Ducati’s trio of rookies certainly made waves in the desert yesterday as Jorge Martin, Luca Marini and Moto2 champion Enea Bastianini took to the track for the first time.
Pramac’s Martin unfortunately concluded his first day on a MotoGP machine in the gravel after a highside at turn-three but remains happy and impressed with his debut so far.
With an hour to go, the young Spaniard lost control of his Desmosedici and was seen discussing the incident with Honda’s Stefan Bradl, explaining “I touch the kerb on the inside and highside but I’m okay.”
“For sure, not the best way to finish my first day on a MotoGP bike. It was a strange crash because I was almost straight and I touch a bump and the bike started shaking and I couldn’t stop and finally crashed. Luckily I’m okay because it was super fast, the bike not that much.
“It’s a pity but I think the work we did today was great. We were making solid steps forward from the beginning and we are improving. The first day was not so bad, I think we are not far away from Pirro, the test rider, so happy with the work and onto tomorrow.
“It was a great experience, the first laps. I just tried to get in a great position but anyway the power was crazy, it never ends. You can ask for more and it always comes, the power. We need to work a lot on the electronics, on the style, on everything but we have a lot of margin and we can work, so really happy.
"Also, with the team, the first contact was great, I feel really good here in Pramac Racing. Looking forward to tomorrow, with the big guys. I will try to learn as much as I can from all the guys when the pass me.
“I think the gearbox was the most impressive thing because, the power is a lot but I expect this already but the gearbox is quite impressive because you change gear and it seems like nothing happens, you’re just, like the same gear, so you’re really happy and I’m looking forward for tomorrow.”
Watching himself on screen for the first time, fellow Ducati rookie Marini was a little more critical of his early performance.
“For now I’m not happy for the style but I have to work a little bit on it. I don’t know which laps were the ones we saw on tv so maybe later was better? I hope!
“I’m trying to feel more comfortable on the bike, we try to do some adjust on the tank, on the seat, on the handlebar to be a little bit more comfortable because also, the bike is big but maybe the Ducati is made for little bit less tall guys, I think? So now I work a little bit on this, tomorrow a little bit more for feeling a little bit better and make my riding a little bit easier.
Alongside the height disadvantage, a few technical issues also plagued the Italian on his opening day with the Sky Avintia team, with the hole shot device failing to deploy on his second attempt at a practice start. “Yeah, the first time I use it and it works, so the first start was okay but in the second one, I don’t know why the tool doesn’t work, I tried in the other practise start spot but its doesn’t work. Then we go in the garage and we fix it and it works, so tomorrow I will try another time.
“Sincerely I made not so many laps, I don’t know the number but I didn’t try enough in my opinion because we had so many problems with the bike, it was a very tricky day, but it’s the first day. It’s a shakedown, also everybody has to prepare everything and adjust all the details so I hope that tomorrow will be better.
“What an incredible power: I was expecting it, but it was so special the first exit. I did a few good laps, focusing only on my riding style to gain confidence. The braking has surprised me, I’m not completely comfortable because with the carbon disc it’s different and I definitely have to work on my style. I’m not very happy with the lap time, but tomorrow we can make a step. A busy day, but physically I feel fine.”
On the other side of the garage, Marini’s teammate Bastianini, was just as emotive about his first experience of the prototype machinery.
“I wait all the winter for this moment. It has been incredible for me, the power of the bike, it’s a lot! The first lap was a disaster for me but after, step-by-step I source more feeling with the bike and the final two runs were better.
"I have to improve a lot because the work in the box is more, you have more electronics, more power, for the first day, I’m happy. I have only one word - fast! It’s amazing, very, very amazing.
"Stefan today was really fast, also in the pace, but finally with 25-laps of tyre I did ’58 and it’s a good lap time for me for today. We are working a lot and it’s good.
“I am very satisfied, I have had a lot of fun, I expected the bike to be very fast but not so much. I am very surprised by the change of gear and the braking of the bike, I am very happy it has been a very positive experience.
"I can’t wait till tomorrow to ride again. I have needed my time to adapt to the bike as the lines change a lot because I have more power. In short we need to work more on electronics although it is still early.
“Yeah, when you turn to brake, it’s incredible because you can stop 150m at 341kms per hour, incredible. I’m the fastest rider of the day! It’s not bad.”
While team manager Ruben Xaus seemed just as positive about the rookies’ early experience, explaining” “Today was the day of the debut on track for our double Team: Esponsorama Avintia and Sky VR46 Avintia with Enea and Luca. Two very young riders, both rookies, a World Champion and a title contender.
“I’m happy, it was the first time they were able to try the bike, a very powerful MotoGP prototype with lots of details to fix. The track was not perfect, dirty and a really windy day.
"The feelings were positive, however, they have started to know the bike and both managed to stay under the wall of two minutes on the flying lap. Tomorrow there will be many other riders on the track, not just the rookies, and we will have more references.
"Enea and Luca are fast, they have similar mentalities and they want to show their best. We are a small team, but at the same time with a lot of experience on Ducati.”