MotoGP: Bagnaia Quickest On Day One Of Qatar Test

MotoGP: Bagnaia Quickest On Day One Of Qatar Test

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

MotoGP World Champion Francesco Bagnaia left it late in the day to put Ducati’s latest technical innovations to the test, but when he did, he was fastest on Day One of the final pre-season test.

Bagnaia turned a 1:52.040 on the 36th lap of the 51 he put in at Lusail International Circuit, where MotoGP teams are testing before they return for the 2024 season-opening race. Bagnaia’s time was well under the race record of 1:52.978, set last year by factory Ducati rider and teammate Enea Bastianini, but shy of the outright best lap of 1:51.762 set by Luca Marini in qualifying last year.

Last year’s bitter title rival Jorge Martin was again Bagnaia’s closest challenger. Martin did 58 laps with a best of 1:52.260 on his Prima Pramac Ducati, just ahead of Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, whose 1:52.332 edged factory KTM rider Brad Binder by 0.004 second.

MotoGP rookie Pedro Acosta continued his steady progression, finishing the test 15th, 0.898 seconds off of Bagnaia’s time. The American-based Trackhouse Racing team continued to come to terms with their new satellite Aprilia RS-GP machines, a 2024-spec for Miguel Oliveira and a 2023-spec for Raul Fernandez. Fernandez will race the 2023 bike until a second factory specification machine is available for him. 

 

Jorge Martin Qatar Day One
Jorge Martin (89) continued his pursuit of Francesco Bagnaia, turning the second-fastest lap on Day One of the final MotoGP pre-season test. Photo by Michael Gougis.

 

Pedro Acosta Qatar Day One
Moto2 World Champion Pedro Acosta (31) continued his adaptation to his Red Bull GASGAS Tech3 MotoGP machine, finishing less than nine-tenths of a second off the best time on Day One of the test at Qatar. Photo by Michael Gougis.

 

Miguel Oliveira Qatar Day One
Trackhouse Racing’s Miguel Oliveira (88) struggled on the first day at Qatar, finishing 21st. Photo by Michael Gougis.

 

Raul Fernandez Qatar Day One.
Trackhouse Racing’s Raul Fernandez (25) was 12th quickest on his 2023 Aprilia RS-GP at Qatar. Photo by Michael Gougis.

 

Classification

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

#QatarTest: Bagnaia heads Martin as Aprilia and KTM close in

The rivalry continues but the competition is on the chase on Day 1 in the desert

Monday, 19 February 2024

After Day 1 of action in the desert, it’s a familiar name on top: Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team). But the reigning Champion was closely trailed by his key 2023 rival Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), just 0.220s adrift, and they had some closer company in Qatar. Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro kept pace with the GP24s once again for P3, with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder close on the chase in fourth.

The day started a little dusty and windy, but once the sun began to set, we saw a flurry of time attacks come in. Bagnaia led the charge, though he still has a ways to go if he wants to reach the all-time lap record 1:51:762 set by Luca Marini during the 2023 Qatar GP.

Ducati Lenovo, Prima Pramac, Pertamina Enduro VR46 & Gresini

Ducati’s momentum from Sepang seems unabated, with a focused testing regime centered on refining the new engine and evaluating different fairings and exhaust setups. Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) both left it late until they went out on the full-spec 2024 machine, and found immediate improvements in their one lap pace.

Fabio Di Giannantonio’s (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team) hugely encouraging pre-season continues as he took P5 to help back up his Sepang performance, while Marco Bezzecchi (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team) finds himself outside the top 10 on Day 1. At Gresini Racing, Alex Marquez claimed seventh on the timesheets with Marc Marquez in P16. However, the eight-time World Champion recorded 58 laps on Monday, meaning he has now clocked over 280 laps aboard the Desmosedici without crashing.

Aprilia & Trackhouse Racing

Sporting their sleek 2024 livery, Aprilia can certainly be encouraged by their performances on Day 1. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) spent a large portion of the day in P1 before slipping to sixth, while Aleix Espargaro surged up to that P3.

At one stage, three RS-GPs occupied the top three places on the timesheets, with Raul Fernandez (Trackhouse Racing) putting in a brilliant effort to join his factory counterparts at the business end of proceedings before ending the day 12th. Teammate Miguel Oliveira, meanwhile, was further down the order as the Noale factory continue working towards 2024.

Red Bull KTM & Red Bull GASGAS Tech3

There’s plenty of encouragement on the timesheets for the RC16s once again, with Brad Binder taking fourth just thousandths off Espargaro ahead. Meanwhile, the good reading continued as Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and rookie Pedro Acosta (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) both in the 1:52s, while the latter spun the most laps of anyone with 73. Augusto Fernandez’ (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) pre-season frustrations continued on Day 1 though, with the 2022 Moto2™ World Champion placing P20 while also suffering a crash in addition to some technical issues earlier in the day.

From a testing perspective too, the Austrian machinery was quite busy with two new specs of engine plus a range of different aero set ups on the programme.

Repsol Honda & Castrol/Idemitsu Honda LCR

There are plenty of reasons to smile if you’re a Honda fan, as it seems that progress seen in Sepang has kept rolling at Lusail. Johann Zarco (Castrol LCR Honda) was the top Honda rider in P9, and he did his time attack on the new aero they brought to Qatar. Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team) was next Honda, a couple of tenths in further arrears, before Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda LCR) and then Luca Marini (Repsol Honda Team), the latter of whom was feeling under the weather on Day 1. It seems the Japanese brand have settled on their new engine though, while all four riders used the new swingarm seen in Sepang.

Monster Energy Yamaha

Having claimed an opening day top 10, Tuesday will be an intense day according to Fabio Quartararo as the Yamaha star looks to find a way to make the M1 smoother and improve their grip on time attacks. That is the major issue facing the Iwata factory, and the 2021 World Champion believes they still have a lot of work to do to achieve that next step. New teammate Alex Rins was a little further down the order, but the all hands on deck continues for the Iwata marque with test rider Cal Crutchlow still putting in the laps too. 

That’s it from Day 1! Tuesday sees MotoGP™ back on track in Qatar, with more track action from 14:00 to 21:00 (UTC + 3) – followed by a 15-minute practice start session. So join us on motogp.com, across social media and then live from Lusail for the last session of pre-season!

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