until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


What went down on first day of final MotoGP pre-season test

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Reigning champion Pecco Bagnaia set the pace on the first day of the two-day Qatar test that concludes the 2024 MotoGP pre-season.

Key moments:

  • Bagnaia, Martin out front again
  • Aprilia, KTM in the hunt
  • Marquez only 16th

Aprilia riders led for most of the day, the RS-GP flashing a familiar affinity for the low-grip conditions of a dusty Lusail circuit, while the Ducatis came to the fore in the cooler, grippier final hours.

Maverick Vinales, Aprilia, MotoGP

Maverick Vinales, who had been off his game in the first pre-season test at Sepang, led most of the day and at one point headed an Aprilia 1-2-3 with factory team-mate Aleix Espargaro and the returning Raul Fernandez, on form immediately despite nursing a triple fracture from a crash that had wrecked his Sepang outing.

Soon enough, however, the 2024 Ducatis made their mark as they had done in Malaysia, with Bagnaia firing himself clear on a 1m52.040s - just three tenths off the pole record at the venue.

Bagnaia's 2023 title rival Jorge Martin lapped 0.22s off the Italian, which was enough to establish a Ducati 1-2.

It held up against a subsequent improvement from Espargaro, the lead Aprilia in third, and a major late push by KTM's Brad Binder.

Binder had been vaulted into the top five by a lap in the tow of Alex Marquez's Gresini-run 2023-spec Ducati, but then went faster all by himself in the closing minutes.

He looked like challenging Bagnaia's benchmark over the first three sectors before dropping to three tenths back at the start-finish line, for the day's fourth-fastest time.

Fabio Di Giannantonio, VR46 Ducati, MotoGP

VR46 Ducati newcomer Fabio Di Giannantonio continued where he had left off at Sepang, a frontrunner throughout the whole day and eventually winding up in fifth, as the fastest of the Ducati GP23s.

Vinales, the younger Marquez and Enea Bastianini completed the top eight.

Johann Zarco and Fabio Quartararo elevated themselves into the top 10 late on, as the fastest riders for Honda and Yamaha respectively - both six tenths off the pace.

Di Giannantonio's team-mate Marco Bezzecchi continued his iffy pre-season by crashing early on and finishing just outside the top 10.

There were also crashes for KTM's Jack Miller and Tech3 Gas Gas sophomore Augusto Fernandez.

Marc Marquez was 16th-fastest, up front early on but eventually shuffled down the order. He was the seventh-fastest Ducati rider, ahead only of test rider Michele Pirro - taking up Franco Morbidelli's spot at Pramac.

Morbidelli, still on the sidelines after his crash in private road bike testing, is set to return in the Qatar opener in just under three weeks' time.

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