Aleix Espargaro tops opening day of Qatar MotoGP test 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 opening day of Qatar MotoGP test for Aprilia

Pre-season testing should have started back in February, but the escalating COVID-19 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 the 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 two, Oliveira had returned to the top spot with a 1m56.980s, with HRC test rider and Marc Marquez substitute Stefan Bradl topping the times after hour three.

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

The German has been hard at work testing the 2021 RC213V in private tests already this winter, and was in action in Qatar in the shakedown on Friday.

Aprilia’s Espargaro would round out hour four 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 Formula 1 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 makes 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

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 team-mate in 11th as he got to grips with the 2021 RC213V, with Brad Binder (KTM) and the factory team Ducati of Francesco Bagnaia following.

Valentino Rossi was 14th at the end of his first day 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 second-highest number of laps with 68, with Jorge Martin in 18th the fastest of the rookie crop on his Pramac Ducati.

shares
comments

Related video

Pramac to carry F1 logo on 2021 MotoGP bikes
Previous article

Pramac to carry F1 logo on 2021 MotoGP bikes

Next article

2021 Aprilia “quite different” to ride – Espargaro

2021 Aprilia “quite different” to ride – Espargaro
Why Honda and Yamaha have been left behind in MotoGP's new era Plus

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

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. Key paddock figures explain why.

MotoGP
Jun 28, 2022
Who is Valentino Rossi’s newest MotoGP star? Plus

Who is Valentino Rossi’s newest MotoGP star?

Valentino Rossi’s protégés stole the show at Assen as Francesco Bagnaia stormed to victory to arrest a recent barren run. But it was the rider in second, on Bagnaia’s old bike, who had all eyes on him. Securing his and the VR46 team’s first MotoGP podium, Marco Bezzecchi has all the characteristics that made his mentor special

MotoGP
Jun 27, 2022
How Quartararo is evoking an absent MotoGP great in 2022 Plus

How Quartararo is evoking an absent MotoGP great in 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
The human importance of Marquez’s latest enforced MotoGP absence Plus

The human importance of Marquez’s latest enforced MotoGP absence

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 Plus

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 Autosport, it remains in the strongest position in a wild rider market

MotoGP
May 16, 2022
The seismic aftershock left by Suzuki's decision to leave MotoGP Plus

The seismic aftershock left by 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. Autosport analyses 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 Plus

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 Honda's praise for its 2022 MotoGP bike has turned into doubt Plus

How Honda's praise for its 2022 MotoGP bike has turned into 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