Aleix Espargaro leaves with the best time, 13 thousandths ahead of his teammate Maverick Viñales.
Aleix Espargaro ended the opening day of the official Sepang pre-season test at the head of the times, the Aprilia man coming fractions away from posting a new lap record.
Espargaro led the way for the bulk of the day after posting his lightning-quick 1:58.371s tour just before the lunch break, a time just 0.07s adrift of Fabio Quartararo’s outright lap record of the Sepang International Circuit.
Enea Bastianini managed to hang on in second just under three-tenths adrift of the Spaniard for the lion’s share of the afternoon, though the other RS-GP of Maverick Vinales would fire in an effort just 0.013s slower than his team-mate, which would be enough to see Aprilia end Saturday running 1-2 on the timesheets.
Top 10 Day 1:
1. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) – 1:58.371
2. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia Racing) + 0.013
3. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.100
4. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) + 0.267
5. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 0.575
6. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.631
7. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.696
8. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.916
9. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.982
10. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) + 1.097
Suzuki’s Alex Rins- like Vinales -was a similarly late improver as he manoeuvred his GSX-RR into third overall with just a handful of minutes remaining on the clocks, the three-time MotoGP race winner lapping just a tenth from Espargaro’s leading benchmark.
Bastianini therefore had to make do with a still-strong fourth on his Gresini Ducati, the Italian three-tenths clear of fellow Ducati pilot Johann Zarco who completed Saturday’s top five.
Reigning MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo was sixth ahead of the other Suzuki of Joan Mir, while Marc Marquez managed to get Honda’s all-new RC213-V up to eighth towards the end of the session despite a couple of late crashes.
He managed to shade factory Honda team-mate Pol Espargaro by just 0.066s in the final reckoning, while rookie Marco Bezzecchi ended up an encouraging tenth overall for the VR46 outfit.
Raul Fernandez ended up as KTM’s highest classified rider at the end of the day, the 2021 Moto2 vice-champion leading the manufacturer’s factory rider Brad Binder-who suffered a small crash in the morning session-by just over a tenth in 13th overall.
Ducati’s factory riders enjoyed a quiet day putting mileage on the Italian marque’s new Desmosedici, though Jack Miller would suffer a slight set-back with a technical problem halting his progress before the lunch stop.
The Aussie would end the day 22nd overall, three places behind team-mate and 2021 MotoGP runner-up Francesco Bagnaia in 19th.
Yamaha test rider Cal Crutchlow showed strong speed as he ended the day 11th in the lap-time charts just over a second from the top, with Franco Morbidelli down in 21st on the second of the factory M1’s.
Andrea Dovizioso led the way for the new RNF Racing Yamaha squad, though the ex-Ducati racer had to make do with a lowly 23rd overall with rookie team-mate Darryn Binder 25th quickest.
Espargaro Vinales 1-2 on Day 1 at the Sepang Test Espargaro Vinales 1-2 on Day 1 at the Sepang Test