 engine
Marc Marquez samples three different evolutions of the Honda RC213V at Valencia, will not test at Jerez next week as electronics already in a good place.
Three days on from securing his fourth premier class title, Marquez was tasked with putting three bikes through their paces: the machine with which he ended the season; his ’17 bike with an updated frame; and Honda’s all-new ’18 prototype.
And while he posted his fastest time on this year’s machine, the 24-year old was appeared to be more excited by the potential of the ’18 prototype. Its engine, he said, has more power in the lower and top ends.
What’s more, the electronics settings were already fairly accurate, even at such an early stage. “It’s the first time with such a new engine I feel inside the parametres,” he said, a contrast to when Honda rolled out its new bike at this test at the close of 2015 and '16.
As a result Marquez and Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa will not test at Jerez next week. The pair had set some test days aside to develop the ’18 bike further at the Andalusian track – perhaps a sign the pair are already confident with regards to next year’s machine.
“We tried the current bike, the bike I used this year, and then like yesterday, we tried a small modification on that bike that was more on the chassis area,” he said. “And then the new prototype, and the new prototype is completely new, and of course when everything is new we had a small problem. That's normal, the first time on the track.
“But anyway, it was working well, we had some interesting points, of course with the new prototype we still need to understand many, many things, because it was not only the new engine, it was also the chassis area which had many different parts. Now we need to understand well, and especially choose the correct way, the correct decision for the Malaysia test, because it will be the next time that we will ride with the bike.
“Always when you get a new engine they try to give more power to you, and we gained, especially on the bottom, we gained a little bit more power. Also in the top, we gained there. Still they are looking forward to doing more steps. Like always they are trying to improve the performance.
“I'm happy because it's the first time that with such a new engine I feel inside the parametres, you know? Normally every year I was starting here and we were talking one year ago here, saying the electronics are not there, we need to work on the electronics. But now it's inside the parameters in this circuit, but now we need to reconfirm in February.
“The prototype engine yes, we can gain there. But we need to work on the chassis area. The chassis that we had today, there were many, many new parts, and now we need to understand which part was better, which part was worse. But we need to choose, the engine is good, the chassis? Doubts.”
The new engine was aimed at providing, "more power without losing the smooth character from the bottom [of the rpm].
"Valencia is not fantastic for testing the engine because it is quite small. But you can understand and we will continue to try it also in Sepang in ten days time."
The fact Rossi chose to evaluate the new engine with the 2016 chassis underlined that, like team-mate Maverick Vinales, the Italian favours that frame at the Spanish circuit.
But Rossi ruled out the new engine solving the rear-tyre degradation issues, which he feels is the main downside of the 2016 chassis.
"No. The engine doesn't help. We need something else."
Yamaha's private Sepang test will now be used to make a final decision on the direction of the 2018 machine; engine and chassis.
"We will have the same chassis [options] at Sepang as here," Rossi said. "It was already the plan, sincerely. Because the last chassis that we used [the 2018 prototype, which debuted at Silverstone] was prepared for the end of this season, but we decided to use it before."
Rossi hopes that the final 2018 Yamaha will then be ready in time for the next official test, to be held at the same Malaysian circuit in late January.
"I hope it will be ready, because for me Yamaha have to do a long job with the balance of the bike."
In other words, the chassis.