Petronas SRT Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo started 2020 where he finished off 2019, topping the timesheets on the opening day of MotoGP testing action at the Sepang International Circuit.
Setting his time early in the day and before heavy rain hit the Malaysian track in the afternoon, Quartararo’s best lap was set on a 2019-spec Yamaha M1 instead of his new 2020 model as the factory divide up machines between him and factory riders Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales.
In a mirror-image of most sessions at last year’s Malaysian GP, Quartararo’s team-mate Franco Morbidelli was second – only 0.051s behind – albeit also able to concentrate on refining his settings on a familiar bike as he too spent the day on 2019 machinery.
Third was Alex Rins, with the Suzuki rider showing the potential of the 2020 GSX-RR as he and team-mate Joan Mir work through an extensive testing programme. Mir was also impressive, ending the day in ninth.
Cal Crutchlow was a surprise fourth place despite taking on the majority of Honda’s testing programme as Marc Marquez recovers from extensive shoulder surgery and rookie Alex Marquez comes to grips with the works Honda.
The elder Marquez brother was 12th with the reigning Moto2 world champion only one place behind him in 13th.
Pramac Ducati’s Jack Miller replicated friend Crutchlow’s form by coming home top bike for his manufacturer in fifth, with the factory Desmosedicis of Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci a distant 11th and 14th respectively.
Vinales was sixth on the first of the 2020 Yamahas on track on Friday, while team-mate Rossi was 10th.
Reportedly happy with first impressions of the bike, Rossi was also to end the day ninth on speed traps – with initial reports suggesting the 2020 Yamaha has found up to five kilometres per hour extra on last year’s.
The Espargaro brothers had strong outings for their respective manufacturers inside the top 10, with Aleix in seventh and Pol in eighth highlighting the development progress that both Aprilia and KTM are making.
Action at Sepang continues from 10am local time on Saturday for day two of the three-day outing.
Leading Friday times
1 Fabio Quartararo (SRT Yamaha) 1m58.945s
2 Franco Morbidelli (SRT Yamaha) +0.051s
3 Alex Rins (Suzuki) +0.250s
4 Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) +0.289s
5 Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) +0.291s
6 Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) +0.422s
7 Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +0.482s
8 Pol Espargaro (KTM) +0.591s
9 Joan Mir (Suzuki) +0.623s
10 Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) +0.624s