I remember the day Valentino Rossi lowered the two-minute barrier for the first time at the Sepang track. The perfect return we said then and today, several years later, his brother on the mother’s side, Luca Marini stopped the clock in 1:57.889, a record that makes him the fastest in this long-awaited Sepang test in which Ducati once again showed off. It is not the fastest lap seen on the Malaysian track, because Jorge Martín was 99 thousandths faster in the last GP to win pole position, but the winner of six races in Moto2, the same one who is yet to debut on the podium in the queen class, reconfirms that any MotoGP rider with the desire to do well can go fast with the Ducati, and he has it.
The power displayed by the Italian factory in this three-day test at Sepang has been impressive, with six of its eight bikes on track qualifying in the top nine. Only Johann Zarco has been left out of the top ten (sixteenth), but the Frenchman is also expected during the season to give battle in any race. Marini has been followed 80 thousandths of a distance by Francesco Bagnaia, who thus debuts the number 1 on his fairing as the best of those who in theory should fight for the title. By the way, about Marini also say that his first place should not be taken as a joke. First of all, because there has been no one faster than him, but also because he has shown a good pace in longer runs. Besides, It must be remembered that the fastest last year in this test was Enea Bastianini, with 1:58.131, and then he won four races throughout the season, so watch out for Marini, who wants to show that he is much more than his brother of Rossi, the owner of the team in which he plays.
The first two have been followed by Maverick Viñales with a new Aprilia that is an evolution of last year and that shows good manners. Next, Bastianini and Martín, who led on Saturday, in the least productive day due to the rain. Aleix was fifth and was followed by three other Desmosedici, those of Di Giannantonio, Bezzecchi (he led on Friday) and Álex Márquez. The top ten is closed by Marc Márquez, who has taken a small step forward in the last day to finally enter the top ten, but still far from the fastest, because he has stayed at 0.777. The good thing for him is that they have collected a lot of information and there is yet another momentous three-day test in March, in Portimao, before the World Cup starts on March 26 at the Portuguese Algarve track.
Outside the top ten were Raúl Fernández (11th in his debut in Sepang with the Aprilia), Joan Mir (12 at 0.821 from the head in his first test with the Honda in Malaysia), Pol (13 at 0.908 in his debut with the GASGAS on this track), Rins (19th in his debut here with the Honda) and Augusto Fernández (22nd, 1,771 behind the head).
Quartararo’s 17th and Morbidelli’s 20th stand out due to the negative, especially considering that the new Yamaha engine has given up to five kilometers per hour more top speed on the Sepang straight. It is clear that, even though it is very important, speed is not everything when it comes to going fast on a motorcycle. Márquez himself made it clear yesterday that they have plenty of horsepower in the new Honda engine, but that they must be efficient when opening the throttle and get more grip on the rear wheel when accelerating. which is one of the points where the Ducati make the difference. Let’s see what happens in the next test, but 2023 begins as 2022 ended, with Ducati power.