Espargaro fastest from Quartararo as rain stops play on Shakedown day 2

Pol Espargaro leads Fabio Quartararo on day two of the Sepang Shakedown.

Pol Espargaro, Sepang MotoGP test, 1 February
Pol Espargaro, Sepang MotoGP test, 1 February

KTM remained on top of the 2024 Sepang MotoGP Shakedown test timesheets despite the arrival of Honda and Yamaha race riders on day two.

After Dani Pedrosa had set the pace with a 1m 59.233s on Thursday, it was the turn of new KTM testing team-mate Pol Espargaro to take the limelight.

Last year’s GASGAS racer was quickest for most of the day courtesy of an early 1m 58.241s, comfortably under the official race lap record but still 0.7s from the pole record by Francesco Bagnaia.

Closest to Espargaro was Fabio Quartararo, the former world champion heading a list of six race riders joining the action on day two, courtesy of the new concession rules for Yamaha and Honda.

Meanwhile, GASGAS Tech3 rookie Pedro Acosta turned heads in third, the Spanish teenager cutting almost one-second from his day one best to finish just 0.290s from Espargaro and effectively equal with Quartararo.

An intense storm forced red flags to be waved at 4:30pm. Once the storm had passed, the track re-opened at 5:30pm, but only Savadori elected to make a brief appearance on wet tyres.

Quartararo’s new factory team-mate Alex Rins moved to fourth place (+0.409s) just before the storm arrived, demoting Pedrosa to fifth (+0.431s).

Joan Mir was the top Honda rider in sixth place (0.846s), a fraction ahead of new LCR rider Johann Zarco.

Mir’s Repsol team-mate Luca Marini was the final rider within one-second of Espargaro.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR), HRC test rider Stefan Bradl, Yamaha test rider Cal Crutchlow, Ducati test rider Michele Pirro and Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori completed the 13-rider line-up.

Dani Pedrosa, Sepang MotoGP test, 2 February
Dani Pedrosa, Sepang MotoGP test, 2 February

Factories gathered more data on their latest aero, including the debut of an innovative front fender mid-wing at KTM, but many suspect some manufacturers still have more up their sleeve.

It is also not yet clear how many different types of engine specification each factory has available this week, let alone chassis and electronics upgrades.

The third and final day of the Shakedown takes place tomorrow, followed by a two-day break and then the start of the Official test, featuring all the 2024 grid (assuming Franco Morbidelli is passed fit to ride).

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