Motorcycle Racing

Bagnaia leads Ducati 1-2 as pre-season resumes

Raul Fernandez, RNF MotoGP Racing

The countdown to the 2023 season is on as just two more days of running are permitted between now and the start of the new campaign on 26 March in Portugal.

The paddock has decamped to the Algarve International Circuit to wrap up the pre-season, with Saturday’s session running for eight hours.

VR46 Ducati rider Marini was first out on track when the session began at 9:30am local time, but it was Bagnaia who rounded out the first hour fastest of all with a 1m40.551s.

As factory Ducati team-mate Enea Bastianini was forced to park up in hour two with a technical issue, Bagnaia strengthened his position at the top of the timesheets with a 1m40.019s, improving to a 1m39.610s come the end of hour three.

Marini took to the top of the standings at the end of hour four with a 1m39.400s, with the Italian improving to a 1m39.005s as the session ticked into its final hour.

But a 1m38.771s from Bagnaia with just under half an hour remaining was enough for the world champion to end the penultimate day of the pre-season fastest of all.

With a month splitting this test and February’s Sepang action, the pitlane was awash with manufacturers rolling out new developments.

Aprilia courted attention for its radical new aerodynamic concept, with Maverick Vinales third fastest on Saturday with a 1m39.025s.

Alex Marquez continued his adaptation to the Ducati in fourth, as he guided his Gresini-run GP22 to a 1m39.336s ahead of the RNF Aprilia duo of Raul Fernandez and Miguel Oliveira.

Raul Fernandez, RNF MotoGP Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Marco Bezzecchi was seventh on the sister VR46 Ducati, with Fabio Quartararo the leading Yamaha rider in eighth – 0.843s off the pace.

Gresini’s Fabio Di Giannantonio shadowed Quartararo in ninth, but a late crash has sent the Italian to the local hospital for further checks.

Jorge Martin rounded out the top 10 on his Pramac Ducati ahead of LCR Honda’s Alex Rins, who was the leading HRC rider on Saturday.

Aleix Espargaro was 12th on the second Aprilia ahead of Pramac’s Johann Zarco and Joan Mir on the factory team Honda, with the works KTM duo of Brad Binder and Jack Miller trailing.

Marc Marquez suffered a crash on a busy day for the eight-time world champion, as he put 78 laps on his Honda in 19th.

The final day of testing begins on Sunday at 9:30am local time.

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