More, from a press release issued by Dorna:
#SepangTest: Rivalries renewed as Bagnaia heads Martin on blistering final day
The 1:56 club is born as the reigning World Champion lays down the gauntlet and the pace hots up
Thursday, 08 February 2024
Ducati Lenovo Team’s Francesco Bagnaia claimed the bragging rights on the final day of the Sepang Test, and in some style too, obliterating the outright lap record. The reigning World Champion fired in a 1:56.682 during a blistering opening hour of action to better 2023 rival Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), as last year’s gripping rivalry was renewed early in 2024.
Having finished fastest yesterday, Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) was forced to settle for third but once again proved he’s back to his best – something his team boss, Davide Tardozzi, also wanted to stress. Fourth and the final rider to have broken new ground by posting a 1:56.938 was Gresini Racing’s Alex Marquez.
Ducati Lenovo, Prima Pramac, Pertamina Enduro VR46 & Gresini
There were yet more reasons to smile down at Ducati with their three 2024 machines occupying the top three places, and six of their seven full-time riders sitting in the top eight.
Marc Marquez threw some soft rubber at his Gresini Racing machine on Thursday and he closed out the test within touching distance of the top spots. A 1:57.270 sees the #93 just over half a second behind Bagnaia, but Marquez was still concentrating on “laps, laps, laps” to get to know the bike.
Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team’s Fabio Di Giannantonio was eighth over one lap, but his pace was nothing short of phenomenal. Nine riders did Sprint simulations today and Diggia was the fastest of the lot, ahead of Bastianini and Martin. In terms of the simulations, fifth of the nine Ducati riders, and only a couple of seconds away, came Marc Marquez.
Meanwhile, Marco Bezzecchi has had some struggles in Sepang. A third crash in three days wasn’t ideal as he was just unable to improve on his lap from yesterday and, as a result, finished 15th on the combined standings. But it’s testing yet… and the Rins Cup rolls on to Qatar!
Aprilia & Trackhouse Racing
There were headlines made off-track on Thursday morning with a new signing for the Trackhouse Racing squad – and it’s a familiar face as Davide Brivio returns to the paddock to take the reigns at the American team.
Still, it was another day of two halves for Aprilia. On one side, Aleix Espargaro hailed it “the best test” he’s ever had with the Noale factory, and you can understand why. The #41 claimed the final spot inside the top after punching in a 1:57.091, and his pace wasn’t bad either. He was fourth of the Sprint simulations and only a second away from 2023’s Sprint King, Martin.
Meanwhile on the other side, after complaining of a lack of rear grip yesterday, no many in-roads were made today. Maverick Viñales closed out the three days in 12th and is looking for more, whilst Miguel Oliveira (Trackhouse Racing) was 18th. Still, there are two days left in Qatar.
Red Bull KTM & Red Bull GASGAS Tech3
Another day were all of the headlines coming out of the Austrian camp and down to the remarkable efforts of Pedro Acosta. Although Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) finished ahead of him on the combined standings, Acosta closed the gap down to just 0.058 seconds to the orange army’s star man.
The rookie’s Sprint simulation is also worthy of a mention. Faster over 9 laps than Bagnaia and less than a second adrift of the incredibly experienced Marc Marquez and Aleix Espargaro. A reminder: today was just day seven on a MotoGP™ machine.
Aussie Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) rounds out the three days 1.1 seconds adrift of top spot in 14th, whilst there’s work to do for Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) who finished 21st and over two seconds behind.
Repsol Honda & CASTROL/IDEMITSU Honda LCR
Repsol Honda’s Joan Mir closed out the Sepang Test inside the top ten after going under the pole position lap from last year – positive signs for the Japanese factory. But despite Mir’s 1.1 second improvement over one lap, he wanted to stress the need for further work over a longer distance. Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda LCR) fired in a 1:57.765 to end 13th, ahead of Johann Zarco and Luca Marini in 17th and 19th, but Marini was also confident of more to come in the Qatar Test.
Monster Energy Yamaha
There are clear signs of progress at Yamaha too, but one search remains: that of one-lap pace. It’s something already mentioned on Day 2 and the mission continued, and will continue in Qatar.
On the timesheets, Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) was 11th, hoping for a further step next time out in Qatar, and Alex Rins was 16th and 1.1 seconds away from Bagnaia’s record-breaking lap.
That’s official a wrap on the Sepang Test! Make sure you join us on motogp.com to debrief all the action, and then we’re on the road to Lusail International Circuit in Qatar for two more days of testing in a week and a half. Join us then for more!