The first day of the 2020 Winter Test session ended with Petronas SRT Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo being the fastest, giving a boost to the home team in its quest to do better in the championship bid for the new season.

The Frenchman was the first man into the 1:58s and his laptime remained largely unthreatened thereafter, although some rain in the afternoon did stop play for a while and limit track time. Teammate Franco Morbidelli was second overall on Day 1 and came the closest to deposing him, only 0.051 off, with Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins next up as the Spaniard completed the top three on Friday.

Quartararo did 41 laps on Day 1, working on the 2019 Yamaha, with a best of 1:58.945 on Lap 22. Teammate Franco Morbidelli was the only man able to get close, although on 2020 machinery, and he did 50 laps – ending the day just 0.051 off Quartararo’s best as the Petronas Yamaha duo proved the only two men able to dip under the 1:59 barrier.

At Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, there was no Jorge Lorenzo out testing on Day 1, with the focus instead on Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi. They both had three bikes each in the garage including a 2019 version in order to test back to back. Viñales’ best was a 1:59.367 in sixth and Rossi’s a 1:59.569 in tenth.

Rins, meanwhile, put Team Suzuki Ecstar in third after a half century of laps for the Spaniard on Friday. There was aero on the agenda, and plenty under the covers for the Hamamatsu factory to work on – including another step forward for the engine and a new swingarm, chassis, electronics… Rins’ best was a 1:59.195 in P3 and teammate Joan Mir took P9 with a 1:59.968 after a similar amount of laps. Test rider Sylvain Guintoli was also out on track to add another 48 laps to the count.

Cal Crutchlow of LCR Honda Castrol was the fastest Honda on Day 1. The Brit leapfrogged up into the top three briefly before ultimately ending Friday in fourth after 33 laps, but it was a busy day for the number 35 as he spearheads much of Honda’s testing – with Marc Marquez coming back from shoulder surgery, Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) likewise, and Alex Marquez making his premier class debut. Crutchlow had three bikes in the garage, one of which was a 2019 machine for back-to-back comparisons.

Marc Marquez’s best, a 1:59.676 after 37 laps, put him in 12th – with the focus on trying only the essentials as his recovery limits his laps somewhat. Reigning Moto2 Champion Alex Marquez did a similar number of laps though, and he faced a 0.242 deficit to his teammate by the end of play despite finishing Friday just behind him. Nakagami had a steadier start to the test; his best a 2:00.815.

The surprise was Jack Miller of Team Pramac Racing as the Australian was the fastest Ducati rider on Day 1. An improvement on his penultimate lap put Miller up into fifth with a 1:59.236, behind Crutchlow by just 0.002. He had two new bikes as well as a few “small parts” to try, with positive feedback coming from the Queenslander.

Andrea Dovizioso put in a 1:59.666 and was just outside the top ten, doing 35 laps, with teammate Danilo Petrucci putting in a fastest lap of 1:59.939 after 42 laps. Francesco Bagnaia was P17, Johann Zarco P19 and Tito Rabat P23.

Aprilia were ahead of the game early doors, with Aleix Espargaro of Aprilia Racing Team Gresini top of the pile after the first hour and ten or so laps. After positive comments on the new 2020 bike following the shakedown test, that seemed to continue on the timesheets on Friday: Espargaro ended the session on a 1:59.427 in P7 after 40 laps, the laptime the same one with which he topped the timesheets earlier in the day.

Lorenzo Savadori was also on duty for the Noale factory after the Italian likewise took part in he shakedown test, and he did 30 laps. Test rider Bradley Smith is expected to join the lineup as the test continues.

Pol Espargaro of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing led the way for KTM on the first day. The Spaniard ended the test in P8 after a best of 1:59.536, and he put in 50 laps. The Austrian factory worked with their new chassis – on both factory and Tech 3 machines – as well as some aero. And the engine, and there is more to do on the rear with a new swingarm… as always, it’s a packed program.

Test rider Dani Pedrosa was the next KTM on the timesheets in 15th, with the Spaniard doing nearly 50 laps. Miguel Oliveira was close though, just over a tenth off Pedrosa and doing a similar number of laps as he comes back from injury that dogged the latter half of his 2019. Iker Lecuona just pipped fellow rookie Brad Binder… but the two were just 0.008 apart in P20 and P21 respectively.

Posted by Philip Chong

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