The 2023 title challenger sets the benchmark as the rookie continues to shine.
Prima Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin seemed out to lay down a marker on Day 1 of official track action at the Sepang Test, and that he did. The Spaniard fired in an impressive 1:57.951 after only two hours of running on Tuesday morning, which is only half a second adrift of the fastest-ever lap of Sepang. It remained untouched for the remainder of the day.
In hot pursuit came another headline-maker of late: Red Bull GASGAS Tech3’s Pedro Acosta. The rookie all-but matched his best lap from the Shakedown to take second overall, continuing to impress. Only 0.008 of a second behind Acosta comes 2021 Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) in third, finishing the first day of the test only two tenths adrift of his best lap from the 2023 Malaysian Grand Prix – promising early signs as the Japanese factory look to make leaps forward in 2024.
It was a tougher day for two riders likely to be key title rivals in 2024: reigning World Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™). Pecco crashed out at Turn 11 on his very first lap of the day, whilst Marquez had to contend with some small technical issues. The #1 ended up 16th and the #93 found a late lap to finish ninth. Still, it’s Day 1 and their focus remains far from time attacks thus far…
Ducati Lenovo, Prima Pramac, Pertamina Enduro VR46 & Gresini
Seven of Ducati’s eight full-time riders hit the track on Tuesday as Franco Morbidelli (Prima Pramac Racing) continues his recovery from a training crash at Portimao, sitting it out until the first race weekend of the year as a precaution. He was replaced by Michele Pirro.
Ducati occupied seven places in the top ten on a positive opening day for the Bologna factory. For Martin, Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team), work continued on their 2024 engine, which received rave reviews at the Valencia Test in late November. No sign for the moment of the wildly new aerodynamics package that Gigi Dall’Igna teased at their Official Launch, however, only the updated side fairings seen at the Shakedown.
Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing’s Fabio Di Giannatonio closed out the opening day in fourth, with now-teammate Marco Bezzecchi in eighth despite a late crash at Turn 4 with half an hour left on the clock. Gresini Racing’s Alex Marquez was just over half a second adrift in seventh. They’re all focused on adapting to the new-to-them 2023 machine.
Red Bull KTM & Red Bull GASGAS Tech3
As Acosta continued to grab headlines at the sharp end of the timesheets, both Brad Binder and Jack Miller went to work for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing squad, after Dani Pedrosa reportedly did a first run through to wean out the best new parts at the Shakedown. Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) was also out on track for the first time in 2024.
Nobody did more laps on Tuesday than Miller, who totalled a dizzying 69. The Austrian factory focused their attentions on electronics and a new exhaust system, as well as some aerodynamic and engine updates as they look to close that gap to Ducati – a smaller task than anyone else as of the end of 2023.
Aprilia & Trackhouse Racing
After not bringing much outwardly new to the Valencia Test, the Noale squad have been busy over the winter with new aero, engine, swingarms and chassis all on show on Tuesday. Maverick Viñales was fastest of the lot with a 1:58.470 to leave himself sixth on Day 1, with Aleix Espargaro P13 and Trackhouse Racing’s Miguel Oliveira in P15.
Raul Fernandez (Trackhouse Racing) only managed 21 laps in the end after a highside in the opening 15 minutes of the day. He did get back out on track but then headed for further checks at local hospital.
Monster Energy Yamaha
We saw a few updates from Yamaha at the Shakedown, and they will be pleased to see Quartararo sitting third on the timesheets and new recruit Alex Rins just outside the top ten in 11th after Day 1 of the Sepang Test proper. The Iwata factory’s main focus on the opening day was aero, as well as fine-tuning their new and improved engine. There was also a new tail unit in use, and the marque had Cal Crutchlow joining test duty once again.
Repsol Honda & CASTROL/IDEMITSU Honda LCR
There was a lot going on down at HRC on Tuesday. Brand new swingarms, aero, engines and chassis are just the start of a totally revamped RC213V. And the early signs are positive with Johann Zarco (CSATROL Honda LCR) claiming the final spot inside the top ten on the timesheets. For a completely new bike – with Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team) confirming they’d not even brought the 2023 machine to Malaysia – that’s a positive first day. Mir was P14, new teammate Luca Marini P17 and Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda LCR) P20.
That’s a wrap on Day 1! There’s more action on Wednesday and Thursday from 10:00 local time (UTC+8) until 18:00