Shaun Muir - Team Principal
We have had a good, solid two days of testing at Jerez. We have made some strong developments since the last test in November, and there is a positive direction going forward. Looking at the lap times in comparative terms we should have been P2-P4 at the end of this two day test on race tyres, so without doubt we have progressed.
Eugene has made big steps on his rear grip that was an issue in 2017, and is in a good position with the bike to continue developing this. Lorenzo has been focusing on long run pace and turn in, and he has gained a lot of data from this test to work with.
There are two more days of testing in Portimao now, and we will use the time to compound what we have learnt in readiness for Phillip Island in February. For sure we are already in a much stronger position than last year. We have several new staff who have integrated quickly, and the team is working very hard together. Overall there is a confidence and positive feeling from both sides of the garage, and we are all pushing to ensure the best possible start to the season.
It's been a very good test overall. Tuesday was frustrating because the lap time was reasonable but the rear grip was bad, and I knew we could improve with more grip. Wednesday was a great day and we achieved a strong lap time, and I'm really happy with how the whole team worked to make the progress. To do a 1'39.876 at the end was a big step forward and we are right in the mix now. There is still work to do, we are in the window but still have more pace to show.
The difference for me has been making the rear tyre push more into the track. Some of the bigger don't struggle so much with that because their weight is an aid, but for me being small it's more difficult. We struggled in 2017 with the rear tyre; not the life of it, we just couldn't use it fully as it didn't push enough. We've overcome that by altering the bike's balance and corner entry, and I'm confident we can get even stronger.
I knew Jerez would be the most important period of pre-season testing because the bike has to be quick here to work. Heading to Portimao, it's a track that I know very well and have learnt a few secrets to find that lap time. This has been a key day for us, we have halved the gap to the top and there's more to come.
It has been a very busy test for me at Jerez, and we have learnt some useful information about the bike. We have tried many setups and different parts, using our experience from last year and working on our plan for 2018.
For me the rhythm on the bike is better and I am quite comfortable with it, and also we have been improving the turn in on corner entry. I would still like to have some more feeling from the bike, but we are not yet at the final setup for the RSV4-RF and have a lot of data to use.
I am looking forward to the next test at Portimao. We have another busy plan to complete and some new things to try, and for me it is important that we prepare all we can to be in the best position for Phillip Island.