MotoGP Mandalika Test: Pol Espargaro leaves Indonesia fastest overall

Nobody could beat Pol Espargaro at the Mandalika Test
Nobody could beat Pol Espargaro at the Mandalika Test
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Pol Espargaro’s pre-season test programme has ended on a high after the Repsol Honda rider topped the three-day Mandalika test in Indonesia. 

Espargaro topped day one and day three, posting an overall best lap-time of 1:31.060 on the final day. The result further showcases the improvements found by Honda with their RC213V, which has overgone some big changes over the winter in order to try and make it a more rideable machine. 

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It’s a promsing start to the year, with Espargaro pointing out to MotoGP.com after the test that hot and humid places like Malaysia and Indonesia are normally where he and the bike struggle – but not this year. 

“I’m feeling really pleased with how this pre-season has gone and especially here in Mandalika,” Espargaro said in the official HRC press release. “It’s nice to get the fastest time but what’s more important is our pace and feeling with the bike, I’m able to ride how I want. I have to say congratulations to HRC and the Repsol Honda Team for all their work over winter, they’ve put in a lot of effort and the results are showing.

“Normally at hot tracks like here and Sepang I struggle a lot, but right now we leave having done two good tests and able to find somethings for long runs and on our one lap speed. Yesterday we solved a small issue we were having and it really helped us with the one lap speed. Now it’s time to rest a little and get ready for Qatar, my confidence is good and I can’t wait to race.”

Reigning champion Fabio Quartararo was second overall, just 0.014s behind Espargaro on day three. Whilst the position looks strong, Quartararo has been left feeling less than impressed with the new bike in terms of the overall package, citing a lack improvements with the engine and top speed. The Yamaha man could find himself in trouble down the long start/finish straight in Qatar. 

Despite finishing down in 12th on day three, Luca Marini’s session-topping time on the second day of action was enough to keep him third overall. The Mooney VR46 Racing Team rider posted a 1:31.289 on Saturday. 

Aleix Espargaro was third on Sunday after recording a best lap-time of 1:31.385, which puts him fourth on the combined timesheet. Espargaro has been reaping the rewards of the 2022 Aprilia RS-GP’s improved handling, whilst the manufacturer was also testing multiple chassis over the course of the weekend. 

Franco Morbidelli completed the top five on the second of the factory Yamaha M1s, finishing ahead of Francesco Bagnaia and Alex Rins. Maverick Vinales ensured that both Aprilias were inside the top eight, whilst Marc Marquez and Johann Zarco, who suffered a crash on the final day, completed the top 10. 

Marquez admitted that he was struggling slightly with his shoulder on Sunday, however his feeling with the 2022 bike is improving day by day. The six-time premier class champion believes HRC have taken a big step. 

Brad Binder was the fastest KTM rider in 11th, finishing just ahead of 2020 champion Joan Mir, who was forced to miss the final day. Mir is reported to have been affected by food poisoning based on the symptoms he was showing.

“This morning when I woke up I felt something strange in my stomach, like everything was moving,” Mir explained. “After having some breakfast, I went to the track, but once I was there, in the office I started to feel much worse and I started to throw up. Then the doctor came to my office to try to help me but at the end I had to go back to the hotel because I was completely exhausted.

“My physical condition has stopped me today, I had no power to ride the bike and this also conditioned our plan. I felt very bad today, but these things happen and in the end I have some good conclusions from the first and second day. I think we will arrive quite ready for the first race in Qatar despite all the inconveniences we found during the last two days here in Mandalika.”

Elsewhere, Jack Miller leaves Mandalika 18th overall after crashing during his race simulation, whilst Marco Bezzecchi pipped Fabio Di Giannantonio by 0.014s to end the test as the fastest rookie. 

Raul Fernandez, Remy Gardner and Darryn Binder completed the timesheets, with Fernandez only completing a few laps on the final day after suffering from the effects of a big crash on day two. Fernandez was struggling with his vision after reportedly suffering a concussion the day before, and admitted to having no speed perception as a result. Bruising was also visible on Fernandez head. 

The opening race of the 2022 MotoGP season takes place on March 6 at Losail, Qatar.

2022 Mandalika Test - Combined Result


MotoGP Mandalika Test: Pol Espargaro tops controversial opening day

First published: 11 February 2021 by Josh Close

Pol Espargaro Mandalika Day One

MotoGP riders made their debuts at the all-new Mandalika International Street Circuit in Indonesia today for the opening day of the three-day test and it was Pol Espargaro who topped the timesheets.

 

It was a controversial start to life in Indonesia. Heavy rainfall, combined with dust from nearby construction work, overnight caused the new circuit to become dirty and as a result the red flags were waved just after an hour into the session to allow for a 90-minute clear up operation to begin.

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Following a meeting between select MotoGP riders and Dorna Race Direction representative Carlos Ezpeleta and FIM safety officer Franco Uncini, riders were told to complete at least 20 laps before 3pm (local time) in order to try and clear the dirt that way. If lap-times were not significantly faster, then the session would have been stopped for the day.

Eventually the conditions out on the circuit did improve and once riders were able to stick click tyres into their bikes, lap-times began to fall. However, only Pol Espargaro managed to go quicker than the current lap record at the circuit, held by World Superbike champion Toprak Razgatlioglu – 1:32.882.

Espargaro’s fastest time on the heavily revised Repsol Honda RC213V was a 1:32.466, posted on his penultimate lap of the day (68/69). Only two more riders dropped into the 1:32s; brother Aleix on the Aprilia, and Red Bull KTM’s Brad Binder.

“It was a bit of a tricky start to the day in the morning, the track was dirty but the track improved as we continued to ride on it and cleaned the track,” Pol said. “As the day went on, we could ride in a better way and start to learn more about the track and also our bike, which is still quite new.

“Finally, I did a good lap and overall my rhythm was good, but it’s just the first day and tomorrow everyone will go a bit faster. The bike keeps improving and we are just at the start of our journey but it’s promising. Now it’s time to rest tonight and get back to work tomorrow.”

Alex Rins was fourth overall today, whilst reigning champion Fabio Quartararo completed the top five for Yamaha. The Frenchman completed 86 laps on his M1, and finished only 0.006s quicker than Jack Miller’s Ducati Desmocedici GP22.

Maverick Vinales was seventh on the second Aprilia, whilst Joan Mir, Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Martin completed the top 10. Marc Marquez had a quieter day, at least when it came to lap-times, down in 17th.

It was a tough day for 2021 runner-up Francesco Bagnaia. The Italian was 22nd overall after crashing in the afternoon. Sepang Test leader Enea Bastianini also struggled for outright pace in 18th.

Fabio Di Giannantonio was the quickest rookie in 14th, finishing 0.091s behind Johann Zarco. Raul Fernandez was 19th on the Tech3 KTM, whilst Marco Bezzecchi and Darryn Binder were 21st and 23rd respectively. Remy Gardner was last on the timesheets (24th) as he continues his recovery from a broken wrist.

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Josh Close

By Josh Close

Sports Reporter and fan of all things motorsport.