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‘Happy’ Bagnaia leaves rivals trailing in MotoGP testing

Ducati Lenovo rider Francesco Bagnaia. Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP

Reigning MotoGP Champion Francesco Bagnaia dominated the two-day pre-season testing which ended Sunday at Portimao in Portugal.

The Italian set the fastest time on his Ducati ahead of French riders Johann Zarco, on a Ducati-Pramac, and Fabio Quartararo on a Yamaha.

Bagnaia was the only rider in the test to better the 1:38 mark on Sunday, breaking the lap record he set in 2021. 

“I am very happy. I’ve been well in these five days of test,” said Bagnaia. 

He was 0.296sec faster than Zarco’s best time and 0.334sec better than Quartararo.

Quartararo, the 2021 world champion and last year’s runner-up, had struggled to keep up during the three-day test at Sepang in Malaysia in mid-February and had a disappointing Saturday in Portimao when he was only eighth fastest. 

“A big improvement,” he said. “I am pretty happy. 

“Still missing a few things but we’ve made a massive step from yesterday and from Sepang.” 

Italian Luca Marini (Ducati-VR46), who was the fastest rider at Sepang, was fourth best over the two days, after being fastest on Saturday. 

The Portimao circuit in southern Portugal will host the first Grand Prix of the 2023 season on March 26. 

“We’re ready for the first race,” said Bagnaia. “We have to keep going like this.

Six-time world champion Marc Marquez (Honda), whose last three seasons have been repeatedly interrupted by injuries and operations, could only manage 14th fastest, 0.810sec off Bagnaia.

“I want to be optimistic but you cannot be super optimistic, said the Spaniard. “We’re still far (behind).”


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