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MotoGP, Sepang test: Di Giannantonio ahead of the official Ducatis on pace

  ANALYSIS - In the Sprint race simulation, Fabio made the difference, Bastianini was the best on the GP24s. Marquez is getting the hang of it. Aprilia and KTM are not yet at the level of the Desmosedici, Honda is struggling

MotoGP: Sepang test: Di Giannantonio ahead of the official Ducatis on pace

There is not one rider or expert who doesn't point out that test times are worth little or nothing, but it's difficult to remain indifferent to what we saw in Sepang. As many as 4 riders lapped under 1'57", a wall that seemed insurmountable, and Bagnaia lowered by around 8 tenths the track record that he had set a few months earlier in qualifying for the Malaysian GP. As if that wasn't enough, 10 riders managed to go faster than that record. The conditions were perfect, the asphalt was black even though it was rubberized, and all this allowed us to see those times, but one lap does not evaluate the true competitiveness of a rider.

For that it is better to look at the race simulations - or rather, the sprint race simulations - that many did on the last day. Ten laps in which to understand the pace and you can find the times of the top 10 riders in the standings summarized in the table below. All the bikes are represented apart from Yamaha because Quartararo didn’t commit to a long run like his rivals.

Even in this case, however, the times do not tell the whole truth. For example, Bagnaia's simulation was slow compared to that of the best, with just one passage in the low 1'58". However, it was Pecco who explained the reason: "I had a small problem with the bike during the Sprint simulation, I should have stopped, but I would have lost concentration and so I decided to continue". This is therefore the cause of a pace not at the level of the flying lap.

Martin also had some problems; in fact, he made a mistake: "when on the second lap I lapped in 1'57" I ruined the tyre and paid for it,” said Jorge. His simulation is still very interesting, but not the best. Staying with the riders on the GP24, the fastest on the pace was Bastianini. Enea was able to stay in a low 1'58" for the first 6 laps, only increasing by 3 or 4 tenths in the final ones.

So, do we have a winner? No, because an old bike... makes good broth, so to speak and it's a GP23 that brought everyone into line. It is fluorescent yellow, and it was ridden by Fabio Di Giannantonio. The Roman rider was perfect on pace: like Martin he was the only one to go below 1'57" in the simulation and, unlike the Spaniard from Pramac, he never went above 1'58" and a half, if not by a few thousandths in the first lap. Taking into consideration the times in the various laps, Jorge and Enea were the fastest twice, Diggia 6. What is most impressive, however, are his benchmarks in the final laps, as if he had not (or almost) suffered any tyre drop.

Among the Marquezs, Marc does better than Alex

The 2023 Desmosedici is certainly a bike at the peak of its development unlike the GP24, but Fabio put his all into it. This is demonstrated by the comparison with Alex Marquez, author of a rather anonymous simulation, with too many ups and downs. More interesting is that of brother Marc. The 8-time world champion still must adapt to the Ducati, but he is on the right path. His pace isn't yet at the level of the best, but it's not too far off either. Compared to Bastianini - for example - he loses especially in the first half, and then falls in line with Enea's times, except for the 9th lap, in which he probably made a mistake. Solidity, however, is not lacking and on his 4th day on the Rossa it is already good news.

Aprilia and KTM can't keep up with the Ducati pace

So far, we have only talked about the Borgo Panigale bikes, which, looking at the simulations, remain the benchmark. Aleix Espargarò on the Aprilia was very consistent (there was just 3 tenths of a difference between his best lap and his worst), but he lacked speed. We're talking about a gap of 2 or 3 tenths per lap (on average) which makes the difference in the long run.

Even KTM is unable to compete with the Rossa over the distance. Binder started slowly and then recovered, but Di Giannantonio (or Bastianini) were far away. However, we need to understand what type of tests Brad was doing at that moment, because over the distance Acosta was at his level, if not better. The Spanish rookie did some great things on the flying lap and his pace is also interesting. He's not on the podium, but he's not that far from the best either.

We conclude with Honda and Joan Mir. The RC213V is making progress, but there is still a long way to go. If all the opponents were in the 1'58" for the entire simulation, the Majorcan rose to 1'59" already on the 6th lap, on the 8th he dropped again (but by a handful of hundredths) and then he must have made a mistake in the 9th (2'02”217). The litmus test of a Honda that is making big changes but still needs to time to close the gap.


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