MotoGP Mutterings: Ducati locks out first test

by Mat Oxley on 8th February 2019

Desmosedicis ran riot at Sepang, but fast one-off laps don’t always mean much when the actual racing starts

Ducati MotoGP testing Sepang 2019

Image: Mat Oxley

Ducati riders dominated the first preseason tests at Sepang, Malaysia, with the best four laps set by riders using the factory’s Desmosedici GP19 and GP18 machines.

Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) commenced his first season as a full-factory rider with the fastest-ever lap around Sepang, even though he wasn’t trying for a time attack!

“I thought my onboard-timer had broken,” said the 28-year-old former superstock rider, who set the time early this morning, before track temperatures rose to around 60deg C.

However, Petrucci doesn’t believe he’s fast enough over race distance to be in the hunt for winning the first race of the season in Qatar next month. He feels he’s good enough for a top-five finish and thinks there will be 10 riders fighting for those top five positions. 

Sensation of the three days was Moto2 world champion Franco Bagnaia (Pramac Ducati), who was just 0.063 seconds slower than Petrucci. “The big difference compared to my first MotoGP rides last November is that I have adjusted my style from Moto2 – I am better at braking and preparing the exit of the corners like a MotoGP rider,” said the VR46 Riders Academy man.


More: MotoGP Mutterings: The Honda/Ducati fight...


Next was Bagnaia’s team-mate Jack Miller, a further six hundredths down, showing excellent speed despite falling on each of the three days.

The Aussie was almost two-tenths ahead of Petrucci’s team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, who made some important improvements to set-up but didn’t get on with a new chassis designed to improve turning.

First non-Ducati rider was Maverick Viñales (Monster Yamaha). The Spanish youngster was four tenths slower than Petrucci, but all the men ahead of him agreed that Viñales had the best race pace, with Álex Rins (Ecstar Suzuki) also running very fast rhythms in the heat, although he was only 12th in outright times.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) was heroically fast, considering he hadn’t ridden a bike for 111 days since his massive Australian GP shunt. The Briton, riding with a heavily pinned and plated right ankle, was half a second off Petrucci despite one minor off. 

Valentino Rossi (Monster Yamaha) was 10th, focusing on doing runs with used tyres. He believes Yamaha has made some useful improvements to the M1’s chassis, engine and electronics to improve rear-tyre wear, his main issue last season.

Reigning world champion Marc Márquez (Repsol Honda) took things relatively easy, riding half days to prevent overstressing his left shoulder, which is still weak following major surgery in December. He led the first day and finished the three days in 11th.

More detailed insight coming from Sepang over the next hours and days.

 

Top 10 combined testing times, Sepang 2019

Rider Team Time Day
Danilo Petrucci Ducati 1min 58.239sec 3
Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 1min 58.302sec 3
Jack Miller Ducati 1min 58.366sec 3
Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1min 58.538sec 3
Maverick Viñales Yamaha 1min 58.644sec 3
Cal Crutchlow Honda 1min 58.780sec 3
Aleix Espargaró Aprilia 1min 59.022sec 3
Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 1min 59.141sec 3
Takaaki Nakagami Honda 1min 59.148sec 3
Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1min 59.155sec 3

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