MotoGP: Final Pre-Season Test Is This Weekend In Portugal

MotoGP: Final Pre-Season Test Is This Weekend In Portugal

© 2023, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. From a press release issued By Dorna:

#PortimaoTest: the final countdown is on!

It’s the last chance for the field to get race ready, with just two days of testing left between our 22 riders and the 21 Grands Prix that lie ahead

We’ve had the Shakedown, we’ve seen the Sepang Test proper and we’re nearing the end of pre-season as the paddock heads for Portugal. Just two days of track action remain for the field to get in gear for the biggest season ever, with bikes back on track this weekend!

WHEN + WHERE?

The test takes place on the 11th and 12th of March at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal. Normal track action starts at 10:00 local time (GMT) every day and lasts until 18:00. Then, from 18:00 until 18:15, there’s a Practice Start session as there was at Sepang.

HOW CAN I FOLLOW THE ACTION?

As we’ve enjoyed through pre-season, there will be Live Timing on motogp.com throughout the sessions so you can stay on top of who’s where, as well as plenty of other information about their laptimes and different runs. There’ll also be videos and reports throughout the action to make sure you don’t miss a minute.

Then, from 17:30 local time every day until 19:00, After the Flag will be live to provide a host of updates and reports from on the ground. Pitlane reporter Simon Crafar will be joined by Jack Gorst once again, and the show in Barcelona will be anchored by commentators and presenters Louis Suddaby and Neil Morrison. After the Flag will analyse all the action and bring you exclusive interviews with riders and key personnel throughout! And remember, Portugal is in GMT/UTC – not CET!

Check out the FREE TRIAL of VideoPass + TimingPass

DUCATI, VR46, PRAMAC & GRESINI

The Ducati Lenovo Team may have stolen a few of the headlines in terms of novelties, but the times right at the top were whisked away by Mooney V46 Racing Team on two of the three days. Sophomore Marco Bezzecchi was quickest on Day 1, and by the end of Day 3, Luca Marini was quickest overall. That makes it both tests so far that Marini has reigned – having also been quickest in Valencia. The GP22 retains some serious chops.

 

Luca Marini (10). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Luca Marini (10). Photo courtesy Dorna.

That said, Ducati Lenovo Team were very hot Marini’s heels, with reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia second overall. He had new aero on both bikes but had the downwash ducts instead of the “ground-effect” side fairings by the end of the test, whereas new teammate Enea Bastianini had one with the downwash ducts and one with the “ground-effect” lower side fairings. Bastianini also had some ominous words after ending the test fourth overall, saying they were still only at 70-75% of the potential of the new bike.

That new bike, according to Ducati Lenovo Team Manager Davide Tardozzi, will have the details fully defined in Portimão, so we best keep an eye out!

At Prima Pramac Racing, Jorge Martin was especially vocal about the step forward with the 2023 engine, and he was fifth at the end of play – very close to Bastianini. Teammate Johann Zarco spent time on the ground effect lower side fairings at the close of action in Sepang, and he didn’t seem to put in a real fast lap, ending the test in P16. We can likely expect more from Zarco soon enough.

Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), meanwhile, was another fast GP22 as he ended the test 0.019s ahead of Bezzecchi. That’s good news for Diggia as he looks to take a big step forward in 2022, and there was more good news for his new teammate too. Alex Marquez, new to the Ducati, was 0.022s off Bezzecchi in a tightly packed top ten.

 

Maverick Vinales (12). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Maverick Vinales (12). Photo courtesy Dorna.

APRILIA & RNF

The Sepang Test was a positive one for Aprilia Racing’s Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro. Viñales was just over a tenth off Marini’s blistering pace and finished P3 across the three days, while Espargaro walked away with a P6 – but importantly, the vibes were good from the Noale camp. The main story coming into the Portimao Test is the new 2023 engine specification that Team Manager Paolo Bonora confirmed was on the agenda back in Malaysia. Look out for comments on that this weekend.

In Aprilia’s new Independent Team ranks, Raul Fernandez (RNF MotoGP™ Team) said it was the first time he’d enjoyed riding a bike since his 2021 Moto2™ title tilt. The Spaniard cut a cheerful figure in Sepang and finished in a solid P11, less than 0.5s away from Espargaro. RNF teammate and former Portuguese GP race winner, Miguel Oliveira, said he didn’t manage to extract the most potential out of his RS-GP when trying a time attack in Malaysia, hence his P15 in Sepang. Can that issue be rectified in Portimao for the home hero? Time will tell for one of 2023’s dark horses… and Oliveira was already quick in Valencia!

 

Marc Marquez (93). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Marc Marquez (93). Photo courtesy Dorna.

HONDA & LCR

This test is crucial for Honda. As many as four bikes were sat in Marc Marquez’s side of the Repsol Honda Team garage in Sepang – one 2022 bike, two 2023 bikes and a new experimental 2023 bike – as HRC searched for a direction. Team Manager Alberto Puig admitted they “clearly” aren’t where they want to be, but a hugely positive note was Marquez’s fitness. The number 93 says he expects to open the season as fully fit as can be, and raring to race. Meanwhile, new Repsol Honda recruit Joan Mir was pleased with his progress over the three days, but we’ll get the full picture of where HRC lie on Sunday evening.

Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol), similar to Mir, was happy with how his adaptation continued to improve in Malaysia. The duo sang from the same hymn sheet when expressing how much they’ve had to change their riding styles after their switch from Suzuki, while the experienced Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) rallied on with testing duties as he also comes back from some injury struggles.

 

Brad Binder (33). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Brad Binder (33). Photo courtesy Dorna.

KTM & GASGAS TECH3

One thing of note at Sepang was a different engine noise overheard from both Red Bull KTM Factory Racing machines of Brad Binder and Jack Miller, as well as the GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 RC16 of Pol Espargaro. Will Portimao reveal more?

Espargaro ended the test as top RC16 just a smidge ahead of Binder, with Miller a little further back. Binder was on the aero update we first saw at the Shakedown, with Miller on the Valencia aero update. The South African was on lead as Miller focused on settling in and playing with geometry. It seems there’s plenty still to be decided for the Austrian factory.

Rookie Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3), meanwhile, seemed to be out on a new chassis and taking on more testing duty… what will we see from him in Portugal?

 

Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo courtesy Dorna.

YAMAHA

On one hand, the Sepang Test seemed a roaring success for Yamaha. On the other, serious worries arose. The good news for Fabio Quartararo and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™ teammate Franco Morbidelli is the 2023 engine possesses those extra few horses they’ve been craving for some time. The top speed charts made for great reading for the Iwata factory.

The bad news? Seemingly, their soft tyre performance. Quartararo branded their pace on new tyres a “disaster” when going for a time attack in Malaysia, so that’s something that needs to be fixed in Portimao. Yamaha, Quartararo and Morbidelli will be hoping Sepang’s P17 and P20 aren’t where they’re sitting come Sunday evening after another two crucial days.

More MotoGP™ than ever: this is 2023!

21 Grands Prix, 18 countries & the MotoGP™ Sprint: a calendar and schedule reminder ICYMI

We’re on the verge of an action-packed, blockbuster season. More race weekends than ever, two new destinations, and the debut of the MotoGP™ Sprint across the calendar mean we’re in for quite a ride in 2023!

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