MotoGP™ is back for 2018, with riders and teams returning to action at the Sepang Test this week.
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) decimated the competition on the third and final day of the pre-season test, setting the fastest ever lap around the Malaysian venue with a 1:58.830.
His closest challenger was Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa – the fastest man on Day 1 of the test – who was just over a tenth and a half behind his fellow Spaniard.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) took P3, only half a tenth behind the RC213V of Pedrosa ahead of him.
While rain affected Sunday and Monday’s action, conditions cleared on Tuesday, allowing Lorenzo to put in 48 laps overall.
The 1:58.830 lap will not count as the official record due it being set outside a race weekend, but it is the quickest recorded lap on two wheels.
The previous best belonged to Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and was set during testing in 2015.
Behind Crutchlow in third – the Brit another who did a lot of laps, completing 65 – was the second Ducati Team rider of Andrea Dovizioso.
The Italian ended the day just over a tenth off the top three and completed 51 laps.
Just behind Dovizioso was another impressive performance for another Borgo Panigale machine; that of Alma Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller.
Switching from Honda, the Australian proved his adaptation once again with a 1:59.346 as his best after 36 laps – completing the top five despite being the first crasher of the day.
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was the rider who broke the Ducati and Honda stranglehold on the timesheets first, going sixth quickest but only 0.002 off Miller and the top five.
The top Yamaha was nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi, who slotted into eighth and was one of the late improvers.
A 1:59.449 on lap 52 of 54 saw Rossi just pip Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Johann Zarco in the last few minutes of track action.
Rossi’s teammate Maverick Vinales – fastest on Monday – was P18 on the third and final day, but within the top six overall with his previous best.
Both Yamaha riders had their new aero-packages on track, and Independent Team rider Zarco also tried the fairing on Tuesday.
Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) made it both Pramac machines in the top 10 on Day 3 as he ended 0.017 seconds off Zarco.
Petrucci was also the fourth Independent Team rider within that quickest 10, and just pipped fellow Independent Ducati rider Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) to the honour.
Of the four rookies, Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was quickest once again on Day 3.
The Japanese rider was fourteenth quickest overall with a 2:00.71, tantalisingly close to the 1:59 bracket.
Reigning Moto2™ champion Franco Morbidelli was around half a second off that and second fastest of the new riders in the field – but the Italian was 0.021 ahead of Vinales for an impressive scalp.
Xavier Simeon (Reale Avintia Racing) was a further three tenths back, with Tom Luthi (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) the final rookie on the timesheets.
That’s a wrap on the first action of the year, but MotoGP™ will be back before you know it – getting a first taste of Buriram in Thailand ahead of the 2018 debut of the Thailand GP. The test there begins on 16 February.