Luca Marini made an impressive MotoGP debut on Friday as preparation for the 201 Qatar GP got fully underway.
The Sky VR46 Avintia rider closed the two free practice sessions 17th in the combined standings having worked on both riding position and settings of his Desmosedici.
Signing off on Friday with a best time of 1’54.432, a significant step forward compared to last weekend’s test, the Ducati rider is confident of further progress as the weekend unfolds.
“I am happy with the work done and the updates in terms of ergonomics that Ducati has brought me” Marini commented at the close of FP2. “I am more comfortable on the bike and this is also very important for managing the entire race distance. We made some changes to the set up and we also improved the lap time. I have mostly been on track alone, but tomorrow I will try to follow someone.”
Describing the feeling of heading out for his first official session in the premier class, the Italian admitted “I was quite excited. It was more emotional, compared to the test because with the standard practice, you start at the green lights with everybody. In the first laps I was with a lot of riders and it was strange because in the test I was more or less every time alone. So this feeling was great.
“I now understand that in the practice in a standard GP, the level of the intensity, and also the speed that you have to do. You have to have this speed during your lap much more, compared to a normal test. In the test you have much more time to go to the garage, you can take off your helmet, you can breathe a little bit more, relax and then restart another time.
“With 45 minutes, you have to prepare at 100% for all that time, and it’s totally different. Also comparing to Moto2, the effort, the strength that you have to use during a practice is much more. So, it’s difficult, but a very good emotion, good feelings, and in FP2, I was more comfortable with this, it was already much easier. Also because the track temperature and the air temperature were better, this afternoon this was really, really high.”
Despite being a rookie, Ducati is already on hand for the Italian, with support and additional parts, as Marini explained further. “We tried a new seat and also a new shape of the tank cover, which was good, so I’m very happy about this support from Ducati. I didn’t expect this sincerely, but they are really, really nice with all of the three rookies. I’m happy to feel the support from them. It’s great for us and for me, I hope that we can continue in this direction and having maybe something more also during the season.
“I don’t look at the data until now so I don’t know which corners I lose more but looking at the papers it looks like turns two and three, I have to reduce my gap to the top. Fortunately, the two factory Ducati’s are already in the top of the standings. So, also for me is good to see the fastest guys of today in the data so I can learn a lot and we can check also the settings, everything is easier for me. Tonight we will spend a lot of time trying to understand in which area we have to improve, but in general with the bike I felt much more comfortable today compared to the test.”