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MotoGP Sepang test: Marini tops final day from Bagnaia

VR46 Ducati rider Luca Marini ended the first pre-season MotoGP test of 2023 fastest of all ahead of reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia.

Luca Marini, VR46 Racing Team

MotoGP

The third and final day of the Sepang test in Malaysia was once again affected by rain, but only late on in the final hour when most had completed their run plans.

A late time attack just before the end of the penultimate hour put Marini to the top of the times with the best lap of the test at 1m57.889s to complete Ducati’s clean sweep at Sepang.

A damp start when the track opened at 10am local time kept most riders inside their garages, with Pramac’s Johann Zarco venturing out briefly to set the only lap time – a 2m10.411s.

As conditions improved in the second hour, 16 riders put times on the board, with Marco Bezzecchi – Friday’s session-topper – setting the pace on his VR46 Ducati with a 1m59.506s.

He would be bested by team-mate Marini in hour three, who moved clear with a 1m58.642s, before Pramac Ducati’s Jorge Martin took over in hour four with a 1m58.204s.

Martin, who topped Saturday’s session, was carrying pain in his hand from a crash on day two, but feels Ducati is in a position to simply refine its 2023 challenger moving to the final pre-season test in Portugal next month.

The Pramac rider’s lap stood as the benchmark until the final 90 minutes when Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales – who had stopped with a technical issue earlier in the day – moved to the top of the order with a 1m58.136s.

He would improve on this on his follow-up lap, finding a further tenth, though it would not be enough to keep him at the top of the timesheets.

With an hour and 10 minutes remaining, Marini made his definitive move to the top of the order with a 1m57.889s that would safely see him to the chequered flag as the fastest rider of the 2023 Sepang test on his 2022-spec Ducati.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Photo by: MotoGP

World champion Bagnaia shadowed him by 0.080s on his factory Ducati, with Vinales completing the top three from the sister works team Ducati of Enea Bastianini and Pramac’s Martin.

Aleix Espargaro only put in 32 laps on his improved RS-GP package and was sixth fastest from Gresini Ducati’s Fabio Di Giannantonio and Bezzecchi.

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The Marquez brothers completed the top 10, with Gresini Ducati-mounted Alex Marquez 0.281s quicker than the factory Honda of Marc Marquez – who focused on two of the three 2023 prototype RC213Vs he had at Sepang on the final day.

Raul Fernandez was 11th on his RNF Aprilia ahead of Honda’s Joan Mir and Tech3 GasGas rider Pol Espargaro, with Brad Binder shadowing him on his factory team KTM.

Hour one pacesetter Zarco was 15th ahead of KTM’s Jack Miller, who had a crash on the final day, while the factory Yamahas of Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli were a low-key 19th and 20th.

Pre-season testing continues in Portugal on 11-12 March.

MotoGP Sepang test day 3 - results

Cla Rider Bike Laps Time Gap
1 Italy Luca Marini Ducati 54 1'57.889  
2 Italy Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 43 1'57.969 0.080
3 Spain Maverick Viñales Aprilia 56 1'58.036 0.147
4 Italy Enea Bastianini Ducati 42 1'58.149 0.260
5 Spain Jorge Martin Ducati 46 1'58.204 0.315
6 Spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 32 1'58.307 0.418
7 Italy Fabio Di Giannantonio Ducati 50 1'58.344 0.455
8 Italy Marco Bezzecchi Ducati 61 1'58.363 0.474
9 Spain Alex Marquez Ducati 49 1'58.385 0.496
10 Spain Marc Marquez Honda 55 1'58.666 0.777
11 Spain Raúl Fernández Aprilia 47 1'58.710 0.821
12 Spain Joan Mir Honda 45 1'58.784 0.895
13 Spain Pol Espargaro GASGAS 37 1'58.797 0.908
14 South Africa Brad Binder KTM 52 1'58.812 0.923
15 France Johann Zarco Ducati 50 1'58.852 0.963
16 Australia Jack Miller KTM 54 1'58.901 1.012
17 Portugal Miguel Oliveira Aprilia 52 1'58.922 1.033
18 Spain Alex Rins Honda 55 1'58.932 1.043
19 France Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 63 1'58.943 1.054
20 Italy Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 44 1'58.986 1.097
21 Japan Takaaki Nakagami Honda 44 1'59.535 1.646
22 Spain Augusto Fernandez GASGAS 46 1'59.660 1.771
23 United Kingdom Cal Crutchlow Yamaha 40 1'59.923 2.034
24 Germany Stefan Bradl Honda 43 2'00.435 2.546
25 Japan Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha 0    

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