Marc Marquez sent an early warning to the rest of the MotoGP paddock by ending day one of the Sepang pre-season test on top – despite not being 100% fit.
The reigning champion topped the timing sheets with a lap-time of 1:59.621, a quarter of a second faster than Alex Rins on the Suzuki. Marquez set that time midway through the eight-hour session, before calling it a day after 29 laps.
The Repsol Honda rider achieved this despite that fact that he had shoulder surgery in December. Marquez has been going through a tough rehabilitation routine in order to recover from the four-hour procedure.
Second-placed Rins was able to complete 61 laps on his Suzuki and spent most of the morning on top of the timing sheets. The 23-year-old is looking to build on a great 2018, and many people predict that he will win a race this season.
Joining Marquez and Rins inside the top three was Maverick Vinales on the new-look Yamaha. Vinales was only +0.057s slower than the Suzuki rider, but he himself was only +0.046s quicker than Tito Rabat. This was Rabat’s first-time on track since his accident at Silverstone, and he ended the day as the top Ducati.
Danilo Petrucci ended his debut with the factory Ducati team in fifth spot, completing 54 laps with a fastest time of 2:00.051.
Nine-time champion Valentino Rossi was next-up in sixth spot, just +0.003s behind his fellow countryman. Rossi and the Yamaha team are focusing on their engine, the electronics and some chassis elements throughout the test.
Takaaki Nakagami (seventh), Andrea Dovizioso (eighth), Stefan Bradl (ninth) and Pol Espargaro completed the top 10. KTM’s Espargaro had set the pace early in the session but would crash in the closing stages.
Cal Crutchlow made his first appearance on a MotoGP machine since his horrific crash at Phillip Island in October, which saw him break his ankle in 17 places. Crutchlow was able to complete 51 laps and ended the day in 14th spot, just over a second off Marquez’s time.
The new Petronas Yamaha team had a positive day, with Franco Morbidelli ending the session in 12th and premier class rookie Fabio Quartararo finishing 18th.
Fellow rookies, Francesco Bagnaia and Miguel Oliveira would finish their first MotoGP test in 15th and 16th respectively. Bagnaia, the reigning Moto2 champion, was the fastest debutant of the day.
Day two of the Sepang test is scheduled to begin at 10am tomorrow morning (February 7), and it will be another eight-hour session.