The 2020 MotoGP World Championship pre-season got underway this week with a three-day shakedown test February 2-4 at Sepang International Circuit, in Malaysia, and Red Bull KTM’s Pol Espargaro posted the quickest lap time of test.
Riding his KTM RC16, Espargaro lapped the 3.4-mile circuit in 1:59.444 on Tuesday. Not only was that fastest enough to lead all riders, it was significantly faster than the Spaniard went during qualifying for the 2019 Malaysian Grand Prix, 1:59.812, and under Valentino Rossi’s race lap record, 1:59.661.
Pol’s older brother Aleix Espargaro ended up second-best in unofficial lap times with a 1:59.622 on his new, 2020-spec Aprilia RS-GP. Afterward, he tweeted “After the shakedown and 25 laps w/ the RSGP2020, the only thing I can say is: WOW!!!!! Thanks @ApriliaOfficial for the hard job of this last 6 months! Will be a fun year!”
Red Bull KTM Tech 3 rider Miguel Oliveira was third on the unofficial time sheets with a 1:59.748.
When it first started, the shakedown test was only open to test riders representing teams and manufacturers in the Championship to “shakedown” their new racebikes before handing them over to the factory racers for their work, but in light of more restrictive testing regulations coming online in 2020, the rules have been changed to allow rookies in the MotoGP class to take advantage of the track time during the shakedown test at Sepang.
The Espargaro brothers and Oliveira were allowed to participate in the test because Aprilia and KTM are eligible for special concessions, like the extra testing time, because of their relative lack of success in MotoGP, so far.
The quickest of the test riders was KTM’s Dani Pedrosa, who did a 1:59.841 on Day Two, before shutting down for the third day of the event.
Ducati tester Michele Pirro was right behind Pedrosa in the order with a 1:59.922 on a Desmosedici GP20.
Red Bull KTM rookie Brad Binder came next with the South African doing a 2:00.099.
Marc Marquez’s younger brother and new teammate Alex Marquez recorded a seventh-best 2:00.270 on his RC213V on Day Two before jetting off to attend the Repsol Honda team introduction Tuesday in Indonesia.
Mika Kallio took over KTM’s testing duties from Pedrosa on Day Three and turned a 2:00.472.
Recently retired five-time World Champion Jorge Lorenzo did a 2:00.506 during his first outing as an official test rider for Yamaha. That lap time put him 10th on the unofficial time sheets.
Aleix Espargaro’s Aprilia teammate Andrea Iannone did not ride during the shakedown test and will not participate in the official MotoGP test at Sepang February 7-9. The Italian’s provisional suspension for failing an anti-doping test remained in place following an International Disciplinary Court (CDI) hearing Tuesday, and Iannone will remained suspended from testing and competition until the CDI makes its ruling. Aprilia recruited Lorenzo Savadori to test in place of Iannone at Sepang.
MotoGP World Championship
Sepang International Circuit
February 2-4, 2020
Unofficial Combined Lap Times (all on Michelin tires):
- Pol Espargaro, Spain (KTM), 1:59.444, Day 3
- Aleix Espargaro, Spain (Aprilia), 1:59.622, Day 3
- Miguel Oliveira, Portugal (KTM), 1:59.748, Day 3
- Dani Pedrosa, Spain (KTM), 1:59.841, Day 2
- Michele Pirro, Italy (Ducati), 1:59.922, Day 3
- Brad Binder, South Africa (KTM), 2:00.099, Day 3
- Alex Marquez, Spain (Honda), 2:00.270, Day 2
- Stefan Bradl, Germany (Honda), 2:00.441, Day 3
- Mika Kallio, Finland (KTM), 2:00.472, Day 3
- Jorge Lorenzo, Spain (Yamaha), 2:00.506, Day 3
- Sylvain Guintoli, France (Suzuki), 2:00.655, Day 3
- Bradley Smith, UK (Aprilia), 2:01.460, Day 2
- Iker Lecuona, Spain (KTM), 2:01.659, Day 3
- Lorenzo Savadori, Italy (Aprilia), 2:02.795, Day 3