Sepang MotoGP testing: Quartararo tops all 3 days, Vinales & Marquez crashed

Day 1 Report:
Petronas SRT rider Fabio Quartararo topped the first day of 2020 MotoGP pre-season testing in Malaysia, while his factory Yamaha counterpart Maverick Vinales crashed. Last season’s top rookie Quartararo was the first out on track at Sepang on Friday morning, though it was Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro who set the initial pace in the opening hour.

Espargaro, who took part in the shakedown earlier in the week, guided his radically redesigned RS-GP to a time of 1m59.427s to dip underneath the existing race lap record. The outright lap record of 1m58.303s belongs to Quartararo, who posted that on his way to pole for last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

After two hours, the SRT rider put his 2019-spec M1 top of the pile with a 1m58.945s, which would ultimately go unchallenged. Quartararo will ride the full 2020-spec M1 on Saturday, but will have just one of those at his disposal.

The morning running was briefly halted by a red flag for an incident involving one of the Yamaha test riders, though a greater lull would follow later in the day as a burst of rain kept the track quiet for some time. Another shower late on brought running the day to a premature end with just under 10 minutes to go.

The Pramac Ducati pairing of Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller signalled the resumption of running with just under two hours to go, though Quartararo’s benchmark remained intact. Quartararo’s team-mate Franco Morbidelli trailed him heading into the lunch break by 0.051 seconds, and held onto second place come the chequered flag.

Morbidelli will not have machine parity with Quartararo or the works team Yamaha riders anymore this year, and is instead riding the ‘A-spec’ M1 – essentially, the bike the factory Yamaha riders finished last November’s tests with.

Alex Rins led the Suzuki charge in third spot as he worked through his programme on the new-spec GSX-RR, while LCR’s Cal Crutchlow was top Honda rider in fourth ahead of Miller. Vinales ended the day sixth spot, having crashed earlier in the day at the Turn 11 right-hander.

He, along with team-mate Valentino Rossi – who was 10th fastest – had three M1s at his disposal: two 2020-spec machines, and the ‘A-spec’ bike from November. Early pacesetter Espargaro was seventh ahead of his KTM-mounted brother Pol, who also took part in the shakedown earlier this week.

Joan Mir was ninth on the sister Suzuki, with Rossi rounding out the top 10 ahead of the first of the works team Ducati’s of Andrea Dovizioso.

Reigning world champion Marc Marquez shadowed Dovizioso, as he marks his first MotoGP outing since undergoing surgery on a right shoulder injury in the winter. Admitting ahead of the test he’d only be at “70%” strength, Marquez only completed 37 laps and managed a best time of 1m59.675s.

His brother and new team-mate Alex was just a further 0.021s adrift in 13th, while Johann Zarco was 1.5s off the pace in 19th on his first outing on the Avintia Ducati GP19.

Sepang day one times

Day 2 Report:


Fabio Quartararo led the second day of pre-season MotoGP testing in Malaysia, while reigning world champion Marc Marquez crashed late in the session.

Petronas SRT rider Quartararo was the fastest on Friday aboard the 2019-spec Yamaha, but finally took delivery of the new 2020 M1 and spent most of the day on that. He was once again first out on circuit, though it was Suzuki’s Joan Mir who led the time sheets after the first hour with a 1m58.731s lap ahead of KTM’s Pol Espargaro.

Pramac’s Jack Miller took over from Mir as the session entered its third hour, with the Ducati rider’s 1m58.641s effort remaining the benchmark until the final hour. Miller spent the day evaluating Ducati’s GP20, and also had a revised aerodynamic package to test on Saturday.

The session was paused briefly in the afternoon when Andrea Dovizioso crashed his Ducati, with the Italian unscathed in the off and returning to action soon after. Another high-profile crash followed in the final hour, as Marquez went down at the fast Turn 3 right-hander.

 

 

The elder Marquez brother admitted on Friday his recently-operated-on right shoulder was worse than he expected on the bike, though still managed 47 laps on Saturday before his fall. Soon after, Quartararo shot to the top of the times with a 1m58.572s, which went unchallenged as the chequered flag fell.

Miller remained second, 0.069 seconds adrift, while KTM test rider Dani Pedrosa posted his fastest ever lap of the Sepang circuit with a 1m58.662s to complete the top three. Mir led the sister SRT of Franco Morbidelli, on the ‘A-spec’ Yamaha, with Maverick Vinales sixth on the 2020-spec works team M1. Alex Rins head Pol Espargaro on the second GSX-RR, with Marquez ninth despite his crash and Valentino Rossi rounding out the top 10 on the second works Yamaha.

Aleix Espargaro was 0.652s off the pace in 11th on his Aprilia, with LCR’s Cal Crutchlow and Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci shadowing him. Dovizioso ended up 15th following his accident, while Alex Marquez was the top rookie runner in 17th on the factory Honda, 1.089s off the pace.

Johann Zarco admitted after his first day on the Avintia Ducati that he expected to be faster than he was. Though he found 1.3s on Saturday on the GP19 with a 1m59.825s, he was still 1.2s from top spot down in 19th.

Sepang day two times

Day 3 Report:

 

Fabio Quartararo completed a clean sweep of the Sepang MotoGP pre-season test after topping the third day, while Marc Marquez crashed again. Quartararo took delivery of Yamaha’s 2020-spec YZR-M1 on Saturday, setting the pace immediately, and used the bike to once more end up fastest on Sunday. The Petronas SRT rider guided the bike to a 1m59.787s early in the first hour of running to claim top spot back from Pramac Ducati rider Jack Miller.

Miller would quickly depose Quartararo, though, before Suzuki’s Joan Mir moved to the top of the times with a 1m59.848s after the first 10 minutes.

By the end of the first hours Quartararo had returned to the top of the time sheets with a test-best effort of 1m58.349s, having tussled with LCR’s Cal Crutchlow briefly for supremacy on the timing screens. Quartararo’s lap would go unchallenged as the day wore on, with much of the field ending the session early.

Crutchlow – who said on Saturday that the Honda’s turning woes had worsened – trailed Quartararo by 0.082 seconds, with Alex Rins completing the top three on the first of the Suzuki’s.

 

Pramac’s Francesco Bagnaia was top Ducati runner in fourth, beating his mentor Valentino Rossi by 0.039s in fifth. Yamaha debuted its version of the holeshot device. Both Rossi and fellow works team rider Maverick Vinales had one each, as did test rider Kohta Nozane. The team also trialled some aerodynamic add-ons to the front of the fairing on the M1s of Rossi and Vinales.

Danilo Petrucci was seventh on the first of the works Ducati’s ahead of KTM’s Pol Espargaro, Miller and Espargaro’s Aprilia-mounted brother Aleix. He was able to put in a long run on Sunday on the brand new RS-GP, having expected not to owe to the freshness of the Aprilia’s engine. A 12-lap stint of mid-1m59s showed the promise of the new bike over race distance, though Espargaro was unable to get that far after an exhaust issue cut his run short.

Mir completed the top 10, edging ahead of Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira, while Marquez shadowed him in 12th after suffering his second fall of the test. The Honda rider slid off his bike at the last turn late in the day, but walked away unscathed.

Andrea Dovizioso was a low-key 14th on his works Ducati, though was only 0.5s off the pace on a day when the top 18 were all within a second. He headed Johann Zarco, who found almost a second compared to his Saturday best as he continues to adapt to the Avintia Ducati GP19.

Maverick Vinales spent much of his day comparing both of his 2020-spec M1s and trying race runs, and was 18th at the chequered flag. Yamaha test rider Jorge Lorenzo completed 44 laps on his second day on the bike. He lapped 1.3s off Quartararo’s pace in 20th having spent the entirety of his time on last year’s M1.

Sepang day three times

Testing resumes in Qatar on February 22-24.

Source: MotoGP World Championship
Photocredit: MotoGP World Championship

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