Analysis: 10 things we learned from the Phillip Island MotoGP test

With the second test of the 2016 MotoGP pre-season now in the history books, Oriol Puigdemont analyses the key players' form in the three days at Phillip Island.

Analysis: 10 things we learned from the Phillip Island MotoGP test
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Maverick Viñales, Team Suzuki MotoGP
Maverick Viñales, Team Suzuki MotoGP
Aleix Espargaro, Team Suzuki MotoGP
Aleix Espargaro, Team Suzuki MotoGP
Andrea Iannone, Ducati Team
Andrea Iannone, Ducati Team
Eugene Laverty, Aspar MotoGP Team crash
Danilo Petrucci, Pramac Racing
Loris Baz, Avintia Racing
Hector Barbera, Avintia Racing
Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team

1. Yamaha comes back down to Earth

It's clear that the Japanese manufacturer is still ahead of the rest, although the superiority it showed in the first pre-season test at Sepang was much larger than its advantage at Phillip Island, a very peculiar circuit due to its very fast corners.

Lorenzo and Rossi, for their part, chose to focus on the hybrid M1, which uses a chassis that's identical to last year's, and ruled out the new bike completely.

2. Rossi is still on form

In Malaysia, Lorenzo proved to be a step, or two, ahead of Rossi, who could not match the Spaniard at any point in the three-day test. At Phillip Island, however, the Italian admitted he was feeling much better, something that was reflected in the timesheets.

Rossi was competitive both over a single lap as well as over a race distance. "If there was a race now, I think I could fight to win it," he said on Tuesday, the most productive day for all.

3. Honda lived an illusion

Both Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa left Australia with mixed feelings. On the one hand, Honda worked very hard, especially on the electronics side. Nevertheless, the Japanese team believes the progress was down to the nature of the circuit.

"This track is very special and we knew we'd do well here," said Marquez on Friday. The main problems with the RC213V come under acceleration in short gears and that will penalise the team very much in the next test in Qatar.

4. Vinales is on fire

With a year of experience under his belt, Maverick Vinales has proven to be one of the top riders of the pre-season. The Spaniard, who left the circuit with the best time over the course of the three days (1m29.131s), appears delighted with the new GSX-RR.

Unlike his teammate Aleix Espargaro, who is struggling to set competitive times, Vinales is finding it easy to ride on the limit with the bike.

5. Steady progress for Suzuki

Based on what its riders say, Suzuki has produced a significantly better prototype than in 2015. The new engine provides more power and the engineers are making progress with the electronics.

Regarding the chassis, both riders admitted they are still slightly more comfortable with the old one, but they also feel the 2016 version has a lot of potential. "We have tested plenty of things with it that will be useful during the season," said Vinales on the final day of running.

6. Ducati going at its own pace

One of the harder things to analyse so far with the information available is Ducati's form. The Italian squad is still developing the new Desmosedici GP, but it's doing so slower than Honda and much slower than Yamaha.

We'll have to see how Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso do in Qatar next week. Casey Stoner is also scheduled to test the bike on 6-7 March, once the official test ends.

7. Michelin slips up

All the praise that Michelin got at Sepang turned into criticism two weeks later. The new front tyre compound that the French manufacturer took to Australia was not enjoyed by nearly anyone, and most of the riders complained about a lack of grip.

On Friday there were 13 crashes, most of them when the temperatures dropped. "What happened with the tyres is not normal," complained Aleix Espargaro.

"You have to very careful because the feeling this tyre gives you is it has a lack of grip. That is very tiring," added Lorenzo. "In these three tests I have crashed three times, and that's not normal."

8. A blow for Petrucci

The Italian was enjoying a great pre-season before Friday brought upon a crash in which he suffered a triple fracture to his right hand. Petrucci will miss the Qatar test and it is still unclear if he will be able to race there when the season kicks off on March 20.

Petrucci has since had successful surgery on his hand, but Pramac will have to find a replacement for the test next week, and it's likely the man riding the Desmosedici GP15 for the team will be Michele Pirro.

9. The outsiders' moment

The arrival of the new electronics has opened the door for smaller teams to fight for a spot in the top 10, with the Ducati of the Avintia team being a glaring example. Despite being on two-year old bikes, both Hector Barbera and Loris Baz have enjoyed a remarkable pre-season so far.

To them, the new ECU offers a better performance than the one they used before, the opposite of what's happening to the leading teams.

10. Qatar, the definitive test

It will be next Wednesday at Losail when most of the questions still up in the air will start to get answers.

For example, it will be there where we'll see if Honda has made real progress or if it's still lost and without a clear direction: Marquez, for example, is using last year's chassis while all of the other Honda riders are on the new one.

It will also be in Qatar where the majority of the teams will carry out race simulations, the best way to analyse their strengths and weaknesses.

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