Location: Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
Date: 1st February to 3rd february 2016
Before any MotoGP season kicks off in anger there are a series of testing sessions that take place at set times that allow riders to give their new machines a shake-down, allows new riders to get up to speed with new teams, and generally allows fine tuning and other testing to take place.
The ‘Winter test’ session that usually takes place around February is regulary held in Malaysia at the Sepang circuit, where it isn’t anything like winter at all with its stifling heat, palm trees, and tropical humidity.
Valentino Rossi usually makes the Winter testing sessions a bit more by revealing a new one-off helmet design, usually these are something amusing and fun. In 2015 Rossi decided to poke fun at the concept of a Winter test in tropical heat by having a helmet design that was made to look like a woolly hat. To hammer home his point he also had his team wear actual woolly hats with the same design
Valentino stuck with the idea of lampooning the winter test for 2016 and he revealed a new winter themed helmet design for the test sessions.
This time it featured a large smiling snowman, positioned directly on the top of the helmet. The snowman is pictured wearing a yellow hat and a yellow scarf which feature Yamaha’s ‘tuning forks’ logo on them. Valentino also had a similar hat and scarf made for the sessions which he posed in for photographers.
The rest of the helmet was covered in snowflakes, with a huge yellow number 46 positioned at the back of the helmet. Valentino’s mechanic Alex Briggs shared more images and comments on the helmet via Twitter:
We are sweating it out here in Sepang and the Rider has a snowman on his skid lid for "winter testing! 😅 pic.twitter.com/xHUxAtSwwZ
— Alex Briggs (@Alex__Briggs) February 1, 2016
Image gallery of Valentino Rossi’s Snowman Winter test helmet from Sepang:
This helmet design caused quite a reaction, so don’t surprised if AGV end up releaseing it later in the year as a replica in the Pista or Corsa range.
The Sepang test was also notable as all riders and teams were now required to run Michelin tires (Michelin had replaced Bridgestone as the single tire supplier for MotoGP) as well as a new Electronics unit.
Valentino Rossi said:
“I’m happy about the test and about today because, first of all, we did a good job and tried a lot of different stuff that gave some good information on how to improve the bike. I also set a 2’00.5s, I think we can work on it and do better, but I’m in second place so that’s not so bad, it was a good test. We still have to work a lot, the question mark that remains is if we go with the bike that’s more like the 2015 or the 2016 model. We will try them another time in Phillip Island, because the new one was not so bad at the end. I think all the engineers did a good job with the electronics and Michelin did a good job with the front tyres. We tried other tyres that also improved more, so I feel good about the first test. I tried the winglets, they are very interesting, they change the airflow, but I don’t feel a difference. I prefer the bike without the wings, it’s more beautiful!”
Image Gallery from the Sepang 2016 Winter test: