Aleix Espargaro tops first MotoGP test in Qatar for Aprilia

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro topped the opening day of MotoGP pre-season testing in Qatar aboard his new RS-GP, while there was a crash for LCR Honda’s Alex Marquez.

Aleix Espargaro tops first MotoGP test in Qatar for Aprilia
Listen to this article

Pre-season testing should have gotten underway back in February, but the escalating COVID situation in Malaysia forced MotoGP to cancel this and confine all five days of running this winter to Qatar in March.

High winds and dust greeted the field at the Losail International Circuit, with the sub-optimal conditions meaning just nine riders took to the track in the opening hour of running.

Factory KTM rider Miguel Oliveira set the early pace with a 1m57.707s as he had his first taste of the new RC16. New Honda signing Pol Espargaro was one of the first on track as he began his learning process of the RC213V, with the six-time MotoGP podium finisher taking over top spot 10 minutes into the second hour with a 1m57.566s.

By the end of Hour 2, Oliveira had returned to top spot with a 1m56.980s, while HRC test rider and Marc Marquez substitute Stefan Bradl topped the times after Hour 3. The German has been hard at work testing the 2021 RC213V in private tests already this winter, and was on track in Qatar in the shakedown on Friday.

Read Also:

Aprilia’s Espargaro would round out our fourth fastest of all on the all-new RS-GP, the Spaniard firing in a 1m55.239s. Espargaro was able to take part in the shakedown on Friday, but tyre allocation limits meant he opted against this.

With just under three hours to go, one of Pramac Ducati’s new signings Johann Zarco shot to the top of the pile on his GP21 – carrying the F1 logo in 2021 – with a 1m55.163s.

Espargaro would guide his Aprilia to the first sub-1m55s lap of the day with around 90 minutes remaining, the Aprilia rider moving clear with a 1m54.912s, which he bettered on his following lap to a 1m54.687s. This time wouldn’t be bettered as the session wound to a close, with Bradl holding onto second ahead of reigning world champion Joan Mir on his Suzuki.

Jack Miller was top Ducati runner in fourth as he made his factory team debut, trying various new items including a new aerodynamic fairing. He headed Oliveira and Zarco, while Franco Morbidelli was the fastest Yamaha rider in seventh on his slightly-updated Petronas SRT ‘A-spec’ M1.

Valentino Rossi, Petronas Yamaha SRT
Valentino Rossi, Petronas Yamaha SRT
1/20

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team
2/20

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing
3/20

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Iker Lecuona, Red Bull KTM Tech 3
Iker Lecuona, Red Bull KTM Tech 3
4/20

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi, Petronas Yamaha SRT
Valentino Rossi, Petronas Yamaha SRT
5/20

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team
6/20

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team
Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team
7/20

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing
8/20

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Jack Miller, Ducati Team
Jack Miller, Ducati Team
9/20

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Franco Morbidelli, Petronas Yamaha SRT
Franco Morbidelli, Petronas Yamaha SRT
10/20

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Iker Lecuona, Red Bull KTM Tech 3
Iker Lecuona, Red Bull KTM Tech 3
11/20

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing
12/20

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team
13/20

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi, Petronas Yamaha SRT, bike detail
Valentino Rossi, Petronas Yamaha SRT, bike detail
14/20

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Danilo Petrucci, Red Bull KTM Tech 3
Danilo Petrucci, Red Bull KTM Tech 3
15/20

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team
Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team
16/20

Photo by: Repsol Media

Takaaki Nakagami, Team LCR Honda
Takaaki Nakagami, Team LCR Honda
17/20

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team
Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team
18/20

Photo by: Repsol Media

Johann Zarco, Pramac Racing
Johann Zarco, Pramac Racing
19/20

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
20/20

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Alex Rins was one of the last riders to take to the track on Saturday and was eighth on his Suzuki, with factory Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales ninth, ahead of LCR’s Marquez – who walked away unscathed from a fall earlier in the day. Takaaki Nakagami shadowed his LCR teammate in 11th as he got to grips with the 2021 RC213V, with Brad Binder (KTM) and the sister factory team Ducati of Francesco Bagnaia following.

Valentino Rossi was 14th at the end of his first day as a Petronas SRT rider, edging his factory Yamaha replacement Fabio Quartararo by 0.123s.

Pol Espargaro was 17th on his Honda debut having completed the most laps of anyone with 68, while Jorge Martin in 18th was fastest of the rookie crop on his Pramac Ducati.

shares
comments

Related video

Pramac Ducati team to carry F1 logo on 2021 MotoGP bikes
Previous article

Pramac Ducati team to carry F1 logo on 2021 MotoGP bikes

Next article

Espargaro: New Aprilia MotoGP bike “different” to ride

Espargaro: New Aprilia MotoGP bike “different” to ride
Why Honda and Yamaha have been left behind in MotoGP's new era Prime

Why Honda and Yamaha have been left behind in MotoGP's new era

OPINION: The once all-conquering Japanese manufacturers are going through a difficult period in MotoGP this season. With Suzuki quitting, Honda struggling to get near the podium and Yamaha only enjoying success courtesy of Fabio Quartararo, Japanese manufacturers have been left in the dust by their European counterparts. This is why.

MotoGP
Jun 28, 2022
How in-form Quartararo is evoking Marquez in MotoGP 2022 Prime

How in-form Quartararo is evoking Marquez in MotoGP 2022

OPINION: Fabio Quartararo has seized control of the 2022 MotoGP world standings after another dominant victory as his nearest rivals faltered. And he is very much heading towards a second championship echoing how the dominator of the last decade achieved much of his success.

MotoGP
Jun 20, 2022
Why Marquez's surgery is about more than just chasing on-track success Prime

Why Marquez's surgery is about more than just chasing on-track success

OPINION: Marc Marquez will likely sit out the remainder of the 2022 MotoGP season to undergo a fourth major operation on the right arm he badly broke in 2020. It is hoped it will return him to his brilliant best after a tough start to the season without a podium to his name. But it’s the human victory that will far outweigh any future on-track success he may go on to have

MotoGP
May 31, 2022
Why Ducati holds all the power in its MotoGP rider dilemma Prime

Why Ducati holds all the power in its MotoGP rider dilemma

OPINION: The French Grand Prix looks to have made Ducati’s decision on its factory team line-up simpler, as Enea Bastianini stormed to his third win of the campaign and Jorge Martin crashed out for a fifth time in 2022. But, as Ducati suggests to Motorsport.com, it remains in the strongest position in a wild rider market

MotoGP
May 16, 2022
The seismic aftershock of Suzuki's decision to leave MotoGP Prime

The seismic aftershock of Suzuki's decision to leave MotoGP

Suzuki's sudden decision to leave the MotoGP World Championship at the end of the season has acted as a stirring element in a market that had already erupted. We analyse what this means for the grid going into 2023

MotoGP
May 11, 2022
How the real Ducati began to emerge in MotoGP's Spanish GP Prime

How the real Ducati began to emerge in MotoGP's Spanish GP

Ducati’s 2022 MotoGP bike has had a tough start to life and the expected early-season title charge from Francesco Bagnaia did not materialise. But the Spanish Grand Prix signalled a turning point for both the GP22 and Bagnaia, as the 2021 runner-up belatedly got his season underway after a straight fight with Fabio Quartararo

MotoGP
May 2, 2022
How praise for Honda's MotoGP bike has given way to doubt Prime

How praise for Honda's MotoGP bike has given way to doubt

In a little over two months, Honda has gone from setting the pace in MotoGP testing with its new RC213V prototype to being at a crossroads - caused by the discrepancy in its riders' feedback. After a Portuguese GP that underwhelmed, serious questions are now being asked of Honda in 2022

MotoGP
Apr 26, 2022
Why Quartararo's win was vital not only for his title hopes Prime

Why Quartararo's win was vital not only for his title hopes

Fabio Quartararo got his MotoGP title defence off the ground in the Portuguese Grand Prix as a dominant first win of 2022 rocketed him to the top of the standings. While a significant result in terms of his title hopes, it has come at an even more important time in terms of his 2023 contract negotiations

MotoGP
Apr 25, 2022