Ducati’s Petrucci tops Sepang Test Day 3 – Miller 3rd
After Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) missed out on setting the fastest ever lap of Sepang by just 0.067 on Thursday, Friday saw action in Malaysia end on a high as not one but six riders went quicker than Jorge Lorenzo’s quickest effort in 2018.
The quickest of them all, however, was Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) as the Italian stormed the timesheets with an awe-inspiring 1:58.239 after 32 laps – with rookie Francesco Bagnaia (Alma Pramac Racing) hot on his heels and only a fitting 0.063 in arrears after 21 laps.
Danilo Petrucci saying, “Today we started off on the right foot: I was supposed to try two ‘time attacks’ but one attempt, done with a medium rear tyre, was enough. When I saw the lap time on the dashboard, I was really happy. After that, we resumed our work on some new items. Unfortunately, however, I crashed while I was trying a new fairing around midday. Given the fact that I was also experiencing some issues with blisters in my hands, we decided to stop a bit ahead of schedule to recover and make sure we’re at our best in the next tests in Qatar. Overall, it’s been a really positive test.”
Pecco Bagnaia adding, “I’m very happy with the work we’ve done. We’ve created a good base of settings that will help us to have a good start in Qatar. We still have to work on some electronic details but I have to admit that I’m really happy. The time attack was very good and the pace is not bad either. We will do the race simulation in Qatar.”
Next came teammate Jack Miller, only another small margin further back, the Aussie doing 47 laps quick despite a crash, with Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) completing the top four, three tenths off the top. All in all, a stunner of a day for Ducati machinery.
Jack Miller saying, “Our speed is really good. I’m very happy about that. I’m not very happy with the race simulation but the temperature was really high and I had little feeling with the tyres. It’s a shame about the crash. I am especially sorry for the guys of my team who have worked very well these days.”
Andrea Dovizioso adding, “All in all, this test has been positive. It was important to push to the limit again today because we only have another test before the season starts, and we managed to post a competitive time even on a flying lap after being really consistent in yesterday’s race simulation. Also, to see so many Ducati bikes at the front confirms that we have a good base. We also tried a new fairing, with positive feedback. It’s still early to draw conclusions, but I’m happy with the work done here and now we’ll look for more ways to improve ahead of Qatar.”
Dovizioso was positive after the day, although he said there’s still room to improve mid-corner, and Team Manager Davide Tardozzi continued the positivity. The Italian said the riders seem happy with many of the updates brought to the test, including chassis updates and a new fairing, and the long run pace of Day 2 bodes well.
Alma Pramac rider Miller put in a long run on Day 3 too, with a good number of laps in the 2:00 and 2:01 bracket. Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) was a little further back on Day 3, but completed a positive test in P14.
After the Ducati lock out at the top, it was Viñales who remained close. The Spaniard put his newly-numbered number 12 into fifth on the timesheets, setting a 1:58.644 as his best of a whopping 79 laps. Viñales’ long run pace was also electric – with the Yamaha rider putting in 20 laps in the 1:59 and 2:00 brackets. Teammate Valentino Rossi was tenth on the timesheets after more than 60 laps, and it was a positive test for the Iwata marque overall.
Maverick Viñales saying, “The test was really good. I actually missed one time attack in the morning which I planned to make in the afternoon, but finally it was so hot that the tyre was sliding a lot, so I couldn‘t improve my lap time from the morning. Anyway, I‘m happy because on the race simulation I felt really good. I was really tired, but I felt good on the bike. Day by day the bike was working pretty similar, as in the last test. You always get positives and negatives testing new items. Now we have to come to a conclusion to see if we should bring the new fairing to Qatar. I also made some laps behind our rivals, so I could compare how our bike is working, and it‘s not bad. There are just some small details left and that‘s the most important. Last year they were some steps ahead, and now we are closer.”
Valentino Rossi adding, “I’m half happy because some things worked well and we improved our performance, other things from which we expected a lot unfortunately didn’t bring us what we need. So, for me, it’s good, because it’s the first test and we improved some things, but we have a lot of work to do. The gap is quite big, so we need time. I’m happy about the atmosphere and especially about the ideas inside the garage, it looks like Yamaha are very much concentrated on improving, so this is important.”?
Team Director Massimo Meregalli said focus was on taking the different parts and feedback and trying to create a “whole plan”, but that both riders chose more or less the same things and gave similar feedback. Engine decisions have also been made, the two riders remain in discussion about the aero-fairing, and now they’re hoping to reconfirm the results at Qatar.
Petronas Yamaha SRT, on their 2019 spec machines, also had another good showing on the timesheets. Franco Morbidelli was the second quickest Yamaha in P8 after 66 laps, with rookie teammate Fabio Quartararo in P16 after a mammoth 77 laps – just 0.011 behind rookie rival Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar).
Behind Viñales, the final man to beat the 2018 fastest lap was Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) as the Brit took P6 overall and was fastest Honda once again despite returning from injury. The three-time Grand Prix winner crashed on Day 3 once again but managed an increased 61 laps – a positive showing after so much time away – and did a best of a 1:58.780.
His teammate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), meanwhile, impressed once again as he completed Day 3 in P9 and in the top ten – making that three days in a row. The Japanese rider was happy after the test and put in 61 laps on Friday.
Reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) seemed relieved on the third day of testing to see the condition of his shoulder improved after a tough Day 2. The number 93 again finished work a little early to aid his recovery, but he did 39 laps with a best of a 1:59.170 and ended the day in P11 – just 0.015 off Rossi.
Marc Marquez saying, “Day three was very positive, especially with my physical condition – I’m feeling much better. Yesterday I was a little worried about riding today, but I woke up and felt better. We were able to try many things for Honda today and I felt really good on the bike, comfortable and consistent. Everything we had planned to do this test, we have done. Of course I would have liked to ride more but we had to take it a bit easy. Even so, I’m happy because I was riding easy, not in my riding style but I was able to ride more. I didn’t crash and we tried the most important things for the Repsol Honda Team, I am happy because of this.”
Honda Test Team rider Stefan Bradl also added more than 50 laps to the count for the Japanese manufacturer, ending the day in P13, and tested a new aero fairing, as did Marquez.
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was another who put in a stunning performance on Day 3, ending the session in seventh and only just outside Lorenzo’s quickest 2018 lap. He did 52 laps. Technical Director Romano Albesiano was positive about the laptime and the performance of the electronics and chassis, saying it’s been a positive winter and six days of testing so far are encouraging. Espargaro’s teammate Andrea Iannone, meanwhile, sat out the action due to illness.
Team Suzuki Ecstar had a more low-key day on Friday, on the timesheets at least, with Alex Rins the highest-placed Hamamatsu machine in P12, 0.010 off Marquez but putting in 75 laps. Rookie Joan Mir made a big move up the rankings on Day 3 though, ending the session in P15 and only three tenths off his teammate. Rins had positive things to say about Friday and especially about the test overall, with Suzuki aiming to keep their stunning 2018 form despite now having lost concessions for this season.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing saw Johann Zarco once again the fastest Austrian machine as the Frenchman took P17 with a 1:59.640 after 44 laps – but he only pipped teammate Pol Espargaro by just over a tenth. The Spaniard was P18, with Miguel Oliveira putting his Red Bull KTM Tech 3 machine just behind the two factory bikes. Chassis, suspension and aero were all being worked on, and long run pace was a positive for the Austrian factory. There were several versions of the aero package from KTM, and further testing will take place at Qatar before a decision is made.
2019 Official MotoGP Sepang Test – Combined Times
- Danilo PETRUCCI – 1:58.239
- Francesco BAGNAIA – 1:58.302
- Jack MILLER – 1:58.366
- Andrea DOVIZIOSO – 1:58.538
- Maverick VIÑALES – 1:58.644
- Cal CRUTCHLOW – 1:58.780
- Aleix ESPARGARO – 1:59.022
- Franco MORBIDELLI – 1:59.141
- Takaaki NAKAGAMI – 1:59.148
- Valentino ROSSI – 1:59.155
- Marc MARQUEZ – 1:59.170
- Alex RINS – 1:59.180
- Stefan BRADL – 1:59.368
- Tito RABAT – 1:59.485
- Joan MIR – 1:59.486
- Fabio QUARTARARO – 1:59.497
- Johann ZARCO – 1:59.640
- Pol ESPARGARO – 1:59.751
- Miguel OLIVEIRA – 1:59.949
- Karel ABRAHAM – 2:00.378
- Andrea IANNONE – 2:00.510
- Mika KALLIO – 2:00.523
- Hafizh SYAHRIN – 2:00.766
- Yamaha TEST 1 – 2:00.965
- Sylvain GUINTOLI – 2:00.990
- Bradley SMITH – 2:00.995
- Yamaha TEST 2 – 2:01.243
- Takuya TSUDA – 2:03.276