Ducati, Aprilia and GASGAS occupy the top three on a rain-affected Saturday in Malaysia
It was a largely rain-affected second day of Official MotoGP™ testing at the Sepang International Circuit with the riders only getting a couple of hours of drying running time under their belts. Overnight rain meant we were greeted with a damp track in the morning, before heavy rain just after midday put any hopes of getting more dry weather testing to one side.
Jorge Martin’s (Prima Pramac Racing) 1:58.736 saw the Spaniard claim top spot honours on Day 2, with Miguel Oliveira’s (RNF MotoGP™ Team) fastest time of the weekend putting him second on Day 2. Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) was third on Saturday and also set his fastest time of the test so far, the Spaniard sits well inside the top 10 heading into the third and final day.
Here’s a rundown of what we saw on track today tech-wise, starting with Ducati after Martin’s table-topping performance.
A damp Day 2 kicks off in Sepang!
Martin didn’t have a completely smooth Saturday though, as a crash at Turn 7 saw the Spaniard take a trip to the medical centre to get his hand strapped up. He was all ok though, and said he hopes to ride in the final Sunday session without any issues. Martin compared aero but said the crash affected whether he can be fully sure of the differences as yet. Both he and teammate Johann Zarco had a new swingarm each to try, with small differences. Zarco was P15 and on the Frenchman’s role, new Pramac Team Manager Gino Borsoi added that Zarco remains on testing duty but the work will be spread little more across other Ducati riders now too.
Reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) was the second Ducati and slotted into fifth, and both his machines sported the updated aero fairing. New teammate Enea Bastianini was also trying aero but seemed to also be focusing on engine specification, ending Saturday in ninth.
Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) was seventh, with Friday’s fastest, his teammate Marco Bezzecchi, a bit further down the order in P12. He also crashed at Turn 5, rider ok. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) was in P14 and his new teammate, Ducati newcomer Alex Marquez, was P17.
The leading RS-GP rider on Day 2 was the aforementioned Oliveira, whose 1:58.839 puts him into the top five overall on the combined standings. What’s more, that lap time is just a tenth off his fastest lap time aboard the KTM at last year’s Sepang Test. Impressive again from the Portuguese star, while RNF MotoGP™ Team teammate Raul Fernandez ended up climbing to P6 on the Saturday timesheets before the afternoon rain fell. Both Oliveira and Raul Fernandez had two 2022-spec Aprilias to work with.
Over in the factory Aprilia Racing ranks, Maverick Viñales tested a small variation of the new aero wings that we’ve seen on the Aprilias this week. The difference is they have a third element underneath them, something that test rider Lorenzo Savadori has been running. Meanwhile, Aleix Espargaro had a complicated day at the office. The number 41 crashed at Turn 12 ahead of lunch before then suffering a technical issue in the final hour of the day.
Pol Espargaro had one bike with a new chassis and was seen using the aero update tested by Binder and Miller in Valencia – plus those downwash ducts to add those to the “ground-effect” side fairings. He was positive about the aero and the top speed trap numbers, saying the running may have been short but it was valuable. He also had a coming together with Bagnaia earlier in the day, going past the reigning Champion and a then heading a little wide, but both riders stayed on and continued with their running after a couple of gesticulations.
2023 rookie Augusto Fernandez continued with the new seat and tail unit, and he was working on testing out parts as well as “simply” settling in.
Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) began the day with Yamaha’s new aero package on both of the bikes that were sat in his garage, while the Frenchman was also running through some of the parts he tested on Day 1 to get another feel for them in the limited dry running that was available on Saturday. Quartararo – who was positive about his day’s work – also tried the downwash ducts that were debuted by test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga on Day 1, and he also clocked a 335.4km/h top speed – the third fastest behind the Ducatis of Bagnaia and Martin. Yamaha have two 2023 engine specifications in Sepang, so a decision needs to be made as to which one gets the nod for the season.
Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) also had Yamaha’s new aero package on two bikes, but the Italian also did some work on the older aero on Day 2 – back-to-back testing the most likely reason for that. Cal Crutchlow joined the fray again after sitting out the opening day of the Official Test, as Quartararo and Morbidelli finished P4 and P11 respectively.
At Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, Jack Miller was first out on track, as he was on Friday, and it was his lap times coming down that proved the conditions by around lunchtime. One of his machines sounded different to pitlane reporter Simon Crafar, a difference he noted yesterday in one of Binder’s machines, so that will be a key area of interest going forward once there’s more dry running. Miller was P19 by the end of play.
Brad Binder, meanwhile, ended the day in P10 and spent much of his time on aero. He was seen on the initial update seen in Valencia and also headed out on the package debuted by test rider Dani Pedrosa on the third day of the Shakedown – as well as downwash ducts on the lower side fairing, also seen on the GASGAS RC16 of Pol Espargaro.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) continued having four RC213Vs sitting in his side of the garage, including HRC’s experimental bike that we debriefed yesterday. His two 2023 development bikes have different chassis from one another, one is the standard 2023 chassis that we’ve seen a lot, while the other is a chassis that we’ve seen Stefan Bradl testing.
Honda newcomers Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team) – who admits he’s more comfortable on the Honda despite a lack of dry action on Day 2 – and Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) both have two 2023 development bikes to play with, with Mir’s bikes having two different chassis – the same as teammate Marquez. Rins, on the other hand, has the same chassis in both of his RC213Vs and had a positive day after climbing into the top 10, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) in the same boat as Marquez and Mir with two different chassis.
The third and final day of the Official Sepang Test is set to be a hectic affair – here’s hoping the weather is kind. As always, stay tuned to motogp.com and our social media channels for all the latest!