MotoGP roars back into action for the first time in 2020 with the Sepang shakedown test on February 2-4.

The traditional prologue to the Sepang pre-season test (February 7-9) has previously been held for MotoGP test riders only plus a few special guests – most notably Michael Dunlop who tested Suzuki’s GSX-RR in 2018.

While no one-off appearances are anticipated at this year’s Sepang shakedown, there’s still plenty of interest around who will be on track starting with the yesterday’s headline-grabbing announcement from Yamaha.

Jorge Lorenzo will make his Yamaha return having been named its MotoGP test rider for 2020. The three-time MotoGP world title-winner is Yamaha’s most recent world champion back in 2015 and is set to become a major key in the Iwata team’s development plans for the YZR-M1.

At the 2019 final round in Valencia Yamaha chief Lin Jarvis confirmed its test team overhaul would see the retention of its Japanese riders Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Kohta Nozane who will work within its central test group rather splitting into separate Japanese and European test squads.

Stefan Bradl got a head start with Honda’s 2020 programme as he completed laps at Jerez during the rain-hit two-day World Superbike test last week and heads to Sepang to continue his work on the 2020-specification RC213V.

As part of the 2020 rule changes, all MotoGP rookies will be permitted to take part in the Sepang shakedown test for the first time meaning Bradl will be joined by Alex Marquez as he adapts to the Honda having replaced Lorenzo at the Repsol Honda squad.

Marquez and HRC have a slight logistical headache as the final day of Sepang shakedown clashes with the Repsol Honda team launch in Jakarta on February 4 meaning the 23-year-old is unlikely to be in action for the full three days.

The new MotoGP shakedown test rookie rule means new KTM duo Iker Lecuona and Brad Binder will also be allowed to ride at the three-day test before the official pre-season test. Theoretically, KTM will be the busiest of all MotoGP manufacturers with test riders Dani Pedrosa and Mika Kallio in action plus race riders Pol Espargaro and Miguel Oliveira who can take to the track under MotoGP concession rules.

The same concession rules apply at Aprilia who have been the centre of attention during the winter break with Andrea Iannone’s ongoing anti-doping case.

Aprilia will have Lorenzo Savadori to fill in as test rider in Sepang working alongside Bradley Smith and Aleix Espargaro as Iannone is expected to remain out of action with his case hearing on February 4.

Without MotoGP rookies or concession rules to take advantage of, Ducati and Suzuki will have the smallest operating team for the shakedown with Michele Pirro and Sylvain Guintoli on hand for their respective manufacturers.

While the shakedown runs for a full three days at Sepang – weather permitting – there is no minimum or maximum requirement in terms of laps completed meaning the riders listed will not need to be in action for all three days.

2020 Sepang shakedown riders:

Honda: Stefan Bradl, Alex Marquez*

Ducati: Michele Pirro

Yamaha: Jorge Lorenzo, Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Kohta Nozane

Suzuki: Sylvain Guintoli

KTM: Dani Pedrosa, Mika Kallio, Iker Lecuona*, Brad Binder*, Pol Espargaro**, Miguel Oliveira**

Aprilia: Lorenzo Savadori, Bradley Smith, Aleix Espargaro**

*MotoGP rookie

**MotoGP concession rule

 

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