MotoGP: Bagnaia Ends Qatar Test With New Lap Record

MotoGP: Bagnaia Ends Qatar Test With New Lap Record

© 2024, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By Michael Gougis.

Defending MotoGP World Champion Francesco Bagnaia shattered the lap record in Qatar, the only rider in the 1:50 range as he led a factory Ducati 1-2 on the second and last day of the final pre-season test.

Bagnaia’s 1:50.952 was 0.120 seconds faster than Lenovo Ducati teammate Enea Bastianini, and ominously for the rest of the field, the 2024 version of the Desmosedici already seems faster than the fully-sorted and Championship-winning 2023 machine. Bagnaia was more than eight-tenths of a second clear of the 1:51.762 set last year by Luca Marini.

Most of the field had gone through the new parts and features by the end of Monday, leaving Tuesday free for refining the setup on the bike configuration they had chosen for the first race of the year, also at Lusail International Circuit. Times were dramatically quicker than during last year’s race weekend, with the top 11 going faster than the previous outright best lap.

Italian machines dominated the top of the time sheet, with factory Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro third, 0.308 seconds down. “We were flying,” Espargaro said. “It is the best bike I have ever had.” Eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez spent the first day of the test talking down his chances, saying he still was learning to ride the 2023 Gresini Ducati he is set to campaign this season after years on the Honda RC213V. Then he went out on the second day and set the fourth-fastest time, 0.383 seconds from the top on a track he says is not one of his best. Marquez’s test ended with a crash in Turn Four, which left him uninjured. “It was time to increase the risk,” he said.

Fifth went to Trackhouse Racing’s Raul Fernandez, still not at 100 percent after his injury in a crash at the prior test in Malaysia and riding a 2023 version of the Aprilia RS-GP. The American-based team’s 2024 machine is in the hands of Miguel Oliveira, who struggled most of the test but recovered to 12th on the final day of testing.

Sixth went to the factory Aprilia of Maverick Vinales, just ahead of Jorge Martin on the Prima Pramac Ducati. Last year’s title runner-up finisher, Martin complained of a vibration with his machine and could not match the speed of Bagnaia and Bastianini, finishing 0.514 seconds off the pace.

The best non-Italian motorcycle was the factory KTM of Brad Binder, who finished the test ninth and just ahead of Marco Bezzecchi.

Practice for the season-opening Qatar Airways Grand Prix of Qatar is set for March 8.

Bastianini Qatar 2
Enea Bastianini (23) was second-quickest and suggested that there was more performance to come from the factory Desmosedici GP24. Photo by Michael Gougis.

Aleix Qatar 2
Aleix Espargaro (41) called his 2024 Aprilia RS-GP the best racebike he’s ever had. Photo by Michael Gougis.

Marc Qatar 2
Marc Marquez (93) said it was time to up the risk factor, crashed but still finished fourth. Photo by Michael Gougis.

Raul Qatar 2
Raul Fernandez (25) took his 2023 Trackhouse Racing Aprilia to fifth overall. Photo by Michael Gougis.

Classification - Tuesday

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