MotoGP Sepang Test: Pecco Bagnaia tops final day with record breaking 1:56 lap

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Reigning champion Pecco Bagnaia sent a strong message to his MotoGP rivals on the final day of the Sepang Test with a new (unofficial) lap record of 1:56.682.

Bagnaia was one of four riders to drop into the 1:56s, the first-time that milestone has been reached at the Malaysian circuit. The factory Ducati rider ended the day 0.172s clear of his main title rival from last season, Jorge Martin.

Enea Bastianini, who topped day two, completed the top three on the second factory Ducati. The Italian, who struggled with injury throughout 2023, but did win the Malaysian Grand Prix, was hailed by Ducati boss Davide Tardozzi, who spoke to

“Enea is absolutely over the moon,” Tardozzi said. “After a really bad year, now he’s another rider. He’s the Enea Bastianini of 2022 and I’m confident he’ll be a big contender.”

Jorge Martin finished second at the Sepang Test for Prima Pramac Racing Ducati

Alex Marquez made it four Ducati riders at the top of the timesheets with his 1:56.938, with Aleix Espargaro completing the top five for Aprilia. Espargaro completed a nine-lap simulation during the morning, which was, albeit in different conditions, 7.3 seconds faster that Alex Marquez’s Sprint Race-winning time from last season.

Marc Marquez enjoyed his best day yet for Gresini Racing Ducati in sixth, recording a best lap-time of 1:57.270 to end the day 0.588s behind Bagnaia. During a 10-lap run, Marquez produced an average lap-time of 1:58.566 in the cooler afternoon conditions.

Brad Binder was the leading KTM rider in seventh, ahead of Fabio Di Giannantonio and Pedro Acosta. The latter went under the outright lap record at Sepang in the morning with his 1:57.365, a feat achieved on only his sixth day onboard a MotoGP bike.

Alex Marquez ended the Sepang Test in fourth.

Later in the day, Acosta completed his first Sprint simulation (17:47.529) and was six seconds faster than Alex Marquez’s sprint-winning time last season, and only one second slower than Aleix Espargaro over nine laps.

Joan Mir completed the top 10 and ended his three days on a positive note. The Repsol Honda rider’s best lap-time of 1:57.374 was an astonishing 1.1s faster than his qualifying time at the circuit a few months ago. The only downside to his day was a small off at the final corner.

Fabio Quartararo once again led the two-man Yamaha charge in 11th, ahead of Maverick Vinales and Takaaki Nakagami. Jack Miller was 14th on the Red Bull KTM RC16 and completed another 60 laps on the final day.

Pedro Acosta continued to shine at the Sepang Test

Marco Bezzecchi was the only rider not to improve his lap-time on the third and final day, ending his test with a best lap-time of 1:57.867. The Italian suffered a crash at turn five late in the day.

Alex Rins and Johann Zarco were 16th and 17th respectively, ending their Sepang Tests ahead of Miguel Oliveira and Luca Marini. Cal Crutchlow completed the top 10 onboard the Yamaha M1.

Jack Miller testing KTM's front fender wing.

Augusto Fernandez, Lorenzo Savadori and Michele Pirro were the final classified riders. Savadori and Pirro have replaced the injured Raul Fernandez (Trackhouse Racing Aprilia) and Franco Morbidelli (Prima Pramac Racing Ducati).

With the three-day Sepang Test now complete the focus changes to the two-day Qatar Test at the Lusail International Circuit on February 19-20.

Enea Bastianini was the fastest rider on day two of the MotoGP Sepang Test after setting an all-new (unofficial) lap record.

The Italian recorded a session best of 1:57.134 and was on course to become the first-ever rider to drop into the 1:56s at the Malaysian circuit when he made a mistake whilst going through sector three.

It was a morning of record breaking laps, with 11 riders all recording laps inside the 1:57s within the first 90 minutes of the day. Given that Jorge Martin became the first rider to set a 1:57 lap of Sepang in 2022, it’s clear to see the big performance step that MotoGP has made.

Miguel Oliveira, MAverick Vinales and Aleix Espargaro work together during the Sepang Test

It was Martin, who topped day one, who finished second overall onboard the Prima Pramac Racing Ducati. Martin was the first rider to dip below the official lap record today when he recorded a 1:57.273, comfortably beating the 1:57.491 set by Pecco Bagnaia during Q2 for the 2023 Malaysian Grand Prix.

Brad Binder completed the top three for Red Bull KTM. The South African also went below Bagnaia’s lap record with a 1:57.327, set on lap 11 of the 42 he completed.

Aleix Espargaro was the highest-placed Aprilia rider in fourth. At one stage, Espargaro and fellow Aprilia riders Maverick Vinales and Raul Fernandez were all riding around together to test how the 2024 RS-GP was coping with the high temperatures.

Pedro Acosta is helped back to the paddock after a crash during the Sepang Test

Espargaro explained that he was struggling to breathe during the 2024 Thai Grand Prix due to the heat coming off his bike, whilst Vinales and Fernandez were both forced to retire from the race. Reliability in hotter temperatures was a big issue for Aprilia and an area in-which they’re keen to improve.

Reigning champion Bagnaia completed the top five on the second of the factory Ducati Desmosedici GP24s, whilst Fabio Di Giannantonio, who suffered a technical problem in the morning, and Alex Marquez were sixth and seventh respectively.  

Marquez put together an impressive 10-lap Sprint Race simulation late in the day, with the Gresini Racing Ducati man able to be faster than last season’s sprint race record seven times. The two-time world champion also suffered a crash at turn two.

Fabio Quartararo topped the speed charts at the Sepang Test

Rookie sensation Pedro Acosta was next in eighth with a session best of 1:57.726 (+0.592). That lap was four tenths quicker than the reigning Moto2 champion’s previous test best, and would also have put him fifth on the grid for last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix. Acosta did however suffer a crash at turn nine.

Marco Bezzecchi and Joan Mir completed the top 10, meaning that four manufacturers were included inside the top 10. Bezzecchi was battling towards the top of the timesheets in the opening hours of the day, but did crash at turn seven towards the end of the day.

Mir’s best of 1:57.872 was Honda’s best-ever lap of the Sepang circuit and an astonishing six tenths quicker than his Q1 time from last year’s race (1:58.440), where he was the fastest Honda rider.

Marc Marquez continues to push at the Sepang Test

Fabio Quartararo was the leading Yamaha rider in 11th. Remarkably, given Yamaha’s recent power issues, Quartararo was top of the speed charts with a best of 338.5kph – 1kph quicker than the KTMs of Binder and Miller. It was reported after the session had finished that the Frenchman was concerned with his time attack performance.

Johann Zarco and Alex Rins were 12th and 13th respectively as they get to grips with their new teams and bikes. Zarco crashed his LCR Honda at turn 15, whilst, according to Dorna pit-lane reporter Simon Crafar, the Monster Energy Yamaha team have been impressed by Rins’ braking ability.

Yamaha team boss Maio Meregalli also told the Dorna World Feed that they have locked in their aerodynamic package for the upcoming season.

Marc Marquez was 14th on the second of the Gresini Racing Ducati Desmosedici GP23s. Marquez was playing catch-up to some degree having had two technical failures on the opening day, and completed more laps than anybody else (72).

Joan Mir onboard the Repsol Honda RC213V

Miller and Nakagami finished their days in 15th and 16th, ahead of Luca Marini and Vinales. On a 13-lap run, Marini recorded 10 laps in the 1:59s onboard the Repsol Honda RC213V. In last season’s Sprint and Grand Prix race, all four Honda riders managed a combined total of two 1:59 lap-times. Marini was however still concerned about performance with used tyres.

Miguel Oliveira and Augusto Fernandez completed the top 20, with test riders Cal Crutchlow, Lorenzo Savadori and Michele Pirro the final classified riders. Savadori has replaced Raul Fernandez at Trackhouse Racing Aprilia, with the latter ruled out following a highside on the opening day.

Meanwhile, Pirro continues to ride the Pramac Racing Ducati bike as a replacement for the injured Franco Morbidelli.

2023 runner-up Jorge Martin topped the opening day of MotoGP testing at Sepang and was the only rider to drop into the 1:57s.

The Prima Pramac Racing Ducati rider posted a best of 1:57.951 on his 22nd lap of a 59-lap day, a lap-time which put him 0.269s clear of reigning Moto2 World Champion Pedro Acosta.

Acosta continued to shine at Sepang onboard the Red Bull GASGAS Tech3 machine and almost matched his best time set last week at the Shakedown Test, posting a best of 1:58.220 during his 60 laps.

Pedro Acosta in action for Red Bull GASGAS Tech3 at the MotoGP Sepang Test

Fabio Quartararo completed the top three on what appeared to be a positive opening day for the Frenchman. Like Acosta, Quartararo was also at the Shakedown Test last week thanks to the new concession regulations.

Quartararo ended the day only two tenths adrift of his best lap-time in last season’s Malaysian Grand Prix, whilst his Yamaha M1 was only 1kph (335.4) slower than the Ducati’s of Luca Marini, Jorge Martin and Marc Marquez, plus Acosta’s KTM RC16 (336.4).

Fabio Di Giannantonio was fourth, whilst Enea Bastianini was fifth onboard the factory Ducati Desmosedici GP24. Maverick Vinales, often considered to be the winter testing king, was sixth for Aprilia.

Fabio Quartararo tests the new Monster Energy Yamaha M1 at Sepang

Alex Marquez was the next Ducati rider in seventh, ending the opening day ahead of Marco Bezzecchi and new Gresini Racing teammate, Marc Marquez. Alex Marquez crashed at turn two earlier in the day, whilst Bezzecchi also went down at turn four with 30 minutes remaining on the clock.

Marc Marquez suffered two technical problems, the first of which came after just four corners as he stopped at turn four on his out lap. In the afternoon, Marquez then stopped at turn one, whilst he also pulled over later in the day to check if there was another issue with the bike, but fortunately on this occasion there wasn’t.

Johann Zarco completed the top 10 for LCR Honda, with all four HRC riders working with a number of new items including swingarms, aero, engines and chassis.

Marc Marquez in action for Gresini Racing Ducati at the MotoGP Sepang Test

Alex Rins was next in 11th onboard the second Monster Energy Yamaha M1, with Brad Binder and Aleix Espargaro ending their days in 12th and 13th respectively.  Joan Mir and Miguel Oliveira completed the top 15.

At one stage, Oliveira’s Aprilia RS-GP was fitted with an Aero Rake, a device usually found during the pre-season Formula One tests. The sensors are used to measure dynamic pressure and provides the team with information of the flow from the aerodynamics.

Reigning champion Pecco Bagnaia’s test didn’t get off to the best of starts downs in 16th. The Ducati racer crashed on his opening lap of the day at turn 11. Moments later, Raul Fernandez suffered a big highside at the same corner.

Fernandez was taken to the medical centre and the Trackhouse Racing Aprilia team have now confirmed that Fernandez will head to hospital this evening for furth checks.

Miguel Oliveira uses a Aero Rake during the Sepang Test

Luca Marini was 17th for Repsol Honda, whilst Jack Miller completed more laps than anybody else (69) onboard the Red Bull KTM RC16. KTM were working on electronics and a new exhaust system on the opening day, alongside aero and engine updates.

Cal Crutchlow and Takaaki Nakagami completed the top 10, with Augusto Fernandez, Raul Fernandez and Michele Pirro the final riders classified. Pirro was riding the Pramac Racing Ducati due to the injuries sustained by Franco Morbidelli during last week’s World Superbike test at Portimao.

Morbidelli crashed onboard a Ducati Panigale V4S machine and spent the night in hospital. It was later revealed that Marc and Alex Marquez rushed to Morbidelli’s aid, with the brothers moving the unconscious Italian into a lateral position so that he could breathe.

On February 4, the Pramac Racing team posted on social media that Morbidelli’s medical evaluation had been postponed for a few days to allow for “a more comprehensive understanding of his fitness and to determine his eligibility for participation in the upcoming scheduled test days.”