Qatar MotoGP Test long runs: "Amazing pace" by Aleix but “Pecco the man to beat”

Aleix Espargaro: “I did a couple of laps in the ‘51s which is crazy with the medium tyre.”

Aleix Espargaro, Qatar MotoGP test, 19 February
Aleix Espargaro, Qatar MotoGP test, 19 February

Aleix Espargaro signed off pre-season testing by delivering an “amazing pace” during a long run during Tuesday’s final night in Qatar.

Unfortunately, it came to a premature end when the Spaniard crashed from his factory Aprilia on lap 8.

But up to that point he was several tenths a lap faster than reigning world champion and test leader Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) over the same distance.

“In terms of race pace with the medium tyre, it’s been amazing, we fly today.  So I’m very happy,” said Espargaro.

“If you check my race simulation before I crashed on lap 8, it was an amazing pace. I did a couple of laps in the ‘51s which is crazy with the medium tyre. 

“But that means when you put the soft you expect to be on top, at least a couple of tenths faster. But I couldn’t. 

"I need more power. The bike is amazing everywhere - we just need to increase the power performance.”

Aleix Espargaro's long run:

Lap 1: 1'52.293
Lap 2: 1'52.158
Lap 3: 1'51.964
Lap 4: 1'51.931
Lap 5: 1'52.344
Lap 6: 1'52.014
Lap 7: 1'52.039

The double 2024 race winner, who finished the test in third behind the Ducatis of Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini courtesy of his time attack, warned:

“The RS-GP 24 improved a lot, but even this is not enough to beat the Ducatis.

“KTMs we know also improved a little bit. Especially on race day Brad is going to be there.

“Look like the Japanese brands improved a little bit but not enough because the Italian brands are improving a lot more.

“So the man to beat is Pecco for sure. I think it’s the strongest preseason for him since he’s been in MotoGP.”

Espargaro's team-mate Maverick Vinales was sixth fastest but set a pace close to KTM’s Brad Binder over a 17-lap race simulation. The full race distance is 22 laps.

“I'm still not completely happy with the engine brake, especially in the long runs, but it's something that is solved with the setup and we can work on it during the race weekend,” Vinales said.

Average lap time during longer runs, Qatar Test - Day 2

  • Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 1m 52.106s (7 laps)
  • Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 1m 52.430s (7 laps)
  • Fabio di Giannantonio (Ducati) 1m 52.533s (11 laps)
  • Enea Bastianini (Ducati) 1m 52.541s (10 laps)
  • Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) 1m 52.951s (9 laps)
  • Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) 1m 53.042s (10 laps)
  • Brad Binder (KTM) 1m 53.224s (22 laps)
  • Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) 1m 53.322s (17 laps)
  • Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) 1m 53.544s (14 laps)
  • Jack Miller (KTM) 1m 53.614s (8 laps)
  • Alex Marquez (Ducati) 1m 53.693s (18 laps)
  • Pedro Acosta (KTM) 1m 53.710s (18 laps*)
  • Luca Marini (Honda) 1m 53.840s (14 laps)
  • Johann Zarco (Honda) 1m 53.876s (10 laps)
  • Miguel Oliveira (Aprilia) 1m 54.005s (10 laps)
  • Augusto Fernandez (KTM) 1m 54.076 (13 laps*)

*Slow laps removed

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