Fernández’s best time – GP Inside

Raul Fernandez set the fastest time on the first day of the Sepang shakedown, ahead of Michele Pirro’s Ducati.

Finally MotoGP returns to Sepang. The track had not been visited by the queen category since February 2020, just before the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic. The 2020 and 2021 Malaysian Grands Prix have since been cancelled, along with pre-season testing that should have taken place a year ago. Two years after the last laps, the prototypes are rolling again in the temple of speed in Malaysia.

The entire peloton will be on track on February 5 and 6, but the action starts with a three days trepidation reserved for test riders, beginners and manufacturers who have concessions: Aprilia, therefore Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro. The first city will enter the court on Tuesday, the second on Wednesday.

Awaiting his arrival, Raúl Fernández (KTM) was the best dressed on the first day, this Monday. The debutant is the only one to drop under 2’01, with a benchmark set at 2’00.898. By way of comparison, the first day of the 2020 shakedown was dominated by Dani Pedrosa in 2’00.625. The best rookie at the time, Alex Márquez, set the fastest time of 2’01.317.

Beware of over-interpreting the times, because the clock is not the goal of the participants. It is mainly about looking for configurations, testing parts, validating some, rejecting others, accumulating kilometers and information used for the development of prototypes (…) and, for beginners, taming their new category.

Ranking information is also relative, as drivers drive different machines and identities are not immediately known. For example, Dani Pedrosa does not appear on the time sheet, even though he was doing well on track. His times are supposed to be included in those of Mika Kallio’s KTM, but in this case as in others, we will have to wait for confirmation from the brand.

Even so, the performance of Raúl Fernández is interesting, especially because it was constant in its time. Ducati test rider Michele Pirro pushed at the end of the day to catch up with the Spaniard, finishing 144 thousandths (2’01.042). The Finnish Mika Kallio (KTM) and the Italian Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia) follow. Decreased by recent injury on the right wrist, Remy Gardner (KTM) completes the top-5 and appears as the last rider under 2’02. The outgoing Moto2 world champion is followed by two other rookies, Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) and Darryn Binder (Yamaha).

The only Frenchman on track, Sylvain Guintoli, was the most productive of the day, with 66 laps completed on the new Suzuki GSX-RR. His partner Takuya Tsuda has no recorded time. At Yamaha, three testers are present at Sepang: Cal Crutchlow, Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Kohta Nozane.

And Honda in all this? The Japanese firm did not ride, because the bike it used during the private test at Jerez, on January 26 and 27, did not arrive in time. She remained stranded in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and will not be in Malaysia until Wednesday evening. Luckily for Stefan Bradl, HRC employees have been working to prepare another prototype for him, which will allow him to race on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Shakedown Sepang – Day 1:
1. Raúl Fernandez (KTM) – 2’00.898 | 46 rpm
2. Michele Pirro – Moto 1 (Ducati) – 2’01.042 | 46 rpm
3. Mika Kallio – Moto 1 (KTM) – 2’01.250 | 32 rounds
4. Lorenzo Savadori – Moto 2 (Aprilia) – 2’01.676 | 24 rounds
5. Remy Gardner (KTM) – 2’01.852 | 42 rounds
6. Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) – 2’02.012 | 38 rpm
7. Darryn Binder (Yamaha) – 2’02.146 | 51 rounds
8. Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki) – 2’02.181 | 66 rounds
9. Mika Kallio – Moto 2 (KTM) – 2’02.297 | 19 laps
10. Fabio di Giannantonio (Ducati) – 2’02.596 | 38 rpm
11. Lorenzo Savadori – Moto 4 (Aprilia) – 2’02.890 | 15 rounds
12. Lorenzo Savadori – Moto 1 (Aprilia) – 2’03.193 | 10 rounds
13. Michele Pirro – Moto 2 (Ducati) – 2’03.426 | 12 rounds
14. Yamaha rider – Moto 2 (Yamaha) – 2’03.442 | 21 rounds
15. Yamaha Rider – Moto 1 (Yamaha) – 2’03.616 | 16 rounds
16. Lorenzo Savadori – Moto 3 (Aprilia) – 2’04.633 | 4 rounds

Shakedown Sepang: The first photos!

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