Vinales tops MotoGP’s Sepang shakedown for Aprilia

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

Aprilia MotoGP rider Maverick Vinales set the pace in the three-day shakedown at Sepang ahead of the official pre-season test, with Raul Fernandez quickest among the rookies.

Feb 01 : What to look out for in MotoGP's first pre-season test

Along with the manufacturers’ usual crop of test riders, the five rookies set to debut in 2022 and Aprilia’s two race riders – due to its status as MotoGP’s last remaining concession marque – were allowed to take part.

Vinales joined the shakedown on the second day, with his regular Aprilia team-mate Aleix Espargaro added to the proceedings a day later.

And it was the Aprilia duo that unsurprisingly locked out the top two spots, Vinales jumping ahead of Espargaro by a tenth and a half in the closing hours of Wednesday’s running.

Tech3 KTM’s highly-touted signing Fernandez had been quickest on the opening day, before the arrival of the works Aprilia men, and – despite a fall on Tuesday – ended the shakedown as the fastest of the five rookies.

Raul Fernandez Tech3 KTM MotoGP Sepang shakedown

However, VR46 Ducati rider Marco Bezzecchi was just a quarter of a second down, producing a much-improved showing compared to his laptimes in the end-of-2021 Jerez test.

Fernandez’s team-mate Remy Gardner had doubts he would be able to do much meaningful running during the shakedown, having fractured his right wrist while training with a motocross bike in the lead-up to Sepang.

However, Gardner ran all three days, and felt he wound up “closer than I expected”.

Remy Gardner Tech3 KTM MotoGP Sepang shakedown

“It’s sore,” Gardner said of his wrist when quizzed by The Race at the end of the shakedown.

“Every day at the end of the day it was really sore.

“The first two days it held on quite okay – today, the morning was good, the run before lunch I started to feel it was kind of dropping off, and when I got back on the bike this afternoon, I didn’t even have the strength to pull the brake lever anymore.”

A generally improved showing from Moto3 convert Darryn Binder left him as fourth-fastest among the rookies, but the RNF Yamaha man was aided by Fabio Di Giannantonio – the quickest of the newcomers back in Jerez – being sidelined after just one day.

Fabio Di Giannantonio Gresini Ducati MotoGP Sepang shakedown

Di Giannantonio came down with a stomach bug after Monday’s running, and while MotoGP’s Clinica Mobile diagnosed it as “simple gastroenteritis”, the Italian hasn’t managed to return to action yet due to concerns over dehydration while riding.

Ducati’s Michele Pirro was the quickest of the testers, albei it is unclear how fast the two highest-profile testers – Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) and Dani Pedrosa (KTM) were.

Crutchlow, whose Yamaha test deal was officially extended to 2023 recently, was only believed to have joined the proceedings on the final day, whereas Pedrosa rode untimed.

Stefan Bradl Honda MotoGP Sepang shakedown

Honda’s Stefan Bradl was pictured in race rider Pol Espargaro’s overalls, because of a shipping delay that also meant the German was riding a different 2022 Honda prototype to the one he was originally slated to trial.

The two-day official Sepang test will take place on February 5-6.

Combined times

Pos. Rider Manufacturer Time
1 Maverick Vinales Aprilia 1:58.942
2 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1:59.086
3 Raul Fernandez KTM 1:59.468
4 Marco Bezzecchi Ducati 1:59.711
5 Michele Pirro Ducati 1:59.805
6 Remy Gardner KTM 2:00.046
7 Stefan Bradl Honda 2:00.449
8 Sylvain Guintoli Suzuki 2:00.491
9 Darryn Binder Yamaha 2:00.928
10 Mika Kallio KTM 2:01.074
11 Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia 2:01.676
12 Test bike 1 Yamaha 2:01.819
13 Fabio Di Giannantonio Ducati 2:02.596
14 Test bike 2 Yamaha 2:02.257
15 Takuya Tsuda Suzuki 2:02.661
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