MotoGP: Pol Espargaro Tops The Final Test Day in Mandalika
On the last day of testing Repsol Honda’s Pol Espargaro heads the field with the top 21 separated by one second
Despite a few set backs for everyone during the tests with the weather, dusty track conditions, high humidity and a new circuit to learn, the three day test in Indonesia showed some promise for what looks to be another enthralling season.
Pol Espargaro who struggled badly with rear grip issues in hot conditions last year on the Repsol Honda has gained some confidence with the new RC-213V and was able to top the last day and combined standings of the test with a 1:31.060.
2021 World Champion Fabio Quartararo despite not being completely happy with the M1 was able to put in the second fastest time as well as a good race run on soft tyres, however the Frenchman struggled to find time with the harder rear compounds so there could be a worry over the speed of the Yamaha this season.
The fastest Ducati in the test was Mooney VR46 Racing Team’s Luca Marini who was the fastest on Day Two and end the combined standings in third. The Italian worked on race pace on the third day but said he was struggling with his endurance, but that may be down to the conditions and time spent on the bike in the past fortnight.
Aleix Espargaro after an impressive Sepang test carried his momentum into Mandalika finishing in fourth overall, just beating his team-mate Maverick Vinales by under a tenth, with Vinales finishing in eighth. The Aprilia looks to have made another step in 2022, using their concessions to their advantage.
Franco Morbidelli who has been getting back to bike fitness after not being on a bike since Valencia before 2022 testing began, wasn’t high in the time sheets for the majority of the tests, but the 2020 Vice Champion was able to do a time attack on Day Three to round out the top five.
The 2021 Vice Champion and most peoples favourite for the 2022 title, Francesco Bagnaia has had a quiet test, consistently inside the top ten, but not with time topping pace. The Italian has stated he’s been working with Ducati on a program and not cared about his position. His team-mate Jack Miller has been down the order just in the top 20. Despite that the Australian’s race pace was very strong and only a few tenths from the top.
Team Suzuki Ecstar have been mostly inside the top ten, with Alex Rins being the faster of the two Spaniards’, ending the final test in seventh place whilst Joan Mir was in 12th. Unfortunately for the 2020 World Champion, he suffered food poisoning and was unable to compete on the third day of testing, but he’s back to full fitness and will be ready for Qatar.
Eight Time World Champion Marc Marquez hasn’t had the easiest of off-seasons with his reoccurring eye injury which meant he couldn’t ride for three months after winning in Emilia Romagna. Marc has been consistently inside the top ten, trying to understand the limits of the new Honda, he’s had a couple of crashes but he’s getting well equipped and will be looking for his ninth world title.
Pramac Racing have had a quite test with both riders fluctuating up and down the order during the tests, they ended in 10th and 16th with Johann Zarco being in-front of Jorge Martin.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing struggled with rear grip issues at the end of last season and they seem to still be having those woes, but they have been improved. Brad Binder was able to finish in 11th, whilst his team-mate Miguel Oliveira was in 15th with both being just over 0.5 seconds from Pol.
Enea Bastianini topped the Sepang test, breaking the lap record, improving in his qualifying pace as that was his biggest problem last season. In Indonesia he wasn’t as quick, being down in 13th, but Enea will be ready for Qatar.
LCR Honda’sAlex Marquez and Takaaki Nakagami finished the tests in 14th and 17th, swapping places from Sepang. Both riders seem to be slower at getting to grips to the Honda compared to the Repsol Team, but both are known for their great race pace when their feeling with the bike is there.
Andrea Dovizioso who’s riding for the new WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team has had quite a lacklustre test being down the order near 20th. The Italian is still getting equipped with the 2022 M1 as it’s a big step from the 2019 version. The former three-time vice champion and 2004 125 World Champion will be looking to improve in round one.
The last five positions were covered by the rookies with Mooney VR46 Racing Team’s Marco Bezzecchi being the top rookie in both tests ahead of fellow Italian and Ducati rider Fabio Di Giannantonio. Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing Team’s rookies were 22nd and 23rd with Raul Fernandez beating Moto 2 World Champion Remy Gardner. Fernandez suffered a heavy crash on Day Two in Mandalika suffering a concussion, causing him to miss day three and Darryn Binder rounded out the field.
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