Five riders all went under the outright lap record as the pace heated up in Malaysia.
Ducati Lenovo Team’s Enea Bastianini produced late brilliance on Day 2 of the Sepang Test, claiming top spot thanks to a new, unofficial, outright lap record. Five riders all bettered Pecco Bagnaia’s pole position lap from late last year, with The Beast firing in a historic 1:57.134 to once again prove that Malaysia is very much his territory of late.
Prima Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin had to settle for second in the end after leading the pack for the vast majority of the day. The Spaniard finishing 0.139 seconds adrift of the 2023 Malaysian Grand Prix winner. KTM and Aprilia were hot on the heels of the Ducati duo, with Brad Binder and Aleix Espargaro rounding out the second day in third and fourth.
After an under-the-radar opening day in Sepang, the World Champion joined the party today. Bagnaia claimed the final spot inside the top five with a 1:57.469, leaving him just over three tenths behind his teammate.
Ducati Lenovo Team, Prima Pramac Racing, Pertamina Enduro VR46 & Gresini Racing
The riders piloting Ducati’s latest-spec 2024 machine this season all found themselves under the lap record on Wednesday, with all three laps being done with the Bologna factory’s much-improved new engine. The bulk of Bagnaia, Bastianini and Martin’s work was instead focussed on aerodynamics, with a united consensus yet to be reached.
Another late crash for Marco Bezzecchi will have put a downer on what was otherwise another positive day for The Doctor’s squad. The #72 rounded out Day 2 in ninth place, whilst Fabio Di Giannantonio continued to impress. The Italian was one the form men in the second half of 2023, and he’s carried that momentum into 2024 despite the team switch.
Nobody did more laps than Gresini Racing’s Marc Marquez, as he looked to make up for lost time yesterday. The eight-time World Champion clocked 72 in total, 10 of which were an impressive Tissot Sprint simulation alongside his brother. The #93 was just over 2 seconds quicker than the Sprint-winning time, whilst Alex Marquez was a further two seconds quicker again.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing & Red Bull GASGAS Tech3
Pedro Acosta found yet another step forward today, posting a 1:57.726 – a lap good enough for the middle of the second row of the grid in 2023. Big smiles for his side of the box but not on the other side, with Augusto Fernandez frustrated at his lack of progress. The Mallorcan finished 1.7 seconds adrift in 20th.
On the orange side, Jack Miller joined Brad Binder in working their way through KTM’s various aerodynamic upgrades. The Australian finished 15th.
Aprilia & Trackhouse Racing
Contrasting emotions in the factory Aprilia box with Espargaro taking an impressive foirth, whilst Maverick Viñales was struggling with rear grip and, as a result, didn’t feel comfortable enough to push for a time attack. The Spaniard was 18th today, one place and one tenth ahead of a similarly frustrated Miguel Oliveira.
The trio lapped together in the midday sun in order to try and find some answers to the heat issues that plagued Aprilia’s second half of 2023.
Monster Energy Yamaha
Electronics was the key focus for Yamaha, but Fabio Quartararo was left frustrated. The Frenchman managed to improve on his best lap from last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix but he was still three quarters of a second adrift of top spot and bemoaned his lack of pace during his time attacks. The 2021 World Champion could only manage 11th today, with his new teammate a quarter of a second further back in 13th.
Repsol and LCR Honda
Repsol Honda’s Luca Marini and Idemitsu LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami put together the longest runs of anyone, 13 consecutive laps apiece. 10 of Marini’s laps were in the 1:59s, compared to only two 1:59s between all four Honda riders in last year’s Sprint and Grand Prix.
Joan Mir was able to put in a headline laptime, taking the final spot in top ten. The 2020 World Champion was six tenths quicker than his Q1 performance last year, but reiterated that a lot of work is still to be done and that Honda are nowhere near ready to challenge at the top right now. – www.motogp.com