Motorcycle Racing

What we learned from MotoGP’s Sepang 2024 test

The 2024-spec Ducati proved to be especially quick in Bagnaia's hands

As MotoGP heads off from its annual winter Sepang residency, this year’s pre-season shakedown and test had plenty of focus points going into it and even more coming out.

Ducati demonstrated its new weapon will remain the standard as a number of its riders went under the lap record with ease. To see a Ducati rider top each day of the test plus end the final day with the top four locked out wasn’t so surprising, but to see all four in the 1m56s bracket and back it up with impressive long-run pace sends out a clear message to the rest.

Marc Marquez made a quiet but gradual adaptation to life on a Desmosedici, perhaps understandably after an entire premier class career to date spent on a Honda, which meant unlearning old habits and understanding what makes the Ducati purr.

Honda’s life without Marquez showed promise, but the scale of its task to climb back to the top of MotoGP remains sizable, while the same can be said for Yamaha – but it faces a race against time to deliver what its star rider Fabio Quartararo demands.

Elsewhere, the Pedro Acosta hype train is fully booked and ready to leave the station as he produced lap times not seen from a MotoGP rookie since a certain Marquez over a decade ago. Meanwhile, Aprilia endured mixed fortunes, with Aleix Espargaro settling into life with the 2024 RS-GP far more comfortably than his stablemates.

All this plus much more is what we learned from the MotoGP pre-season test at Sepang.

1. Ducati has achieved something that seemed unachievable

The 2024-spec Ducati proved to be especially quick in Bagnaia’s hands

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

What seemed impossible a month ago, that Ducati would take another significant step forward with the bike planned for this season, can start to be considered a reality after what happened in Malaysia.

If the 2023 Desmosedici was capable of dominating, especially in the hands of Francesco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin, the 2024 bike looks to be even more balanced. Bagnaia is used to going from less to more and this time he has undertaken the process much faster than usual.

He finished in style, smashing the Sepang lap record (which was also his), by more than eight tenths of a second. Martin followed close behind, just two tenths off the pace, while Enea Bastianini completed the GP24 hat-trick. If Bagnaia’s long runs are impressive, Bastianini’s are on par, which leads one to believe that the Borgo Panigale brand has managed…

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