Honda ends MotoGP pre-season testing on top with Espargaro

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

Honda’s all-new MotoGP bike ended the final 2022 pre-season test at Indonesian venue Mandalika on top, courtesy of Pol Espargaro.

Espargaro, who had already been quickest on the opening day of the three-day test, surpassed Luca Marini’s Saturday benchmark in the first hour on Sunday, setting the 1m31.060s that now stands as the new Mandalika track’s new lap record.

The Spaniard was left buoyed not only by a strong performance on the kind of low-grip track that would’ve stymied him on last year’s Honda, but also by the fact he’d had no crashes on the new-spec RC213V, dubbing it “safer than ever”.

Team-mate Marc Marquez was only 14th, but had forgone anything resembling a qualifying simulation, having run out of energy in his right shoulder.

Pol Espargaro Honda MotoGP Mandalika

Reigning champion Fabio Quartararo, irked by the Yamaha’s lack of progress and particularly distressed by his recent struggles to extract one-lap pace, was an encouraging second-fastest.

Quartararo came up just 0.014s short of the top time, while Aleix Espargaro completed the top three for Aprilia, three tenths down on his brother and a tenth down on Espargaro.

Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli moved up to fourth in the closing minutes in his best pre-season showing so far.

Late-2021 form man Francesco Bagnaia ended the day in fifth place, admitting to media afterwards that he’d been struggling to extract his usual single-lap pace through testing but had finally made a step forward on Sunday.

Alex Rins Suzuki MotoGP Mandalika

Alex Rins made it five different manufacturers in the top six for Suzuki. His team-mate Joan Mir had to sit out the day completely due to apparent gastroenterological problems.

“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.

“I had to go back to the hotel because I was completely exhausted.”

The top KTM was that of Brad Binder in ninth, the South African among those to post a late improvement. Among the KTM contingent, Raul Fernandez completed just seven laps, before crashing and calling it a day due to feeling the apparent after-effects of a big head-bruising fall the day prior.

Beyond Fernandez, there was crashes for three Ducati riders in Jack Miller, Johann Zarco and Jorge Martin, along with a fall for Aleix Espargaro.

Session results

Pos. Rider Bike Time Gap Laps
1 Pol Espargaro Honda 1:31.060 38
2 Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 1:31.074 0.014 79
3 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1:31.385 0.325 51
4 Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 1:31.416 0.356 69
5 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 1:31.436 0.376 57
6 Alex Rins Suzuki 1:31.477 0.417 46
7 Maverick Vinales Aprilia 1:31.478 0.418 78
8 Johann Zarco Ducati 1:31.488 0.428 82
9 Brad Binder KTM 1:31.574 0.514 68
10 Alex Marquez Honda 1:31.603 0.543 75
11 Miguel Oliveira KTM 1:31.620 0.560 73
12 Luca Marini Ducati 1:31.665 0.605 50
13 Takaaki Nakagami Honda 1:31.687 0.627 91
14 Marc Marquez Honda 1:31.793 0.733 74
15 Jack Miller Ducati 1:31.870 0.810 78
16 Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha 1:31.890 0.830 62
17 Marco Bezzecchi Ducati 1:31.901 0.841 42
18 Fabio Di Giannantonio Ducati 1:31.915 0.855 38
19 Enea Bastianini Ducati 1:32.010 0.950 35
20 Jorge Martin Ducati 1:32.544 1.484 18
21 Remy Gardner KTM 1:32.860 1.800 42
22 Darryn Binder Yamaha 1:33.049 1.989 61
23 Raul Fernandez KTM 1:34.896 3.836 7
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