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MotoGP Qatar test: Bagnaia beats Ducati Martin to top opening day times

Reigning MotoGP world champion Francesco Bagnaia topped the opening day of the final 2024 pre-season test in Qatar from his 2023 title rival Jorge Martin.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Following three days of running in Malaysia earlier this month, the MotoGP pre-season ends in Qatar just two weeks before the 2024 campaign begins at the same venue.

After a fairly slow start to the day for most as track conditions proved suboptimal, more representative running was had as the sun set over the Losail International Circuit.

Ducati’s Bagnaia guided his GP24 to the best time of the day with a 1m52.040s, putting him just over four tenths away from the all-time lap record.

Bagnaia completed 51 laps and led a GP24 1-2 from Pramac’s Martin, further building on Ducati’s strong form with its new bike from the Sepang test.

Tech3 GasGas rookie Pedro Acosta set the early pace in the opening hour of running at a 1m58.141s as few ventured out onto the circuit.

At the end of hour two, Maverick Vinales had taken over as the rider to beat on his Aprilia with a 1m54.883s, which he bettered to a 1m54.067s come the end of hour three.

Hour four was also topped by Vinales, who admitted after the Sepang test that he felt like the 2024 Aprilia was “riding me” as he struggled to get to grips with it.

His 1m53.472s would be beaten by Raul Fernandez on the year-old Trackhouse Racing Aprilia, with the Spaniard edging ahead with a 1m52.814s come the end of the fifth hour of running.

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Fernandez suffered several fractures from a crash at the Sepang test but was declared fit to participate in the Qatar outing on Monday morning.

Come the end of hour six, Bagnaia had taken over top spot with a 1m52.040s that would not be beaten through to the end of the session at 9pm local time.

Martin ended up 0.220 seconds adrift in second after 58 laps, while Aleix Espargaro continued to show well on the new Aprilia in third.

KTM’s Brad Binder was a strong fourth, 0.296s off the pace, with Fabio Di Giannantonio fifth on the VR46-run 2023-spec Ducati.

Vinales was sixth ahead of Gresini’s Alex Marquez, who was one of a number of crashers on Monday, while Ducati’s Enea Bastianini, LCR Honda’s Johann Zarco and Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo rounded out the top 10.

Joan Mir was the leading factory team Honda in 13th from KTM’s Jack Miller, who suffered a crash late on. Acosta was 15th.

Marc Marquez made another low key start to testing aboard the sister Gresini Ducati, ending the day 0.919s off the pace in 16th after 58 laps of running.

Alex Rins was 19th on the other factory Yamaha, while 20th-placed Augusto Fernandez (Tech3) also crashed on Monday.

Pramac’s Franco Morbidelli continues to sit on the sidelines following a crash in training prior to the Sepang test and has been replaced by Ducati test rider Michele Pirro.

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