Last year’s runner-up wasted no time getting up to speed, posting the only 1:57 of the day to be a quarter of a second clear.
Prima Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin quickly left behind the pain of Valencia last year by taking the opening honours of 2024 on Day 1 of the Sepang Test. The Spaniard fired in an impressive 1:57.951 after only two hours of running this morning, which is only half a second adrift of the fastest-ever Sepang lap, and was untouched for the remainder of the day.
Red Bull GASGAS Tech3’s Pedro Acosta continued to impress too, as the rookie all-but matched his best lap from the Sepang Shakedown to take second overall. Only 0.008 of a second behind the Moto2™ World Champion was Fabio Quartararo in third. The factory Yamaha man finished the opening day just two tenths adrift of his best lap from the 2023 Malaysian Grand Prix – promising signs for the struggling Japanese giant.
It was a tough day for what many believe to be Martin’s principle title rivals in 2024: World Champion Pecco Bagnaia and Marc Marquez. The Lenovo Ducati man crashed out at Turn 11 on his very first lap of the day, whilst Marquez had to contend with two technical issues. The #1 ended up 16th and Marquez found a late lap to finish ninth.
Ducati Lenovo Team, Prima Pramac Racing, Pertamina Enduro VR46 & Gresini Racing
Seven of Ducati’s eight full-time riders hit the track today as Franco Morbidelli (Prima Pramac Racing) continues his recovery from a training crash at Portimao. And six of those seven occupied 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.
Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing’s Fabio Di Giannatonio closed out the opening day in fourth, with new 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.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing & 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. Nobody did more laps today than Miller, who totalled a dizzying 69. The Austrian factory focussed their attentions on electronics and a new exhaust system, as well as some aerodynamic and engine updates.
Aprilia & Trackhouse Racing
After not bringing much 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.
Raul Fernandez (Trackhouse Racing) only managed 21 laps today after a monster highside inside the opening 15 minutes of the day saw him in considerable pain. The Spaniard will head to a local hospital tonight for further checks.
Monster Energy Yamaha
After struggling all year with one-lap qualifying pace, Yamaha will be pleased to see Quartararo sitting third on the timesheets and Alex Rins just outside the top ten in 11th. The Iwata factory’s main focus on the opening day has been aero, as well as fine-tuning their new and improved engine. There was also a new tail unit in use.
Repsol and LCR Honda
A lot was 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 (LCR Honda CASTROL) claiming the final spot inside the top ten. – www.motogp.com