Quartararo tops first day of Sepang MotoGP test

Petronas SRT rider Fabio Quartararo topped the first day of pre-season testing in Malaysia ahead of the 2020 MotoGP season, while Yamaha stablemate Maverick Vinales crashed.

Last season’s top rookie Quartararo was the first out on track at the Sepang International Circuit on Friday morning, though it was Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro who set the initial pace in the opening hour.

Espargaro took part in the shakedown earlier in the week, and was able to guide 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 2020-spec YZR-M1 top of the pile with a 1m58.945s, which would ultimately go unchallenged.

The morning running was briefly halted by a red flag for an incident involving on 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, while 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 as they returned to the track, though Quartararo’s benchmark remained intact.

Quartararo’s teammate Franco Morbidelli trailed him heading into the lunch break by 0.051 seconds, and held onto the place come the chequered flag.

Morbidelli won’t 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 November’s testing 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 up in sixth place, having crashed earlier in the day at the Turn 11 right-hander.

He, along with teammate 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 Aleix Espargaro was seventh ahead of KTM-mounted brother Pol – who also took part in the shakedown.

Joan Mir was ninth on the sister Suzuki, with Rossi rounding out the top 10 ahead of the first of the works team Ducatis 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 teammate 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.

In Andrea Iannone’s absence as his doping case rages on, Lorenzo Savadori rode the other Aprilia and was 4.205s off the pace after logging 31 laps.

Session results

120 Fabio QuartararoYamaha1’58.945 52
221 Franco MorbidelliYamaha1’58.9960.05162
342 Alex RinsSuzuki1’59.1950.25056
435 Cal CrutchlowHonda1’59.2340.28939
543 Jack MillerDucati1’59.2360.29147
612 Maverick VinalesYamaha1’59.3670.42249
741 Aleix EspargaroAprilia1’59.4270.48243
844 Pol EspargaroKTM1’59.5360.59148
936 Joan MirSuzuki1’59.5680.62351
1046 Valentino RossiYamaha1’59.5690.62448
114 Andrea DoviziosoDucati1’59.6660.72135
1293 Marc MarquezHonda1’59.6760.73137
1373 Alex MarquezHonda1’59.9180.97338
149 Danilo PetrucciDucati1’59.9390.99442
1526 Dani PedrosaKTM2’00.0171.07245
1688 Miguel OliveiraKTM2’00.1311.18649
1763 Francesco BagnaiaDucati2’00.1361.19153
1850 Sylvain GuintoliSuzuki2’00.3711.42648
195 Johann ZarcoDucati2’00.4641.51954
2027 Iker LecuonaKTM2’00.5111.56644
2133 Brad BinderKTM2’00.5191.57458
2253 Tito RabatDucati2’00.7501.80554
2330 Takaaki NakagamiHonda2’00.8151.87031
2490Yamaha test bikeYamaha2’01.0802.13550
2591Yamaha test bikeYamaha2’01.7442.79922
2632 Lorenzo SavadoriAprilia2’03.1504.20531

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